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Sony battles hackers over hijacked games

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Hackers have cracked piracy protections on Sony Corp.'s PlayStation Portable in the United States, the latest chapter in the company's battle to block unauthorized game use on its new hand-held device.

The world's top maker of video game consoles rolled out a downloadable fix for the software flaw that opened the door for the latest attack by hackers, who quickly cracked the original version of the PSP shortly after its release in Japan late last year.

In their latest move, hackers have enabled PSP users to download some games from pirate Web sites onto removable memory sticks and then to insert the games to run on the PSP.

Currently available titles include "Mercury," Ubisoft's "Lumines," "Coded Arms" from Konami, Taito Corp.'s "Puzzle Bobble" and Sony's own "Intelligent License," according to gaming Web sites.

The new game duplicating trick works on the PSP's 1.5 version firmware, which serves as the PSP operating system. The PSP was released in the U.S. in March with the 1.5 version firmware.

Sony released firmware version 1.51 in May, patching the hole that made room for the hack. Upcoming game titles will require PSP users run updated firmware, a move aimed at preventing users from copying games.

Sony Computer Entertainment America said in an e-mailed statement that hacking or the operation of "homebrew" software programs may damage the PSP, and void the warranty.

The PSP boasts a high-resolution viewing screen and has been in the sights of technology enthusiasts and software programmers, who want to use it to run copies of everything from games and music to e-books to movies.

Groups of hackers are close to releasing new technology that would allow any copied game -- rather than the current, limited set -- to be played on the PSP, an editor at gaming site, who identified himself as "CJ," said in an e-mail on Tuesday.

The PSP European launch is set for September.

The world's top maker of video game consoles rolled out a downloadable fix for the software flaw that opened the door for the latest attack by hackers, who quickly cracked the original version of the PSP shortly after its release in Japan late last year.


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