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California Student Arrested For Console Hacking

Soulskill posted more than 5 years ago | from the enjoy-your-stay-at-pelican-bay dept.

Hardware Hacking 1016

jhoger writes "Matthew Crippen was arrested yesterday for hacking game consoles (for profit) in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. He was released on a $5,000 bond, but faces up to 10 years in prison. This is terribly disturbing to me; a man could lose 10 years of his freedom for providing the service of altering hardware. He could well lose much of his freedom for providing a modicum of it to others. There is no piracy going on, necessarily — the games a modified console could run may simply not be signed by the vendor. It's much like jailbreaking an iPhone. But it seems because he is disabling a 'circumvention device' it is a criminal issue. Guess it's time to kick a few dollars over to the EFF."

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The cops that arrested him must be proud (2, Insightful)

BigHungryJoe (737554) | more than 5 years ago | (#28940995)

oh right, they're just "doing their job"

Re:The cops that arrested him must be proud (3, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941203)

They probably are proud, since the particular cops in this case - "U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents"- are doing their job.

If you have some snide comments to make, they would be better directed at the elected officials that created their posts, not the grunts on the ground.

Re:The cops that arrested him must be proud (2, Insightful)

emkyooess (1551693) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941239)

No one accepted these arguments of "just doing my job" in the Nuremberg trials -- why should we now? (Sorry, Godwin.)

Re:The cops that arrested him must be proud (1, Insightful)

thisnamestoolong (1584383) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941293)

Yes, they are doing their job. This doesn't exempt them from responsibility for unjust actions, though, anymore than the fact that they were the ones on the ground would exempt those who passed the laws. This is called the Nuremberg defense, and it is increasingly common now as peoples' roles in society become increasingly narrow and more specialized (ie, I just build the bombs, its not my responsibility what happens after that). "Just following orders" or "just doing my job" are not usable defenses. In certain cases they could bring about slight mitigation to the crimes, but certainly not exemption from personal responsibilities.

Re:The cops that arrested him must be proud (1)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941315)

If you have some snide comments to make, they would be better directed at the elected officials that created their posts, not the grunts on the ground.

What if they threw a war on drugs/copying/circumvention/etc, and no one came?

Re:The cops that arrested him must be proud (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941497)

The grunts on the ground still have a conscience. They are not excused from using it. If they honestly think this is right, their conscience is as defective as any common thug. They deserve a thousand times the scorn they will get.

Throw away the key !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941011)

Do it now or do it later, but do it !!

Misread (4, Funny)

dontPanik (1296779) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941015)

I misread this as "California Student Arrested for Console Hating."

I imagined a college student having an impassioned argument with a police officer on whether the ps3 or the xbox 360 is better. The student goes too far and insults Halo and he's lead away in handcuffs.

Re:Misread (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941229)

That only happens if you're a black professor, white guys can hate on halo all they want...

Apphrended by ICE (3, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941031)

The DHS wants you to think of them like this: http://www.dhs.gov/index.shtm [dhs.gov]

But this is what they really are: http://www.ice.gov/ [ice.gov]

No quarter to tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Duh, ICE is a Dept Within DHS (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941129)

The DHS wants you to think of them like this: http://www.dhs.gov/index.shtm [dhs.gov]

But this is what they really are: http://www.ice.gov/ [ice.gov]

No quarter to tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

Well, from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is a federal law enforcement agency under the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) ...

Of course ICE is a agency under DHS ... I don't understand what your point is. So they have a division that deals in customs and immigration. Can you just shut up? There's no need to post on every goddamn story.

Apphrended by DHS (5, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941199)

I'm sure glad that the Homeland is secure from this miscreant.

Re:Apphrended by DHS (2, Insightful)

tuxgeek (872962) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941361)

They're also monitoring this forum, soon they will be at your door as well
Hold on ... gotta go, someone is pounding at my

Re:Duh, ICE is a Dept Within DHS (5, Funny)

rliden (1473185) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941455)

What? How about taking your own advice Anonymous Coward. I see you post on every feckin story I read. You always take this tough guy stance and say exactly what you mean without fear of karma or being modded to oblivion. I wish you would just shut the fuck up and quit posting in every article I read..

