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Mod Chips Legal In the UK

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the mod-fish-still-under-scrutiny dept.

Hardware Hacking 169

An anonymous reader writes "Good news out of the UK! Techdirt reports that an appeals court has overturned a lower court ruling and has now said that mod chips do not violate copyright laws. The case involved a mod chip seller, who imported mod chips for the XBox from Hong Kong and would sell the chips or mod the Xbox's himself. He was charged with copyright infringement and found guilty by a lower court. The appeals court has dismissed all charges, however."

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169 comments

This is ridiculous... (5, Insightful)

superash (1045796) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775737)

After I buy something, it is _mine_ ! Case closed. I can do whatever I want to do with it. If I had stolen it then I am guilty. I don't see a case otherwise.

Re:This is ridiculous... (0, Offtopic)

dnwq (910646) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775749)

... Is there a swarm of bots replying to articles based on keywords or something? Dude, why the heck are you complaining?

Re:This is ridiculous... (4, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775799)

Unless it's licensed, not sold :)

Fortunately the 'first sale' principal has held up in most places where it has been tested, so your argument seems to hold true.

But to stretch your argument until it breaks, if you buy a gun then it's yours, but you still aren't allowed to modify it in such a way that it is illegal (eg upgrade it to semi automatic, saw of the barrel(s) to make it easier to conceal). Likewise if a law is introduced that says you cannot modify your games console to allow it to play illegal games then your argument is incorrect, and I think that is what was being tested here (although I think they were trying to make an existing law apply rather than testing a law brought in to address that problem specifically).

Re:This is ridiculous... (4, Interesting)

arivanov (12034) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775857)

If it is licensed not sold it is subject to a different taxation regime.

The vendors and especially the software ones cannot have it both ways. It is either a sale or a rent.

It it is a sale it is subject to appropriate financial regime for sales (VAT, can be registered as a capital asset, depreciation, etc). Income from sales can be taxed in a different jurisdiction. Even if the sale has taken place in a "nasty taxation" place like UK, Scandinavia, New York, etc, all taxation can be done in a place with lax taxation like Ireland in the EU or Texas in the USA.

If it is a rent it cannot be depreciated and cannot count for capex. It is opex, period. Similarly, income from rent in nearly all countries in the world must be taxed locally. The usual tax evasion practices of big software and hardware vendors are outright illegal and forbidden by law.

So frankly, if it is licensed and the licensing contract is valid - come on, try to prove it. All the defendant needs to bring are the taxation statements of company X. If X wins it will lose its taxation regime.

Lose-lose.

Re:This is ridiculous... (1)

Gastrobot (998966) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776349)

I am not a lawyer. Don't rely on this in court based on my say-so.

Interesting, but I think that it is a purchase.

You are purchasing the license, not the software itself. In most cases I'd say you're also purchasing the media that the software is on, but then there are those occasional EULAs that stipulate that the original material must be destroyed if the license is violated (if I'm recalling that correctly).

Also, I would say that you'd have a hard time referring to anything as "renting" if you pay a one time fee for indefinite use of it.

The phrasing of "licensed not sold" does leave some room for debate about what exactly the licensor intends, though.

Re:This is ridiculous... (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776401)

The whole rent thing is just a bit of a bad idea in the case where you get a physical object that cannot be returned, and the leasing company does not ever want it back. If in fact you are leasing it, the repairs of such should be free of charge if they are not due to normal use, and you as a lease holder are due a proper and functioning unit while the lease is current.

If the cost of an xbox is a lifetime lease, then the product should be accompanied by lifetime warranty, lifetime repair as well. When leasing a house or car, you are responsible for damage to the property, normally paid on termination of the lease. This process is not in use for the xbox, indicating that it is NOT a lease, but a sale. Where lifetime == term of the lease.

I've not explained that correctly, but under the law MS has not acted like someone renting out games consoles. They behave like someone selling them. Until that changes, doctrine of first sale applies.

The movie rental place by my house 'rents' games consoles, and they act like they are renting it. MS does not do that, and charges a different price as well. Intent has a lot to do with how many judicial processes look at things. Intent to murder and accident are two different things as an example.

Just how I see it.

Re:This is ridiculous... (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#23777087)

The whole rent thing is just a bit of a bad idea in the case where you get a physical object that cannot be returned, and the leasing company does not ever want it back.
Well, that depends. There can be some serious tax advantages to leasing instead of buying.

This process is not in use for the xbox, indicating that it is NOT a lease, but a sale.
You don't even need to go that far. Look at your receipt of purchase -- it is a sales receipt, not a lease agreement.

