September 28, 2007 9:38 AM PDT

Week in review: Microsoft gets its game on

Microsoft scored a huge victory with the release of its Halo 3 video game.

The final installment of Microsoft's wildly popular Xbox 360 first-person shooter trilogy attracted casual and hard-core gamers to midnight release parties across the country and set one-day sales records.

On Fifth Avenue in New York, an enormous spotlight beamed up, and full-out lighting and sound equipment--along with plenty of enormous TV screens--dominated the ground scene. But no one, really, was prepared for the spectacle that the Halo 3 event would turn into with about an hour to go.

Best Buy and Microsoft staffers kept their swag giveaways going, insisting that the rambunctious crowds cheer at the top of their lungs in order to get a free T-shirt or bouncy ball thrown at them.

Then the Mongooses arrived. With only 20 minutes left before midnight, three camo-clad bikers atop all-terrain vehicles decorated to look like the Halo 3 pimped rides showed up and incited the crowds to cheering as the riders performed noisy "wheelies" along the block of Fifth Avenue that had, by that time, been completely blocked off from normal traffic.

In the 24 hours that followed, sales of the game set the all-time record for most revenue earned in a single day by any entertainment property. Microsoft said the game netted $170 million in sales in the United States in its first day. If true, that would top previous records set by the motion pictures Spider Man 3 and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Consumers weren't the only ones going gaga over the game. The game won high praise from reviewers. Plenty of games attempted to duplicate the Halo formula, with varying degrees of success. But there's still nothing quite like the genuine item.

Luckily for all involved, Halo 3 is a positively amazing package that offers extreme satisfaction across all of its different parts, according to GameSpot's review of the game.

The release of Halo 3 could be a watershed moment for Microsoft and the Xbox 360. With a blockbuster title that will surely captivate millions across the globe, the Xbox 360 will be the most played video game console for the month of October and should catapult the system to the top of the video game world.

Halo 3 will undoubtedly be the biggest game of the year. For many casual gamers, the release of Halo 3 means that it's time to buy an Xbox 360. And it's this cadre of individuals for which Microsoft has been waiting.

Trouble calls on patents
After months of battle, Internet phone service Vonage has lost the bulk of its appeal in the Verizon Communications patent infringement case.

In March, a jury in Virginia found that Vonage had infringed on three patents held by Verizon. And it awarded Verizon $58 million in damages, along with future damages of 5.5 percent on the revenue that Vonage was making during the appeal process.

The judge in the case imposed an injunction on Vonage that would force the company to stop delivering a service using technology that infringes on Verizon's patents. But because Vonage has been appealing the case, the injunction has not yet gone into effect.

On Wednesday, Vonage's appeal essentially came to an end. And as the legal dust settles, the small voice over IP company now faces the possibility of paying hefty monetary damages and a total shutdown of its IP telephony service.

Vonage was dealt another serious legal blow when a federal jury found the company had infringed on six patents held by Sprint Nextel. The jury ordered Vonage to pay Sprint $69.5 million in damages.

Sprint sued Vonage in 2005, claiming that the company was infringing on seven Sprint patents that dealt with connecting Internet phone calls. Vonage denied the claims and argued that Sprint's patents shouldn't have been approved in the first place.

Vonage said in a statement that it will appeal the federal court's verdict. Vonage also said it will develop technological work-arounds that don't infringe on Sprint's patents.

See more CNET content tagged:
Vonage Holdings Corp., Halo 3, patent, jury, Sprint Nextel


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Deathly Hallows Movie?
I wasn't aware it had been released yet...
Posted by stoobush (13 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No keyboard and mouse for the 360?
The game plays best with a keyboard and mouse.

If they are on sale then I'll buy Halo 3
Posted by inachu (963 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Keyboard and mouse
I think the Xbox 360 comes with a great controller, why would you want to use a keyboard and mouse - nuts.
Posted by ladyvols (4 comments )
Link Flag
Why didn't Microsoft release Halo 3 as a PC game as well? I mean with DirectX10, maybe just maybe it would help save Vista from doing a crash and burn. Eh, probably not, lol

Posted by ecartman0 (28 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft couldn't have *every* nerd camping out at stores, now could it? At least half of the tech world needed to be at work the day before launch!