Justice (5, Insightful)

Kamokazi (1080091) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941033)

And hundreds, if not thousands, of violent crime offenders go without jail time every week. I love a functining legal system.

Re:Justice (5, Funny)

Rob the Bold (788862) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941359)

And hundreds, if not thousands, of violent crime offenders go without jail time every week. I love a functining legal system.

But isn't violating a "business model" a seriouser threat to our homeland security?

Re:Justice (1)

vintagepc (1388833) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941477)

Exactly- The faster the big guys are back on the street, the faster they get caught again, so the lawyers can make more money! Small fish can't afford much in legal fees, so there's no sense in letting them out...

Re:Justice (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941409)

This is how law enforcement works: Go after the low hanging fruit, generate press about it, and people think you're doing a great job. Solving major crimes is HARD. Much easier to just round up some petty criminals like pot smokers and "console hackers". That way, you can say you put away so many thousands of criminals this year, and everyone will want to give you a big fat raise and a pat on the back for being "tough on crime". Meanwhile, the really dangerous criminals get to go about their business, and you don't have to worry about doing any actual police work.

Re:Justice (5, Interesting)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941485)

If you haven't realized it already the Legal system is functioning the way it is intended.

Plato states quite clearly that there is no true justice, but the appearance of it is what matters in society. The lower classes of society must believe there is justice else the upper classes may lose their power.

Don't worry however, the DHS has plenty of training manuals stating that people who question the government are possible domestic extremists. There will be a few agents on their way to send you to a re-education camp.

Not-for-profit (1)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941035)

This is most likely a student helping his friends, not a commercial profit-driven entity. I would hope penalties would be minimal. This case is one that will be diverted short of a conviction upon a submission to sufficient facts-- then continued for dismissal at a later date. At least this is likely what would happen in my state (MA).

Re:Not-for-profit (4, Insightful)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941139)

This is most likely a student helping his friends

Uh huh. Let's not bother to read the article, shall we?

The charges against Crippen stem from an ICE investigation initiated late last year [...] agents executed a federal search warrant at Crippen's home, where they seized more than a dozen Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony video game consoles.

Look, the sentence this guy is facing is ridiculous and the law needs changing, but we don't have to pretend that he's just some nerd modding a console or two for his homies.

Re:Not-for-profit (1)

PotatoFarmer (1250696) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941149)

According to TFA, when his home was searched they came up with "more than a dozen Microsoft, Nintendo and Sony video game consoles." While that could be a student helping (a whole lot of) his friends, it sounds slightly more commercial to me.

Regardless, a potential 10 year sentence for this sort of thing is ridiculous.

Re:Not-for-profit (1)

SkankinMonkey (528381) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941155)

According to the article there were 'dozens' of hacked consoles found. It seems very likely that he was running a modding service.

Re:Not-for-profit (1)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941349)

and I ran a rather dedicated repair/modding service as well:
xbx.networkboy.net [slashdot.org]
fact of the matter was that in order to repair some of these consoles you had to mod them.
in addition I never placed hacked code on the machine (I would use the cromwell BIOS, which had *no* ms code).
suppose it's time to take down that site before I get arrested for it.

Scary (5, Insightful)

Kell Bengal (711123) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941049)

It's terrifying to me (and a sign of the times) that we can't do what we please with the material we've paid for. Sure, violating copyright is counter productive in the long-run, which is why we have it, but tinkering with stuff has a long proud history. Imagine if the guy who invented pneumatic tyres was taken to court because it violated the bicycle company's right to sell him replacement solid rubber rims? I doubt this guy was doing anything innovating, but he sure won't be doing so now.

Re:Scary (3, Insightful)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941107)

The only reason to mod a console for MOST people, not the nerds on /., is to play pirated games. The summary and your post are both misleading and naive.

Re:Scary (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941209)

The only reason most people own guns is to kill stuff. Only the naive would have you think that it was for deterrent purposes.

Therefore since guns are mostly used for anti-social, anti-economic development purposes we should criminalize the making, possession, use or sale of guns!

Or maybe there's another interpretation somewhere....

Re:Scary (3, Interesting)

Hubbell (850646) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941227)

The fact that guns are used to kill stuff IS the deterrent. Talk about a failure of an analogy.