As far as licensing goes, that's a different issue. One could, theoretically, sell the hardware but license the use of the software contained on it. That's the crux of the issue -- if the software (and firmware) is sold as a non-transferable license, does the doctrine of first sale apply? Can the software even be sold as a non-transferable license, when it is bundled with the hardware?

In reality, leasing has little to do with licensing. One could, I guess, enter a lease agreement on a license... but that would be silly. I'm not sure why the OP in the thread brought up leasing at all.

Re:This is ridiculous... (5, Informative)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776545)

Even if the sale has taken place in a "nasty taxation" place like UK, Scandinavia, New York, etc, all taxation can be done in a place with lax taxation like Ireland in the EU or Texas in the USA.
False. Ever hear of use tax? If you use the good in NY, and its a taxable good, be prepared to pay use tax is the sales tax paid on the purchase is less than the sales tax in NY.

If it is a rent it cannot be depreciated and cannot count for capex. It is opex, period.
You sound pretty confident for someone who doesn't know what they are talking about. Capital leases are very common... that's when you have a lease (rental agreement) and you capitalize the asset. The stream of payments for the lease is amortized, and meanwhile you depreciate the asset and record your depreciation expense.

The usual tax evasion practices of big software and hardware vendors are outright illegal and forbidden by law
What are you talking about?

I'd also add that licensing != leasing, I think you're confused on the topic.

I guess, to sum up, I'd say that gettig accounting/finance advice on slashdot is like getting legal advice on slashdot. Some of it seems to make sense, but I'd rather have duct tape ripped from my scrotum than have to go before the courts or the IRS using advice from slashdot as my only source of information.

Re:This is ridiculous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23777069)

So graphic, and yet so funny...

Re:This is ridiculous... (2, Funny)

reddburn (1109121) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776577)

The usual tax evasion practices of big software and hardware vendors are outright illegal and forbidden by law.
At the same time? Is THAT legal?

Re:This is ridiculous... (2, Insightful)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775861)

What if I modify my own brain to play illegal games without use of any external devices? Will I be a criminal charged for copyright infringement? Will I have my brain removed? How do they know what could be there in my brain?

Re:This is ridiculous... (2, Funny)

Vectronic (1221470) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776001)

They wouldnt know, but if you started cutting out pieces of your own brain and selling it at the street corner, its likely it would raise some eyebrows, and thats what this guy was doing, selling the mod chips.

You still need a modchip to run homebrew (2, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776173)

Likewise if a law is introduced that says you cannot modify your games console to allow it to play illegal games then your argument is incorrect
Does something like XBMC count as "illegal games"?

Re:This is ridiculous... (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776359)

You are allowed to modify it in any way you want. You are not allowed to possess an easily concealable weapon in that gauge nor a semi-automatic one.

Law would have to be introduced that prohibits you from having the console mods required to play pirated console games.

Re:This is ridiculous... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776895)

Law would have to be introduced that prohibits you from having the console mods required to play pirated console games.
Nobody seems to have heard you, brother.You may have to say it a little louder.

Are we so desperately addicted to our little consumer fantasies that we'll allow absolutely any insult from the corporate/legal molochs?

Re:This is ridiculous... (1, Informative)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776407)

But to stretch your argument until it breaks, if you buy a gun then it's yours, but you still aren't allowed to modify it in such a way that it is illegal (eg upgrade it to semi automatic,
Actually, in the U.S., it is legal to upgrade a gun. Selling a certain semi-automatics and fully-automatics is illegal, but changing parts out to turn a gun into a semi or even a fully automatic is not illegal. In fact, gun manufacturers have even made a point of making such modifications easier.

Also, the reason you saw off the barrels of a shotgun is not soley to make it easier to conceal -- it also causes the charges to spread more.

Likewise if a law is introduced that says you cannot modify your games console to allow it to play illegal games then your argument is incorrect, and I think that is what was being tested here
Under the DMCA in the U.S., it's illegal to modify an Xbox because it (potentially) bypasses DRM. I think what was being tested in the U.K. was a very similar law.

Big Time Wrong (2, Informative)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776765)

Sorry, but in the US, just having the PARTS to convert any firearm to a full-auto is a felony. It is most certainly NOT legal to do that one.

There is a case winding through the courts where a man was convicted because his rifle apparently malfunctioned due to mechanical wear and went full-auto. He was convicted.