Really, though, they'll probably keep it a console title for 4 years (hoping to sell some Xbox 360s), and then port it over to the Hail Mary OS as an upgrade incentive.

BTW, I just got a new replacement Xbox 360 after suffering from Ring of Death, and its already freezing on the console's OS... It's rediculous.
Posted by ps2goat (8 comments )
Link Flag
Halo 3 Platinum, now where's the Platinum Hits price?
If Halo sold over a million copies on the first day, shouldn't it be at the Platinum Hits price of $29.99 by now? ;)
Posted by ps2goat (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Microsoft gets its game on????
I don't think so!

Are you sure Microsoft has its "game on" with this one? Do you think they've finally figured out how to stop the piracy of their digital games, while, all the while, continuing to infringe the hard earned copyrighted property of others.

Don't you think it's time we forced the Microsoft's and Google's of this world to play on a level playing field?

See if this makes any sense to you:

Halo 3 is now free!

What if I could figure out how to deliver Halo 3 to everyone for free and be protected from attacks by Microsoft based on the "safe harbor" or "fair use" provisions of the DMCA (that's the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for those of you new to copyright law in this country)?

What if I could make it run on any game console you had, or sell you a really cheap new one I'm having made in China? We're thinking about calling it the X-Boxx 365.

What if I could then sell advertising on the web pages where Halo 3 was displayed for downloading and keep most of the money for myself?

What if I could cut all legimate middlemen, such as Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Game Spot totally out of the picture?

What if I could keep records of everyone who downloaded or played Halo 3 and then send them e-mails and other solicitations for hardware and software (maybe even travel and food!) owned by companies other than Microsoft?

What if all Halo 3 users could then join my new social networking community and I could sell even more advertising for every minute they surfed or "stuck around" on the Web?

Well, don't fool yourself. There are only a few things stopping this scenario from happening. One is called "the companies with all the money". Another is sometimes called a "monopoly", or certainly at least an "oligopoly". Others are called "truckloads of lawyers", probably even more dangerous than all of the other three combined. Years ago it used to be called "Japan".

Microsoft routinely steals other people's copyright-protected property every single second of every single day. And so does Google. I know. My small graphic arts development company is one of the victims. We have had to lay off more talented people in the last few years than we have hired.

Let me give you a specific example of how this illegal activity occurs routinely at Microsoft:

1. Microsoft chose to copy Google's illegal image search approach rather than make some simple changes to make their's legal. Again, I know. I pointed this out to senior Microsoft executives and lawyers earlier this year and was politely told to pound sand.

2. I showed senior Microsoft officials a specific example. They claimed they were somehow protected by the DCMA and "fair use". NONSENSE!

3. At the time, the N.Y. Yankees were 8 games behind the Redsox. Their playoff chances looked "iffy" at best.

4. I found several web site publishers, one called Freefever and the other called Lunapic, that had been infringing our electronic clip art illustrations for some time, AND who had removed the infringing images after receiving an official notice from my company, Imageline.

5. I showed Microsoft exactly how they could still retrieve the "Yankees clip art illustrations" we had produced and registered with the U.S. Copyright Office many years ago from the Microsoft servers. AFTER they were removed from the smaller infringing web sites. You see, top quality electronic graphic arts content actually increases in value over time. It's not like an old version of WordPerfect or Microsoft Works.

6. Try it now yourself if you want to watch these ongoing infringements in action. Go to Microsoft Live image search and key in "Yankees clipart". You can do the exact same thing on Google if you'd prefer. The cartoon image with the fans in Yankee caps and the "Go Yankees" banner is one of ours. Microsoft and Google have simply stolen it for their own use.

7. You might also notice the official logo of Major League Baseball, several original Yankees' logos as well, and some other copyrighted works that are displayed by Microsoft on the exact same page with the Imageline clip art. Do you think Microsoft has a license to display and download any of these images?

8. Microsoft claims it is retrieving the Imageline clip art illustrations from Lunapics, or Freefever, or other infringing web sites, but they are NOT. They are stored in the Microsoft servers. The infringing web sites took the images down long ago!

9. Microsoft encourages you to place the infringed image into the Microsoft Scratchpad. From there, you can a) copy it to your computer, b) re-size it for use in other applications, c) e-mail it to a friend or business associate (or even a Boston fan), d) use it for your computer background as I have done here in Virginia, e) put it into a tiled background for a more dramatic impact, f) create a customized screen saver, or g) use readily available Windows software tools to modify, combine, or animate the copyrighted image. All EXCLUSIVE rights of the copyright holder. All copyright infringements by Microsoft.

