While some people out there may think it's cool to get your hands on something before it's officially released, it should be pretty obvious in today's world that if you do partake in the pleasantries of "stolen" goods, there's going to some kind of ramification. And, considering the depth and range of Xbox LIVE, Microsoft has had to hone its banhammer over the years, making it better and better as the hackers and modders out there got smarter. First spied on Xbox LIVE as a download needed to be accessed with a special code, Halo: Reach was quickly hijacked from Microsoft servers, and modders went out of their way to play it. But, it's a pretty simple thing to find those who downloaded the leaked version, catch them playing on Xbox LIVE, and ban them. Permanently.
And you know that the Redmond-based company is serious when their Director of Policy Enforcement for Xbox LIVE steps into the game, and makes a public announcement about the whole thing. According to Stephen Toulouse, if you play Halo: Reach, as in the unauthorized leaked version that made its presence known last week, you'll get banned. And this isn't just some kind of cute ban, where you'll be unable to play online for a week or two. Oh no. You'll be permanently banned, says Toulouse. It's called a permaban, and it's a real thing.
Of course, if you wait until September 14th (when Halo: Reach is scheduled to release), then you won't have an issue. Buying and playing the game isn't illegal, and we're pretty sure Microsoft actually wants you to do that. It's unknown at this point whether or not Microsoft has already started swinging the banhammer, but considering the amount of spoilers that are out there now, there seems to be plenty of people to start hitting with it.