Re:Scary (5, Insightful)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941501)

Once I buy the device, it's mine, and I should be able to do whatever I want with it. If I, say, decide to make a bomb with it and blow something up, you can prosecute me for blowing something up, and for possessing explosive materials, but not for the act of fiddling with the device. Saying most people who do X do so because of Y doesn't mean that doing X should be illegal. People who buy bongs or make pipes out of random household materials do so in order to smoke weed, but buying bongs or fashioning pipes out of weird shit is not illegal. Playing pirated games on any device is and should be illegal. Modifying the device in a way that makes it possible to play pirated games should NOT be illegal.

Re:Scary (5, Insightful)

purpledinoz (573045) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941371)

Why can't everyone see that the legal system is slowly being steered to work against the people, to benefit corporate interests? Why isn't it a crime for executives at AIG and other bailed out banks to receive huge bonuses at the expense of tax payers? Why is it a crime for some college kid to hack some game consoles? We're talking about billions vs hundreds of dollars.

Re:Scary (-1, Flamebait)

mattOzan (165392) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941425)

It's terrifying to me (and a sign of the times) that we can't do what we please with the material we've paid for.

You aren't buying material. You are paying for a license to use the material in a certain way.

If you are looking for a place to take the pitchfork and torch mob, it really ought to be the console manufacturers. And if you think their business model is awful, your primary avenue of activism is to not buy their product.

jailbreaking an iphone? (2, Insightful)

mcfatboy93 (1363705) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941053)

more like he was jailbreaking an Iphone for idiots who don't know how to do it but they just want it done. so they pay this guy to do it for them.

US of A (5, Insightful)

Krneki (1192201) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941059)

The land of the free. On less Trollish note, it's time you do something about this corporation laws, I can't understand how the freedom of a business comes before the freedom of the people.

Re:US of A (4, Interesting)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941235)

I can't understand how the freedom of a business comes before the freedom of the people.

There is a quote attributed (perhaps erroneously) to Mussolini, but he is alleged to have said "Socialism should more properly be called corporatism, because it combines the power of the business sector with the power of the state".

I do believe America is suffering now under a kind of corporatism. The term seems more accurate than capitalism. At least since we are also a democracy there may be hope.

correcting an error in my post - apologies (3, Informative)

TechForensics (944258) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941339)

I can't understand how the freedom of a business comes before the freedom of the people.

There is a quote attributed (perhaps erroneously) to Mussolini, but he is alleged to have said "FASCISM should more properly be called corporatism, because it combines the power of the business sector with the power of the state".

I do believe America is suffering now under a kind of corporatism. The term seems more accurate than capitalism. At least since we are also a democracy there may be hope.

Organized crime (5, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941065)

This is behavior you'd expect from the Mafia. It just underscores the fact that there's not much difference between our government and an organized crime syndicate.

Hooray (0, Troll)

Rydia (556444) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941069)

Thanks for the mini-editorial and half-baked legal theorizing in the summary. I look forward to the scintillating and insightful conversation this invitation to discuss will bring!

(Especially the OMG MAH FREEDOMS replies sure to follow this comment, despite the fact I took neither 'side.')

Re:Hooray (1)

Vernes (720223) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941137)

How should one respond to this then?

Re:Hooray (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941373)

How should one respond to this then?

+1 Insightful

Re:Hooray (0, Troll)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941427)

How should one respond to this then?

Why, as the periodic astroturfing-for-donations that the EFF does on Slashdot, of course!

Re:Hooray (1)

Gizzmonic (412910) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941403)

Yeah, I hate it when people talk about things outside their area of expertise. In fact, what the hell are you doing on Slashdot. Shouldn't you be summoning Bahamut or something?

I wonder where these numbers came from? (5, Insightful)

nizo (81281) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941071)

Industry and trade associations estimate that counterfeiting and piracy now cost the U.S. economy as much as $250 billion a year and a total of 750,000 American jobs.

I mean, aside from being pulled out of thin air that is?

Re:I wonder where these numbers came from? (4, Interesting)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941223)

Funnily enough 750,000 seems to be the go-to figure for jobs [google.co.uk] , either created or lost. I read "Risk" by Martin Gardener recently and I've found it's great for noticing when people use their memory of other numbers to cue-up made-up stats like these. (That will also take you to some debunkings of those numbers.)