10. We're talking about using the infringing images in the exact same size and resolution as they are stored in the Microsoft servers. This is not "indexing" or "framing" folks (sorry, Perfect 10 judges) ... this is DIRECT copyright infringement.

11. If ALL of the above are not flagrant examples of willful copyright infringement, I do not know what is. And I have been in this technology copyright game for over 25 years now. Remember, all of these infringements occur as a direct result of Microsoft instructions, Microsoft tools, and Microsoft trying to make extra billions of dollars from the hard work of others.

12. How long do you think it would take Microsoft's army of lawyers to ascend on Central Virginia if we tried the the exact same stunt with Halo 3 as referenced above? This is simply corporate hypocrisy at its highest and most dangerous level. And the reason I personally do not believe that the government should take any pressure off of Microsoft for complying with the anti-competitive restrictions placed on them years ago. In many areas, I think they've made a turn for the worse, even while under the government scrutiny.

13. In addition, Microsoft is now selling advertising on the exact web pages where all of this infringing activity occurs. Just like Google, Microsoft's new wicked twin sister in the copyright infringement "evil empire".

14. Neither Microsoft nor Google pay the original copyright holders a dime. While their five top so-called "executives" and "visionaries" have accumulated an astonishing $115 billion+ of wealth. What has happened to the morals and ethics of this country? And why aren't the existing copyright laws enforced against the largest violators in the land by far? Surely, lobbyists cannot be THAT powerful.

15. Until Washington politicians, the judiciary, and the business community as a whole, decide to enforce our laws evenly, and follow the rules of decency and fair play, there will be NO END to the damages caused by willful copyright infringement activity in this country. Let alone any chance in hell of lowering the copyright, trademark, and counterfeiting violations abroad.

This is a national crisis, folks. And I haven't heard a single candidate for president mention it even once. Nothing that is happening in business today could have the negative consequences on both the reputation and the pocketbook of hard working Americans like this issue. Once our morals and standards are gone, we may as well choose which other country we want to "follow".

Who knows, maybe Microsoft and Google will form their own country by then. I know a guy named Gates who will be without a job this time next year amd would likely love to be "president". Why not, these giant public companies are allowed to play by their own set of rules already. What a shame!

Mark my words on this one!

George P. Riddick, III
Imageline, Inc.
Posted by George Riddick (33 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I understand your frustration, but...
I understand your frustration, but there's no practical difference between a search engine indexing the textual copy of a web page, and indexing the images. Both can be copywrited. "Fair Use" in this regard means use of the images and text in order to provide search services. It is not possible to provide search services without storing the text or images to be searched. In order to provide search results that can be interpreted by a user, these must then be displayed in the user's browser. This is probably the principle of fair use claimed by Microsoft.

The one who owes damages is the one who originally stole the images from you, not the search engines that indexed it. If you don't want your images or text indexed, it's a simple matter to use a robots.txt or a robots meta tag to prevent such indexing. The IP thief obviously did not do so, and now the cat is out of the bag, metaphorically speaking. Eventually they'll probably get dropped from their search engines, assuming the page source (the IP thief) is properly returning an HTTP 404 File Not Found error. Some content management systems do not do this correctly, however, so you may find indexed entries sticking around for a long time. I did run a search as you suggested, but didn't find the images you're talking about.

BTW, I have no relationship with Microsoft or Google (except as a consumer, of course), nor do I work specifically in the search industry, though I am a consultant/programmer.

Like I said, I understand your frustration, but I think it's directed at the wrong organizations.

Posted by Mike Sharp (6 comments )
Link Flag
Overhyped & Over-Marketed!
I can't believe how much people are paying for a game with
about 6 hours of game play. There are some world class games
out there take take 80 hours to complete on normal mode. Most
of them have far better plots with all kinds of interesting side

Once again time stands still for another Microsoft moment. All I
can say to this is WOW! Some people will by anything Microsoft
will sell them without once looking at it objectively or waiting to
see if its any good. What's even more unbelieveable is that they'll
stand in line for hours or even days for this.

