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Halo 4 leaked, pirates banned from Xbox Live

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Halo 4 (Credit: Microsoft)

Master Chief might have no problem taking down aliens, but pirates? They're a little trickier.

Over the weekend, it became apparent that pirated copies of Halo 4 were being circulated around the web on various peer-to-peer sites. The game, Microsoft's flagship holiday title, isn't due out until November 6. To say Microsoft is unhappy about the situation is a severe understatement.

"We are aware of isolated cases in which Halo 4 content has been propped on the web and are working closely with our security teams and law enforcement to address the situation immediately," the company said in a statement.

"Consumers should be aware that piracy is illegal and we take vigorous action against illegal activity related to our products and services."

And they certainly have. Anyone found playing a pirated copy of Halo 4 wins a permanent Xbox Live ban, for starters.

"This email is to notify you that your Xbox Live privileges have been permanently suspended due to illegitimate prerelease title play," reads an email sent to suspected pirates.  "Because your conduct is in violation, the Xbox Live Enforcement Team has issued a permanent suspension. Your Xbox Live privileges will not be reinstated."

Microsoft is additionally looking into banning specific consoles outright to dissuade pirates from simply creating new online accounts.

The leak hasn't just wreaked havoc at Microsoft -- it's also been a mess for fans hoping to avoid spoilers. Several pirates have posted videos revealing key moments from the game's campaign, which picks up just after the events in 2007's Halo 3. Despite the leak, the game is expected to be one of the top-selling titles of 2012.

And despite efforts to thwart it, game piracy is still pretty rampant. In August, Ubisoft head Yves Guillemot claimed that roughly 95% of his company's PC games were pirated, which contributed to Ubisoft's decision to explore free-to-play game models.

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