Re:I wonder where these numbers came from? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Cowar (1608865) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941331)

i'm looking into buying the book, is it risk by dan gardner?

page here [amazon.com]

Re:I wonder where these numbers came from? (1)

rainmaestro (996549) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941319)

I mean, aside from being pulled out of thin air that is?

I can think of another place these numbers were pulled out of.........

Re:I wonder where these numbers came from? (1)

Vernes (720223) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941399)

{{Citation needed}}

They force you to lease software (5, Insightful)

Vovk (1350125) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941075)

And Now they expect you to only lease hardware as well?

If he owns an xbox he should be able to do whatever he damn well pleases to the xbox, it is the same as any other computer. It's fair for the company (microsoft/sony/nintendo) to make it so that their games will not work on a hacked system, they shouldn't have to guarantee the games will work unless you use their specifications, but it's not fair to take him to jail even if the modifications allow him to use unsigned software. hell, I build computers that have the capability to play pirated games all the time. How is this different?

PS: in before RTFA, he's modifying consoles for financial gain, how is this different from building a computer for financial gain?

Re:They force you to lease software (1)

schnikies79 (788746) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941123)

Re: "how is this different from building a computer for financial gain?"

It's not illegal to build computers for financial gain or otherwise.

Re:They force you to lease software (2, Insightful)

Vovk (1350125) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941185)

that's my point. It shouldn't be illegal to mod an xbox, it's just a computer which has been built with the hardware and software required to run xbox games. It should be treated just like any other computer

Re:They force you to lease software (5, Insightful)

tonyreadsnews (1134939) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941395)

Why is it illegal, though?
Car Analogy:
You can legally mod cars (for financial gain even) to exceed speed limits to the extreme.

Simply ridiculous! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941097)

Simply ridiculous! When will this end?

Back before it was even called the DMCA (5, Informative)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941101)

I remember back when the WIPO copyright treaty [wikipedia.org] that would lead to the DMCA was being quietly passed by member nations. Only a few of us were even talking about it at the time. But the implications were pretty clear to me even then. Making it illegal to even CIRCUMVENT copy protection measures would inevitably lead to people being prosecuted for even the most innocuous and widely accepted activities (at that time, it was mostly stuff like bypassing Macrovision, copying videotapes, copying CD's, and taping stuff on cable). It was quietly outlawing activities most people considered sacrosanct, and we let it happen. The U.S. signed onto the treaty, the Congress passed to DMCA to implement it, and everyone just sort of ignored it--figuring that the local guy in the neighborhood who copied a CD or VHS for you would never be effected. But it was always only a matter of time before they got down to enforcing it in at the local level. It may have started with the big pirate operations, but it was bound to come down to local modders too. It was only a matter of time.

What's the issue here? (0)

Shivani1141 (996696) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941103)

I agree that it's not a guarantee that every system was used to run pirated copies of games. I have friends who have an old hacked xbox and all it does is run XBMC. but in all likelihood they were stealing software. this man knew what he was doing and for the majority of his customers that was providing a means to steal console games. he may not have provided the isos, but his work is the critical step in enabling piracy on a console. this is far less of a moral grey area than downloading is.

Re:What's the issue here? (2, Insightful)

p1r4t3 (1139441) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941365)

That would be similar to someone putting performance parts on their car and a cop pulling up and arresting them for street racing on the basis that they would be using said modifications to do so. No crime has been committed unless it has become illegal to modify purchased devices and hardware. I know they say he was circumventing parts of the hardware that protect copyrights of games against piracy but I do not see how that is against the law unless it is proven without a doubt that he did so with piracy in mind.

Re:What's the issue here? (2, Informative)

Jellybob (597204) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941375)

this is far less of a moral grey area than downloading is.

No, you've got that backwards.

Downloading a game ISO has only one purpose. The playing of that game, without paying for it.

Modding an Xbox, as you say yourself, allows you to run XBMC on it. A legitimate use of the hardware, which harms nobody.

Re:What's the issue here? (1)

funkatron (912521) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941417)

in all likelihood they were stealing software.