Re:Big Time Wrong (2, Insightful)

knight24k (1115643) | more than 5 years ago | (#23777329)

Sorry, but in the US, just having the PARTS without a license to convert any firearm to a full-auto is a felony. It is most certainly NOT legal to do that one.
There, fixed it for you. Possession is not illegal, possession without the proper license is. Possession of a FFL along with the proper license can legally possess both semi and fully automatic weapons and their parts. They can even possess and purchase suppressors if they so choose. These items are heavily regulated and monitored, but are not banned or illegal. As for your anecdotal case. Unless you know the specifics I would hazard a guess that either the jury didn't believe his story or the judge didn't or both. Just because he claims that it went full auto due to normal wear doesn't make it true.

Re:This is ridiculous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23777243)

At the gun range I work at, changing a gun from full auto to semi auto, is a downgrade. And yes, one would saw the barrel off a shotgun to hide it easier. Dont need a 28" barrel for a liquor store robbery.

Re:This is ridiculous... (1)

tehcyder (746570) | more than 5 years ago | (#23777497)

Also, the reason you saw off the barrels of a shotgun is not soley to make it easier to conceal -- it also causes the charges to spread more
That's why a sawn-off used to be so popular with professional armed robbers - they didn't generally want to kill people (in the UK) just to make a large frightening bang if necessary.

Re:This is ridiculous... (4, Interesting)

sqldr (838964) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776493)

I once saw a conference with bill gates, where a child popped his hand up to ask a question. We never got to hear the question. He got as far as "my dad bought me a copy of windows". He interrupted to say "he didn't buy it, he /licensed/ it" before going off on a diatribe that instead of owning a tangible object (a CD with windows on it), you are licensing the 1s and 0s on it. He was about 12 years old. What a cunt.

Re:This is ridiculous... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23776971)

Citation / proof, or shut your fucking face.

Re:This is ridiculous... (1)

joss (1346) | more than 5 years ago | (#23777115)

Wow, what a cunt u r. He was talking about a personal experience. You can choose not to believe him but not all personal experiences are recorded and have a url [although a depressingly large proportion do thanks to fucking facebook etc]

Re:This is ridiculous... (2, Insightful)

Spokehedz (599285) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776543)

Mod chips should not be illegal because of the 'might do' senario. A modchip can't play illegal games all by itself. It takes at least three steps in order to make it play stolen games:

1. Download it
2. Burn it
3. Put it in the console

Otherwise, it is just a chip with code on it. Nothing more. YOU have to make the decision to play a game that you do not legally own. Not the console or the modchip.

To continue your gun example... I might go out and kill someone with my gun.

Would making my gun fire faster want to make me kill more? No.

Would making it easier to conceal make me want to kill more? No.

Would it make it easier? Well, duh. That's not the issue. It was possible before I modded it to kill someone with my gun, and it is still possible after I mod it. All that is changed is how easy it was to kill someone with it.

It was possible to play games I don't own before--all I had to do was steal them from the store. Pretty easy, with how lax stores are these days with camera security and such... But the fact of the matter is that I had to steal something somehow. Not the console, the chip, or anything else. Me.

*** I used myself as an example, and I do not own any stolen games. Nor do I plan on owning any stolen games. And I don't plan on going out and killing anybody any time soon either. ****

Re:This is ridiculous... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23776721)

But to stretch your argument until it breaks, if you buy a gun then it's yours, but you still aren't allowed to modify it in such a way that it is illegal (eg upgrade it to semi automatic, saw of the barrel(s) to make it easier to conceal).
Ah, yes, but this is not due to *copyright law*. It's not the manufacturer telling you "I've got a copyright on my gun's design, therefore you can't modify the one you bought".

Re:This is ridiculous... (1)

PopeRatzo (965947) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776757)

Unless it's licensed, not sold :)
"Licensed" is bullshit.

If I leave the store after having exchanged my money for an object, which I carry away in a nice plastic bag, I bought it. "License" my ass.

How badly are we consumers going to let corporations abuse us before we decide that they are not simply amoral entities for accumulating wealth, but rather bad actors who will gladly hurt us if it means a bump in their stock price?

Re:This is ridiculous... (5, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775863)

After I buy something, it is _mine_ ! Case closed.
Nope, I'm pretty certain you have to open it to put the new chip in.

Re:This is ridiculous... (1)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776411)

After I buy something, it is _mine_ ! Case closed. I can do whatever I want to do with it.

I hope you don't buy a gun.

Re:This is ridiculous... (1)

Taulin (569009) | more than 5 years ago | (#23777405)

The reason this is a copyright law is due to the chip modifying the hardware, and actually changing the unit. I don't think it really is about being able to play illegal games, which I also think should be a reason.

A true case in point: a guy made a statue for a high school that was displayed out front. The school put clothes and stuff on it, and he said take them off. They wouldn't, the artists sued the school and won. Why? It modified his original design which he owns the copyright on.

