According to reports on online forums, a number of 'launcher' programs for Sony's PlayStation Portable handheld have now been released via BitTorrent and other P2P networks, allowing users to run pirated versions of PSP games via the Memory Stick Pro Duo.
Unauthorized copies of the U.S. version of puzzle title Lumines are apparently already up and running on a v1.50 firmware PSP, albeit without sound (a significant omission in the case of the game). Additional launchers are already been reported, for games including Archer Maclean's Mercury, Puzzle Bobble, and even Konami's first person shoot 'em-up Coded Arms - which is yet to be released outside of Japan.
The launcher (or loader) is an executable file which allows extracted game ISO files to be run from a memory stick. The news will likely be of grave concern to Sony, who were likely not expecting the PSP's copy protection as it relates to games to be cracked so earlier into the console's life cycle, even before it launches in some territories such as Europe.
The portable console's ability to connect to a PC makes it particularly easy for committed pirates to obtain the necessary launcher and ISO files. However, since inserted PSP games can automatically force a firmware upgrade via the UMD disc (the Asian version of Coded Arms does just this), Sony will likely attempt to patch this latest exploit with the next round of PSP games.