Man Tinkers with Skylanders Figures, Gets Cease-and-Desist from Activision

December 29, 2011 -

Hacker Brandon Wilson decided to tinker with Activision's Skylanders action figures to see how they work. In case you don't know, Skylanders uses action figures that are placed on a portal peripheral that makes them appear in the game by reading the bottom of the figure.

After playing around with the action figure's RFID bases, he collected data and stored it in a .zip file on his personal website. He didn't think much of it at the time, but he would soon find out that some people didn't like him or his data very much. One day Wilson came home from work to find someone waiting for him at his door. It was a process server who handed him a legal notice (a cease-and-desist letter, to be precise) from Activision, accusing him of hacking and demanding that he take down all that work he stored on his website..

Wilson says that the most of the accusations from Activision are completely inaccurate. For instance, they allege that he reverse-engineered the Skylanders RFID code, is working with others to hack the game, and is collaborating those efforts on a message board.

Activision claims in its legal notice that Wilson's hacking efforts would enable changing the stats and equipment of the Skylanders without actually playing the game. They also say that the hacking could enable players to use something other than a Skylanders model to allow a user to switch back and forth between Skylanders they didn’t own.

Wilson points out in his response to Activision that none of the examples pointed out in the take down notice, including a link to a website where Wilson supposedly published his findings, are true. Wilson says that the only thing he had was a zip file with the file dump from one of the Skylanders, which wasn’t made public and wasn’t announced when it was put on his website. Despite all of that, Wilson removed the information from his website, and replaced them with the take down notice and his response.

You can read Activision's notice here and Wilson's response here.



Re: Man Tinkers with Skylanders Figures, Gets ...

Well, this makes me regret trying out the first Modern Warfare game.

Re: Man Tinkers with Skylanders Figures, Gets ...

And people wonder why we need due process in copyright claims.....

Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.


Re: Man Tinkers with Skylanders Figures, Gets ...

Streisand Effect in 3...2....1....

Re: Man Tinkers with Skylanders Figures, Gets ...

I'm surprised that Activision actually found out about what this guy was doing. Must be that paranoid.

Granted, I'm surprised someone wasn't doing this before, because this whole 'toy' thing is complete bullshit and is just another way to make more money off consumers, but whatever.

Re: Man Tinkers with Skylanders Figures, Gets ...

There may be a license included with the figures which says something to the effect that the user agrees not to hack or reverse-engineer the figures. Sure the guy didn't post them to forums, but does putting them on a website count as public dissemination? Interesting to see where this will end up.

Re: Man Tinkers with Skylanders Figures, Gets ...

Most evil game publishers today? Activision, Ubisoft, and EA. In no particular order.

Re: Man Tinkers with Skylanders Figures, Gets ...

"Activision claims in its legal notice that Wilson's hacking efforts would enable changing the stats and equipment of the Skylanders without actually playing the game. They also say that the hacking could enable players to use something other than a Skylanders model to allow a user to switch back and forth between Skylanders they didn’t own."

Even if true, is any of that actually illegal?

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