Same for the console. Microsoft owns the copyright to the design of the console. Modifying, and reselling is what copyrights are meant to protect.

fp! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23775739)

I win the internets!

Expect anti-modchip legislation in 3, 2, 1... (4, Interesting)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775753)

Don't expect them to give up. Just like Bush was recently lost his third case in the US supreme court for the third time over Gitmo prisoners, they keep coming back and is considering new legislation to "solve" the problem.

Re:Expect anti-modchip legislation in 3, 2, 1... (2, Insightful)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775911)

That's because the view (which is, to their mind, legitimate), is not that modding isn't illegal, its just that the law hasn't caught up with the requirements of modern technology.

There are situations where this viewpoint is entirely valid, and some where it is not. Thats why we have the judiciary in the first place.

Re:Expect anti-modchip legislation in 3, 2, 1... (4, Insightful)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776131)

In general, I think they're far too trigger-happy on creating new laws because it happens to be an old crime using new technology. Like the law a little while back on "cyberbulling", isn't harassment already a crime? Fraud? Theft? Blackmail? If i blocked the door to your brick-and-mortar store, they'd certainly find a way to prosecute my "denial-of-service" attack. Yes, there are probably a few crimes that really are new, but most aren't. Sometimes they don't make sense like we go from big industrial pirate industry to smalltime individual pirates, then the penalites should go up, up and away. Cyber-something is most an excuse to push new laws going in the direction they want.

Re:Expect anti-modchip legislation in 3, 2, 1... (1)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776389)

The law doesn't need to do any catching up. They should go after the people who copy the games, the people who import the pirated games, not the mod chip makers (who do things like allow you to run homebrew software). If modchips were widespread, you would see a lot more of those nice homebrew titles.

Oh... It's hard go go after the bad guys? They shoot back?! Too bad. Live with it.

I bet nobody would seriously consider introducing new legislation just to make my job easier. Laws are not for that.

Re:Expect anti-modchip legislation in 3, 2, 1... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23776141)

Expect a government campaign just as some movie companies started on DVD's again that using MOD chips funds terrorism.

Re:Expect anti-modchip legislation in 3, 2, 1... (5, Funny)

drsquare (530038) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776201)

And the best part is, under new legislation, mod-chip sellers can be held for 42 days without charge.

Re:Expect anti-modchip legislation in 3, 2, 1... (1)

theshibboleth (968645) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776221)

What relevance does this have to modchips in the UK? Whatever Bush may be doing, I don't think he's fighting against modchips in British courts... I doubt he really has an opinion on modchips.

What the hell is Anthony Kennedy smoking? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23776301)

So now some 7th-century foreign head-chopper who was captured in battle (NOT wearing a uniform and purposely concealing themselves among the civilian population I might add) has the same rights as an American citizen? Osama must be laughing at the traitors who sit on our highest court. Kennedy allowed his Bush Derangement Syndrome to distort reality, and now foreign fighters (who themselves would show us no such consideration) will make a mockery of our already beleaguered judicial system. This was indeed part of Bin Laden's plan - to use our own institutions to bring about our destruction. Sleep tight folks. Who would have thought on Sept. 12, 2001, that in 7 years we wouldn't experience another attack? You should be kissing Bush's ass. Hope you leftist cunts like living in servitude to Muslim barbarians. Fucking Dhimmis.

Re:Expect anti-modchip legislation in 3, 2, 1... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23777205)

A Bush troll post? Here's your free karma!

Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (5, Interesting)

apathy maybe (922212) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775755)

At least, not by any sensible person's definition or understanding of the term "copyright". That is, there may be some legal jurisdictions where a piece of hardware can be considered a violation of copyright law, even if that hardware is not in and off itself a violation. (If you know what I mean.) However, in no sensible place could it be considered to break copyright, anymore then region free DVD players could be considered tools to break copyright.

(I believe in Australia both are perfectly legal.)

Of course, what the law says, and what a sensible person would expect the law to say are often two completely different things. Where the law is too complex for the average person to understand, then there is something wrong with it. (Resists temptation to explain why all laws are wrong, complex or not.)

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (1)

kramulous (977841) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775791)

(I believe in Australia both are perfectly legal.)

Just keeping my great, great grandparents proud. History is a bitch to live with, you know.

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (3, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776191)

So kick her out.

That is, after all, what most people choose to do.

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (1)

Aaron Denney (123626) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775793)

(Resists temptation to explain why all laws are wrong, complex or not.)

Unsuccessfully resists temptation, perhaps.

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (1)

Devin Jeanpierre (1243322) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776185)

Nah, he unsuccessfully resisted the temptation to mention how he successfully resisted the temptation (aaah) to explain it in any detail, rather than just mention it without any explanation.