This is the best Microsoft has to offer? Tells me volumes about
the value of VISTA and all other Microsoft products. Hope they
figure out how to get EXCEL to count soon!

Posted by fastdodge (32 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Explode your website traffic everyday at
<a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a> 3000~6000 different IP abroad visit your website everyday as your need!!! which will great improve your web's Alexa Traffic Page Rank, great improve your web's Page Rank of Google &#38; Yahoo, great improve your web's Rank of Search Engines with the lowest price! <a class="jive-link-external" href="" target="_newWindow"></a>
Posted by aldenddlove (7 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Imageline, Inc. Trademark Infringement Again!
George, you little scamp, you really have been a very naughty boy again!
Please don't tell us you didn't know the Sydney Opera House is protected by the laws of the Commonwealth of Australia, including copyright law?
Apart from any use permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced by any process without written permission from the Sydney Opera House.
Images of SOH may be used by the media but not for advertising or other commercial uses.?
So George, are you absolutely SURE the image you've produced has never been sold for commercial use? In fact, there isn't one single mention of commercial restriction within the Imageline, Inc. Terms of Service. We don't even see an image licensing agreement. How odd!
Would it be fair to say that SOH have the absolute right to know ALL your customers and licensed distributors worldwide, audit ALL your accounts and claim compensation settlements of say, $3000 for each and every image you've sold of their property?
Move on George!!
George, if you're reading this, please do everyone a favour and move on. Clip-art like the one's you produced 20 years ago are from a time when computers ran on 32k of memory, had 8 colours, went 'blip' and where Winchester hard drives only existed in large corporate firms and science labs. Whilst everyone else has accepted technological progress, gracefully thrown all their old junk to the public domain and started afresh, you're clinging to the past like a scared child clings to it's mother, frightened to cope in the big commercial competitive world. I mean, it's not like your works are 'classical masterpieces', are they?

You proudly claim that Imageline, Inc. holds one of the largest archives of high quality vector-based clip art illustrations, page designs, digital logos, cartoons, and animations in the world. For an example of this 'high quality' just look at the image below. A crudely drawn, black and white picture even a five year old can draw. It's probably sad for you to know but everyone in the graphics design world is laughing behind your back.
George, you are not losing out because of piracy. You're losing out because no one wants to buy your rubbish drawings any more, get over it!
Time to move on George. Go do something less taxing instead, like gardening. Enjoy life instead of growing more bitter and resentful each day. You had a chance, now it's over, walk away and stop pestering everyone and wasting people's time with your petty and hate-fuelled ques
George P. Riddick, III we accuse you of trademark violation.

George P. Riddick, III is a man with a mission. A man with a singular and almost fanatical crusade to seek out and destroy those he claims to have violated his copyright and therefore should be burnt in hell (or pay out substantial amounts of cash, whichever the courts decide first, I guess)!

What George P. Riddick, III is possibly unaware of however, is that his collection of bitmap clip art is vastly out-dated crap that no one in their right mind apart from the odd backwater church community or primary school would ever nowadays use. Although he still viciously pursues and targets those as well.

On the other hand, maybe he does realise this and has devilishly discovered that the only way to generate vast amounts of income, is to sue people. For example, say your clip-art was selling for $20 a piece, but you could in fact gain 150 times the value by threatening to sue them for infringement, wow. I would say at least George is a good businessman, maybe he should have been a stock broker instead because he certainly isn't that great at drawing.

With the immense and truly wonderful power of the Internet, search engines as powered by Google and Microsoft collect and index information that makes it easier for everyone to find images. Mr Riddick is ferociously against this as he believes they infringe his copyright by holding his images on their servers, and therefore people can search and use them freely.

(Read his comment to an article here)

Well, I guess of course this would be correct if the images you are so fiercely protecting do not have a visual watermark -as nearly all commercially distributed photos and drawings sensibly have! If not (in the case of Imageline, Inc.), how on earth, with the multitude of clip-art out there, much of it free, do you know who owns it? Could Mr Riddick be blamed of negligence in protecting his work online? Could he also be accused of entrapment? Think about it. I take a photo, then copyright it and throw it out somewhere on the Internet without a watermark, wait for it to turn up on Google then sue them and anyone who downloads it for infringement. What a great way to make vast amounts of money!
Posted by imageline2 (1 comment )
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