Halo ReachFor years, the music industry has tried to battle piracy, but full albums leak to the Internet weeks, and sometimes months, before their release dates. Not only is it a common occurrence in the music biz, but also in the gaming arena as well.

The latest victim of video game leaks is the highly anticipated installment of the Halo franchise, called “Reach”, which has leaked nearly a full month before its September 14th release.

According to various reports, a copy of the title was lifted right off the Xbox Live Marketplace, Microsoft’s virtual goods store.

Apparently, the company placed a copy of Halo: Reach on its public server, under password protection for select media outlets who were writing advanced reviews. But, a group of hackers stumbled upon it and got their hands on it.

The game was placed in a hidden area of the Xbox Live Marketplace, and was even given a price tag og 99,999 Microsoft points (around $1,250) so that if anyone stumbled upon it, it wouldn’t be downloaded freely.

That didn’t stop a hacker group called GameTuts, who bypassed the restrictions and leaked it, which was first reported by UK’s The Register.

At press time, it was unknown how GameTuts found the game, or how they hacked into it to gain access.

Since its leak, it’s been spreading fast across the net via torrent download sites.

So far, Microsoft says they are “aggressively” investigating the reports.

“Posting to Discuss, Request, or Link To information or campaign spoilers from illegitimately obtained sources — including illegitimately obtained copies of Halo: Reach — before the game is officially released will be considered a leak and will be treated as such,” moderators on the game’s forums said.

This isn’t the first time a Halo title has leaked before it hit stores. Since debuting six years ago, almost every installment has leaked ahead of time. Halo 2 found its way to the net in October 2004, a month before its official release; then Halo 3 was sold early; and Halo 3: ODST is also reported to have suffered from the same mistake.