Ignoring the choice of words, why are these people not looking at 10 years?

this is far less of a moral grey area than downloading is.

Correct. The idea that people can use (and modify) hardware that they own in any way they like (short of harming others) is not a moral grey area.

Re:What's the issue here? (3, Informative)

networkBoy (774728) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941443)

this is far less of a moral grey area than downloading is.

I think you have that backwards.
downloading (as implied in your post) is specifically to avoid paying for content.
Modding an Xbox can lead to playing homebrew games, apps, and other very cool stuff that has little to nothing to do with piracy. Hell I modded countless Xbox 1's to run linux.

the poll on the nbc site ... (3, Informative)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941115)

on the right hand side of the article [nbcdfw.com] , did anybody notice the poll that allows you to rate the story?

your options are ... "We are ..." a.) Laughing b.) Furious c.) Bored d.) Sad e.) Thrilled f.) Intrigued

I voted Furious ... cause the charges are kinda ridiculuous ... and I'd be pissed if it happened to me.

But the current scores are ... Laughing 50%, Furious 33%, Bored 17%, Sad/Thrilled/Intrigued 0%

Re:the poll on the nbc site ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941301)

Slashdot.... vote! My vote alone changed the percentages 3%.

Re:the poll on the nbc site ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941327)

Is there a poll about that poll I could vote "Sad" in?

Re:the poll on the nbc site ... (1)

gandhi_2 (1108023) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941369)

Thanks to the slashdot crowd, it's 64% furious as i type this.

Re:the poll on the nbc site ... (1)

babywhiz (781786) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941463)

Kudos to /. crowd. It was 48% laughing 10% furious.. when I first RTFA...now it's 79% furious 8% laughing.

Re:the poll on the nbc site ... (4, Funny)

Aim Here (765712) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941407)

From the percentages you post, I deduce there had been exactly 6 votes posted, so we now know there are at least 3 assholes on the internet.

modification of hardware.. hmmm (2, Interesting)

stillpixel (1575443) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941119)

Time to go out and arrest all those people who modify their cars with after market equipment.. and the makers of the after market equipment.. and the publications that advertise and showcase that after market equipment. I'm sorry, but once the hardware is purchased it should not matter if I play games on it, install linux or turn it into a f**king planter. If I want to see the hardware after modifying it then that should be my right, it is my property why can't I? Because it circumvents some DRM??? If I tweak a car until it can do 180mph and then sell it is that illegal? It can break the speed limit... oh wait.. most cars can..hmm WTF? We can manufacture cars capable of breaking the law but can't modify a game console that may or maynot then be used to break the law? I'm sorry, if you need restrictive technology (DRM) just to make your business model profitable then you need to change your business model. I don't think we need laws to prop up that business model either.

Re:modification of hardware.. hmmm (1)

stillpixel (1575443) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941217)

what is with the -1?

Re:modification of hardware.. hmmm (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941397)

Your post entitled "first post.." in the thread "Korean DDoS Bots To Self-Destruct" received a final score of 3, Funny. HOWEVER, it also received some troll mods and an insightful mod. Because "Funny" ratings do NOT affect your karma, and the troll mods outnumbered the insightful mod, the net outcome of that post was to lower your karma. Because you were dead neutral before that post, the "first post.." one pushed you over the edge, and into negative territory.

Now, all of your posts will start off as -1... until you get modded positively, that is.

Devil's Advocate (3, Insightful)

whisper_jeff (680366) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941127)

Ok, I'm going to say something that I'm certain will be enormously unpopular here - what he was doing is a crime and he almost certainly knew it was. Sorry. He got caught breaking the law.

Now, should it be a crime? Should it be a crime with a possible 10 year penalty? Should law enforcement resources be wasted on inane garbage like this while there are real, serious criminals out there that are still walking free? I think the answers to all those questions are obvious (at least I hope they are...) but the reality is what he was doing is a crime and thus he broke the law. I would hope people will be sufficiently bothered by this situation (and the ten year sentence for something so insignificant while people who commit violent crimes get much less time...) that they will be motivated to write their government and demand a change. If enough people raise their voice, maybe, just maybe, the government will pay attention. As it is, the only voice they hear are those of lobbyist for major media companies who want laws like this on the books. They got their way and now this guy is (presumably) guilty of something that shouldn't be a crime, but currently is...