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (5, Interesting)

teh kurisu (701097) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775855)

Of course, what the law says, and what a sensible person would expect the law to say are often two completely different things.

I understand why copyright infringement is illegal. What I don't understand is why facilitating copyright infringement is illegal. It's conceivable that somebody is coming to harm when copyright infringement occurs, but nobody necessarily comes to harm when facilitation occurs. If I'm not mistaken, mod chips potentially fall under the

I say potentially because mod chips can be used to play import games, which is a legal activity (the fact that Sony somehow managed to shut down Lik-Sang notwithstanding). I've long held the (totally unsubstantiated) belief that games console manufacturers deliberately tie together their region encoding and copy protection functions, where disabling one disables both, so that they can cry copyright infringement whenever somebody mods their console for the purpose of playing imports.

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23776247)

I understand why copyright infringement is illegal. What I don't understand is why facilitating copyright infringement is illegal.
Well, I assume it's the obvious:

(1) We want to prevent copyright infringement (see why copyright infringement is illegal).
(2) Banning possession of mod chips will help achieve (1) as pirated games cannot be played.
(3) Banning sale of mod chips is easier than (2) as it is easier to prosecute ten distributors than a thousand consumers.
(4) Politicians decide, rightly or wrongly, "allowing import games and backup copies" is wanted only by a small fraction of people.
(5) Politicians judge that our collective desire from (1) to prevent copyright infringement, scaled by the effectiveness of (2) and (3), is greater than our desire from (4) for the non-piracy benefits of mod chips.

There are other examples of laws like this; driving fast doesn't harm people, vehicle/vehicle and vehicle/pedestrian collisions harm people. But we regulate vehicle speed to achieve the goal of regulating vehicle/vehicle and vehicle/pedestrian collisions because vehicle speed is easier to regulate.

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23776509)

"I've long held the (totally unsubstantiated) belief that games console manufacturers deliberately tie together their region encoding and copy protection functions, where disabling one disables both, so that they can cry copyright infringement whenever somebody mods their console for the purpose of playing imports."

If you can have one "feature" which can do the work of two, why face the expenditure of two? I think you're right, but I'm not sure nefarious purposes always stand up to price pressures.

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (2, Informative)

oliverthered (187439) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775901)

More over,
DRM isn't copy protection, any one (with the tech) can copy/clone the disk physically and it will work just fine. It's playback protection.

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775949)

It's playback prevention.

Nobody protects my playback. Actually, the opposite takes place.

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (4, Insightful)

SkunkPussy (85271) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775903)

"Where the law is too complex for the average person to understand, then there is something wrong with it."
great point. I have been saying for some time, that as there are so many laws that its impossible for any individual to be aware of all legislation that pertains to them, how can it be possible for a well-meaning individual to obey said laws? Therefore how can this legislation be valid?

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (3, Insightful)

EveLibertine (847955) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776087)

Ignorantia legis non excusat

Ignorantia legis non excusat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23776139)

Actually, if you think about it, ignorance of the law _is_ a pretty good excuse.

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776181)

Ignorantia legis non excusat
Could you translate all statutes that apply in your jurisdiction into similar Latin by this time next year?

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776363)

Why not?

Perhaps it shouldn't be seen as a good excuse, but if there was a law that makes no sense and there was no possible reason that the perpetrator had heard of it, why shouldn't it be an offence? And what if the law is unclear? We're supposed to guess how a court will interpret it!

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (1)

rufty_tufty (888596) | more than 5 years ago | (#23777181)

Fine,
Please tell me where I can find a record of all the laws I need to follow. As far as I can tell, there is no actual law of the land - there's any number of laws unintelligibly recorded in a thousand conflicting laws hodgepode enacted over the course of centuries. And then there's just the statutes of civil law which even students of law cannot be aware of all of.
If it's not possible for me be able to remove my ignorance of the law, then ignorance of the law is a valid excuse.

Strangely of all the textbooks and lessons I had at school what the laws of this land actually are was never one of them. I can see no reason for this.

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (1)

einzi (1306993) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776065)

I believe that this technology by it self is not breaking copyright since it allows me to use backup copies, that is legal to do in Iceland and is even noted in copyright laws. Don't know how it is in the UK.

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (4, Informative)

Kjella (173770) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776079)

Of course, what the law says, and what a sensible person would expect the law to say are often two completely different things. Where the law is too complex for the average person to understand, then there is something wrong with it.
I think you're mixing two different things here:
1. The person has never read the law, only guessing on what he expects.
2. The person has read the law, but still don't get what it's saying.

