Law Firm Proposes Class-Action Suit for Blocked Xbox Live Users

A boutique Texas law firm establishes a forum for Microsoft Xbox 360 owners who feel they were unfairly banned from the company's Xbox Live service, in the interest of filing a class action suit against Microsoft.

Following the decision by Xbox 360 console maker Microsoft to ban users from the Xbox Live service, intellectual property law firm AbingtonIP began conducting an investigation into Microsoft's business practices regarding the ban. "Microsoft has chosen to use one of the most indiscriminate "weapons" in its arsenal in an effort to combat piracy -- as a result, use of this "weapon" has resulted in a great deal of collateral damage -- many people were affected who had nothing to do with piracy," the firm states on its Web site. "Furthermore, Xbox console functions that have nothing to do with piracy were also affected or disabled. Details aside, Microsoft's bans could (and should) have been more measured."AbigntonIP posted a forum to allow Xbox 360 owners who felt their account had been unfairly terminated to voice their objections, first noticed by the gaming blog Inc Gamers.

"As has been reported widely in the media, tens of thousands of Xbox owners have had their modified Xbox consoles banned from Microsoft's online gaming service Xbox Live. Although modification of Xbox consoles is "arguably" against the terms of use for Xbox/Xbox Live, Microsoft "conveniently" timed the Xbox console ban to coincide with the release of the new Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 game and less than two months after the release of the very popular Halo 3: ODST game," the firm charges. "This -convenient' timing may have resulted in more Xbox Live subscription revenues for Microsoft than it would have generated had these Xbox console bans taken place at some time before the release of [these games]. Additionally, sales of both Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Halo 3: ODST would likely have been greatly diminished had the Xbox console ban occurred prior to the release of these games."

Last week Microsoft banned up to 1 million consoles from the community online gaming service Xbox Live after suspecting the devices had been "modded", or altered to allow downloads of pirated software, leading to a flurry of modded consoles for sale on eBay and Craigslist. The report came amid the release of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, one of the most highly anticipated game titles of the year. On November 4, Microsoft's director of programming for the company's gaming network Xbox Live, Larry 'Major Nelson' Hryb, wrote a blog post acknowledging Microsoft has been actively banning modified Xbox 360 consoles that are able to play pirated games.

"Our commitment to combat piracy and support safer and more secure gameplay for the more than 20 million members of our Xbox Live community remains a top priority," he wrote. "All consumers should know that piracy is illegal, and that modifying their Xbox 360 console to play pirated discs, violates the Xbox Live terms of use, will void their warranty and result in a ban from Xbox Live."