Re:Devil's Advocate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941329)

Cracking/modding a console to enable home brew software should not be a crime.
Cracking/modding a console to enable the use of ISO images/CDR/DVDR copies of legitimate software should most definitely be and is a crime.

The problem here is the lack of distinction the law posses between the two. Judging from the article this man is complicit in many copyright violations, as well as DMCA issues (which are total crap, really. I agree these need to go). instead of charging this man for freeing the hardware, find evidence of (if it exists) his modifications being used to run illegal copies of software, prove his cooperation in this, and charge him on that basis.

Re:Devil's Advocate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941353)

they will be motivated to write their government and demand a change

That doesn't work. See the current economic/political disaster in progress in the US, despite all of your nicely written letters, as evidence. Personally, I'm just waiting for the rest of the country to wake up and take notice of the fact our government has been replaced by tyrants, and to swiftly rise up against our oppressors in a bloodthirsty vengeful unstoppable blitz to regain what these assholes have taken from us and what our great Constitution granted us at birth.

The sad part is that in times like these, I'm scared to not post these thoughts anonymously :(

Re:Devil's Advocate (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941421)

Yes, he broke the law and got caught. What's your point? That we shouldn't be outraged? I'm not surprised this happened, but it's still outrageous. Every person involved in the investigation and prosecution of this act, and the passing of the legislation that criminalized it, is complicit in evil. They are far more dangerous than the "criminals" they claim to protect us against.

What is to be done? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941145)

Unfortunately, with more cases like this erupting lately (insane punishment over inane actions) there are no legal routes to take.
This man should escape from his detainment and go into hiding.

The hyperbole is staggering... (2)

cptdondo (59460) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941153)

[quote]âoePiracy, counterfeiting and other intellectual property rights violations not only cost U.S. businesses jobs and billions of dollars a year in lost revenue, they can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers,â[/quote] Right. A kid in his basement modifies a Wii and this poses "a significant health and safety risk"??? WTF? Piracy like this is mostly a victimless crime. It's a crime created artificially by a corporate culture. Crimes are supposed to be something that hurts real people directly. Piracy doesn't do that.

Re:The hyperbole is staggering... (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941439)

It's not a victimless crime if the point of modding is enabling people to play pirated games. The game companies then are still victims. How damaging it is to the victims is not agreed on.

As far as health and safety, that's certainly hyperbole. Technically, though, a modified console could potentially expose the user to the system's laser and could potentially present an increased fire hazard (due to faulty wiring, soldering, etc. -- not the laser).

H&SW (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941159)

"they [Piracy, counterfeiting and other intellectual property rights violations] can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers"
Robert Schoch, ICE/DHS (from the article/link)

health and safety risk!?

wait, what - piracy/counterfeiting poses a health/safety risk because the ps3 game they buy is safe for them? then whats with all the warnings?
nintendo has warnings, playstation has warnings, xbox has warnings. not to mention the ratings for games being "safe" (laughs) for certain age ranges/restrictions.

what about the RF radiation from electronics?
the RF radiation from most consoles these days (wifi, bluetooth controllers, etc)?

Worse than manslaughter? (2)

b1nary atr0phy (1611039) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941169)

It's a sad sad day when you can get more time in prison for manipulating electronic hardware than for say vehicular manslaughter...

Once again the media completely misses the point (5, Insightful)

sqrt(2) (786011) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941177)

From the article

Counterfeiting and piracy have grown in recent years in both magnitude and complexity, according to ICE.

That's nice. Now how is that connected to the "crime" of modding a console? How is what he did connected to piracy other than the strained connection that modding consoles inevitably leads to piracy which he should be held responsible for? Even if you buy that, how is any of it inolved with "counterfeiting"? No one is stamping out illegal copies of games to be sold as the real thing here. Wrong issue entirely.

Some estimates indicate that 5 percent to 8 percent of all the goods and merchandise sold worldwide are counterfeit.

Again, a completely irrelevant fact mentioned only for the purpose of trying to connect his "crime" to a larger and more obviously illegal sounding one.