The first one usually happens because there's a lot more cases to cover than what can be briefly summarized. For example you'd naturally assume copyright has to do with copying, yet for example public display doesn't involve copying at all yet it's one of the exclusive rights. I think it's rather presumptious to think that a person should be able to think up everything by themselves. Or if you want an example that something is legal instead of what's expected many people think the exclusive right to copy is absolute and final, not thinking up any "fair use" unless it's pointed out to them.

Neither of these are really a big problem with the law, it's rather that most people don't have time to be familiar with the entire body of law. Nor do you really have to be, I need to know stealing is illegal but not every detail about what's petty theft, armed theft, grand theft, robbery, armed robbery and so on. Nor to I need to know things like building codes unless I intend to build a building. The actual level of detail required to function like a normal citizen isn't that high.

The other issue can be a big problem, but usually it happens because the law is trying to be very, very precise which makes it full of definitions, enumerations and whatnot that reference each other and are made up of very awkward English. And that's just when they don't use terms with a specific legal meaning, which happens in all professional fields. Often it ends up being close to what the public expects, but it's hard to understand. It leads to gems like this (from the defintion of "Pictorial, graphic, and sculptural works"):

"Such works shall include works of artistic craftsmanship insofar as their form but not their mechanical or utilitarian aspects are concerned; the design of a useful article, as defined in this section, shall be considered a pictorial, graphic, or sculptural work only if, and only to the extent that, such design incorporates pictorial, graphic, or sculptural features that can be identified separately from, and are capable of existing independently of, the utilitarian aspects of the article."

Do you understand what it's trying to say? It's trying to deal with for example an engraved sword, and isn't unreasonable. I can understand people completely mind blanking when they hit a sentence like that though. Obtuse laws are actually a greater danger IMO than over-detailed laws. If a law leaves great room for interpretation, it will almost certainly be bent to be used in the most unreasonable ways. There's been quite a few examples of that pointed out there where "terrorism" laws are being used to deal with people that in no way are, or could even reasonably suspected to be terrorists.

If the law was to be easy tor the average person to understand, I don't think it could deal with the corner cases. In a court case, people don't sit together and reasonably discuss what a natural interpretation of the law is, it's one party bent on conviction and one party bent on not getting convicted. It won't be an academic discussion, it'll be SCOs legal theories and they need to be refuted point by point using precise definitions, which are inherently hard to understand.

I think the biggest issue is the distance between recognizing that a law is bad and being able to do something about it. Not many are going to flip-flop between democrats and republicans over single laws? In europe it's generally a litle better since you have more parties so with public pressure people move to "adjacent" parties, but then there's other concerns. For example, there have been EU directives that tend to pass no matter how much local opposition there is, because the decision was made some years ago in Brussels. Identifying a bad apple does very little if you can't make the politicians remove it. That is the real problem IMO, not identitifying them as such.

Clearing misunderstood words (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776237)

Nor to I need to know things like building codes unless I intend to build a building.
If you own a home, you rebuild it continuously as you live in it.

I can understand people completely mind blanking when they hit a sentence like that though.
Mind blanking is one of the symptoms of a misunderstood word [wikipedia.org], illustrated in an episode of Muppet Babies that explored misunderstanding of "tuffet" [wikipedia.org]. If you're new to legalese, make sure to keep a good dictionary at your side so that you can clear these words [scientologyhandbook.org]. I still don't know why legal information web sites don't generally give readers more tools to clear words, such as a built-in dictionary. Is it because a complete Free dictionary doesn't exist yet?

Re:Clearing misunderstood words (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23776497)

Are you seriously advocating a Scientology-based approach to legal study? ...on Slashdot?

Re:Clearing misunderstood words (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776627)

AC wrote:

Are you seriously advocating a Scientology-based approach to legal study? ...on Slashdot?
Every religion has good ideas and bad ideas. A stress on vocabulary building just happens to be one of Scientology's good ideas.

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (1)

Idaho (12907) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776717)

Of course just when I lose my mod points I see a worthwhile post....please mod parent up because (s)he's making a lot of sense :)

Re:Of course they don't violate ... copyright ... (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776309)

It's more complicated than that. A device that only has the ability to infringe copyright is illegal under the copyright act in most countries. This tends to cover anything with a trivial exception that might otherwise be used to circumvent the law.

Couldn't find details but presumably the lower court felt that ability to play imported discs, backups and homebrew software was a trivial exception, and the higher court disagreed.

I seriously doubt (0, Redundant)

Rik Sweeney (471717) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775825)

that this will stop Microsoft from banning people from Xbox Live who have modded their systems.

Re:I seriously doubt (5, Insightful)

Silver Sloth (770927) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775859)

At the risk of being accused of trolling Microsoft have the right to decide whatever rules they like about access to Xbox live.

Re:I seriously doubt (4, Informative)

thermian (1267986) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775933)

At the risk of being accused of trolling Microsoft have the right to decide whatever rules they like about access to Xbox live.

They own it and operate it, so yes I agree, they do.

Whether such bannings would be considered fair by anyone else is beside the point, they can do what they want. We are not under any obligation to use Xbox live.

Provided the modding crowd is sufficiently small, they can do it without even effecting the majority of the community.

Re:I seriously doubt (1)

batkiwi (137781) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776147)

To be fair to MS they have never, to my knowledge, banned anyone who runs a modded xbox OFFLINE but connects it online to xbox live only as a "pure" xbox.

By this I refer to switchable mod chips. As long as you NEVER connected to live with it on they didn't ban you, even though it would have been simple to put a random check into every new game to send the "I hacked my box" packet next time they connect.

Re:I seriously doubt (4, Informative)

Saffaya (702234) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776227)

You have to keep up with times though, we are in the X360 era.
If you want use your X360 for something else than M$ approved software, you cannot use Xbox Live.
It is due to the regular and remote bios modifications done by Xbox live to your console so it is up to date for countering any software exploitation.

The convenience of using XBMC or emulators, then switching off the modchip to play on xbox live are a thing of the past as far as the X360 is concerned. A real pity.

Re:I seriously doubt (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23776061)

Except if their black, female or homosexual ofcourse.

Re:I seriously doubt (1)

Macthorpe (960048) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776609)

Well, of course it won't. They said it's illegal, not that it's so incredibly legal that Microsoft have to bend over and take it up the arse from everyone who breaks their warranty by installing one.

Re:I seriously doubt (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#23777519)

I seriously doubt that I care. I didn't buy it for xbox live, I bought it for XBMC and emulators.

MrModChips (4, Informative)

niceone (992278) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775849)

I couldn't find anything on a news site I trust yet, but from the defendants front page [mrmodchips.co.uk] it looks like they are happy! Not that I don't trust slashdot or anything, but a little confirmation is nice...

Re:MrModChips (1)

Alsee (515537) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775929)

It's great to see that victory logo on MrModchip's front page [mrmodchips.co.uk], but what the heck is that timer countdown about? If I have my time zones right, it runs out at midnight their local time, a week from now.

-

Re:MrModChips (1)

Xanius (955737) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776101)

My guess would be how long it will be until he's back up and running.
Or possibly how long he expects it to take for another lawsuit to hit him over the same thing.

Wider relevance (3, Insightful)

damburger (981828) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775869)

Does this establish that the whole idea of it being a crime to provide a service that allows others to circumvent copyright is going to fall apart?

i.e. will they still be shutting down sites like tv-links.co.uk which was only linking to copyright infringing material, not providing it?

Chips Legal but... (1)

Metorical (1241524) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775897)

So modifying hardware that you own is legal.

It is probably still illegal to modify it to do something illegal. I suspect if I modify my car to fire rockets that even though I may never do it I would probably fall foul of the police.

I guess dual purpose (back-ups/pirate copies) gets around this though?

Re:Chips Legal but... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775967)

Funny enough, if the launch facility for rockets alone does not pose a significant threat to traffic or make your car a safety risk (e.g. in an accident), I could see it as perfectly legal. It's legal (in most states) to have a gun mount on the back of your pickup. At least as long as there is no .50 mounted on top of it.

The interesting part is that there is no other place other than the internet where making a crime possible carries such insane punishments. We do a lot of things every day that could be constructed as "faciliating a crime".

Re:Chips Legal but... (4, Informative)

FinchWorld (845331) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775977)

Generally the modchip itself is not illegal (Well, me being in UK), but often to play copied games they use a modified version of the original bios/software/whatever which is the illegal part. As far as xbox modchips go I saw a general trend for them to be sold with the cromwell bios, which contained no proprietary code, and allowed various linux distributions to be used, but would not allow for the running of copied games (or even genuine if memory serves correctly). They also came with a simple way to reflash the chip and often instructions on how to obtain these other bioses from various sources.

Re:Chips Legal but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23776049)

I agree with you about modding but do people really 'backup' games and dvds?? Whenever i read people talking about 'backup' i assume most people mean illegal copies...

Re:Chips Legal but... (2, Insightful)

Tuoqui (1091447) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776111)

Just wait until you get a 3 year old stepping on your video game/dvd case then you'll see why you need 'backup' copies...

Unless of course the companies are willing to furnish a brand new copy for a damaged or destroyed old copy rather than milk the customer for another $20 for a DVD or $60 for a game.

It's a bit more complex than that (2, Interesting)

Kupfernigk (1190345) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776641)

You wouldn't be modifying your car, you would be adding something that is possibly illegal. It would be the possession of the rocket launcher that is the problem, not the bolting of it to the car.

Copyright is different. A photocopier, a camera, a computer and in fact a brain,hand and piece of paper are all that are needed to violate copyright. These are all long established to be legal pieces of equipment. The same applies to contract law. If it was illegal to possess a piece of equipment that facilitated allowing you to break a contract, we would have to get rid of our brains as well as our computers.

You can get through your entire life without ever needing access to a rocket launcher or a gun, (My grandfather, a Methodist, was in a reserved occupation during WW1 and lived to 90 without ever so much as holding a shotgun), but it is now extremely difficult to get through life in a modern society without ever using a photocopier, camera, or a computer. Since a computer can be used to violate copyright or break a contract out of the box, it is hard to see how modifying it to change slightly the ways in which you could potentially do so would be illegal.

Max (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23775905)

Well, if you look at it, the only thing modding does is well, modifying hardware you personally own which noone can say is wrong in any way. It is as if it was illegal to change the fuel-injection system in your car so it would be able to run on a different fuel (well maybe slightly illegal fuel). Now this case is not related to software copyright in any way and to sentence this man for copyright infraction (is it the right word?) is laughable.

And i don't say this to upset anyone, it's my personal opinion.

Of course, laws might change. (2, Interesting)

w4rl5ck (531459) | more than 5 years ago | (#23775993)

... or WILL, when it comes to all this "copyright stuff".

The EU is just preparing more and more ridiculous legislation. Prepare for impact :(

GNU/Linux on hardware *you* *bought*! (4, Interesting)

GNUPublicLicense (1242094) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776009)

It's overboard to dissalow GNU/Linux to fully use the hardware you bought by default. Mod chips are here to insure proper balance. Actually, I think explicit locking of hardware with an OS is illegal in many countries. Maybe mod chips are part of their business model: they say mod chips are bad, but behind the scene if you look carefully, they actually sell them! Because at the end, that makes people spending more money on their hardware...

Re:GNU/Linux on hardware *you* *bought*! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23776539)

Because at the end, that makes people spending more money on their hardware...

that would be true is selling hardware gives profits.
only nintendo sells the console with profit. Both Xbox360 and PS3 ara money sinks. The companies earn profits by selling games, what modchips prevent.

EULA ? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23776115)

Isn't it some kind of EULA infringement rather than a copyright one ?

Re:EULA ? (2, Insightful)

Devin Jeanpierre (1243322) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776241)

From what I've heard, EULA's aren't very proven in court (in the US specifically, but also elsewhere). While it may be more applicable, it could be very dangerous-- if EULAs were held to simply be invalid, then a lot more than mod chip litigation is screwed over. Copyright is more proven, and indeed, cases like this are more likely to be won, or can be lost without as much devastation (copyright in its entirety will not be thrown out over such a case). It actually was won, of course, so the logic for copyright did have some foundation (even if not as much as using the EULA and contract law)-- just not enough for the next-higher level.

Re:EULA ? (1)

Sique (173459) | more than 5 years ago | (#23776345)

EULAs are routinely invalid at least in German, because with buying something the only contract you have is the one with the seller. The EULA thus ist a contract with a party that was not part of the sale and thus not enforceable. The German term is "Erschoepfungsgrundsatz", and means about the same as the First Sale Doctrine.

It is different if the EULA is already part of the AGB (Allgemeine Geschaeftsbedingungen, General Business Conditions) of the seller. But then the seller has to prove that the EULA was known at the time of the sale to be valid. It is different with downloads, because there you deal directly with the manufacturer of the software or hardware in question. Those EULAs might actually be valid contracts.

Don't worry, soon have that overturned! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#23776381)

The government here will simply say it's encouraging terrorism, with terrorists using hookey consoles to plan training sessions, have the chips banned! The wonderful state will make sure the nasty phantom, non-existent terrorists don't hurt us or invade our nightmares.

Don't abuse labels (3, Insightful)

ccguy (1116865) | more than 5 years ago | (#23777063)

Who's the idiot that labels everything 'suddenoutbreakofcommonsense'?

Maybe it was funny a year ago (to him at least), but come on...stop abusing labels, they aren't that useful to begin with, don't make it even worse!

A free country unlike the USA (1)

Orion Blastar (457579) | more than 5 years ago | (#23777277)

when you buy something, you own it and can modify it or pay to have it modified. Unlike in the USA where if you buy something the company that made it owns it and takes away your freedom to modify it or have it modified.
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