I wish mainstream news outlets would hire people to do research and write informed articles, because the alternative seems to be just parroting whatever the alphabet soup of government agencies tells them about the issue. Though, I guess now I know to watch out for those counterfeit modded game consoles.

Health and Safety issue??? (3, Insightful)

MadCow42 (243108) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941189)

>> âoePiracy, counterfeiting and other intellectual property rights violations not only cost U.S. businesses jobs and billions of dollars a year in lost revenue, they can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers,â he said.

Health and Safety risks? Give me a f*&%ing break... at least with regards to Intellectual Property. Sure, counterfeit aircraft replacement parts pose a real safety problem (and it's a real problem... go after that one, guys!), but copying videogames?

If the guy was overtly doing this to enable the use of pirated games, then sure, he's guilty. But if the majority of his work is to enable homebrew or emulation software, they should set him free and give him a pat on the back. I lose all sympathy for the copyright holders when they try to use FUD about "Health and Safety" to prop up their failing business model.

MadCow.

Not that disturbing (1, Insightful)

Absolut187 (816431) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941197)

Would you be "disturbed" if someone went to jail for modifying odometers on automobiles?

Both are examples of modifiying hardware in an effort to cheat someone, and both are against the law.

You don't want to go to jail? Don't break criminal laws.
And especially don't make a full-time business out of breaking the law..

The 10 years is simply the maximum sentence.
If he has no prior convictions, he will likely be sentenced to something substantially less.

Re:Not that disturbing (2, Informative)

Maximum Prophet (716608) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941383)

Googling "Odometer Jail" returned this story.

Aug. 21--A former Spokane Valley car dealer, who now sells used cars in Post Falls, avoided a likely prison term and a substantial fine by helping investigators unravel an international odometer rollback case. Instead of low-mileage bargains, more than 135 buyers were stuck with high-mileage Canadian imports with altered mileage gauges. For his part in the conspiracy, Richard "Rick" Shafer got no prison time Thursday, but must complete six months of home detention when he's not at work and repay a Spokane credit union $172,792.

There's another where a dealer got 10 months.

Anyway, last time I sold a car (In Indiana), when you sold the car there was a checkmark on the form where you could say that the odometer was not correct. (I knew it wasn't because it rolled around past 00000) Modifying your own odometer was perfectly legal, as was paying someone to do it, as long as you didn't sell the car as having that mileage.

Modifying game consoles isn't fraud, unless you don't tell a future buyer that it's been modded.
They say it's a circumvention device, but like the Sony Betamax case, if he can show that there are significant, non-infringing uses of a modded console, he could win. (If he has the resources to fight)

Re:Not that disturbing (1)

Zedrick (764028) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941451)

"Would you be 'disturbed' if someone went to jail for modifying odometers on automobiles?"

I would be even more disturbed if someone went to jail for putting in new car stereos (that enables the owner to use USB-sticks instead of just CDs) in automobiles, which is a better analogy.

Who gets cheated? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941459)

Both are examples of modifiying hardware in an effort to cheat someone, and both are against the law.

The article gives no evidence of what kind of "pirated games" the accused was dealing in. If I develop a game for my Wii console, and I mod my friends' Wii consoles to play it, who gets cheated? Certainly not Nintendo, who wouldn't sell me a devkit anyway because students and hobbyists don't qualify [warioworld.com] .

You don't want to go to jail? Don't break criminal laws.
And especially don't make a full-time business out of breaking the law..

It was once a crime to possess alcoholic beverages.

Pirated PS3 games gave me swine flu (2, Informative)

Fierythrasher (777913) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941205)

Did anyone read the article? I quote Piracy, counterfeiting and other intellectual property rights violations not only cost U.S. businesses jobs and billions of dollars a year in lost revenue, they can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers

Um...exactly how does a pirated PS3 game create a health or safety risk?

Re:Pirated PS3 games gave me swine flu (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941297)

Counterfeit pills are probably being lumped in (because the guy working for the agency is a PR guy who wants to talk about ALL the good that the agency does, not just the good they do enforcing the DMCA).

Re:Pirated PS3 games gave me swine flu (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941355)

Did anyone read the article? I quote
Piracy, counterfeiting and other intellectual property rights violations not only cost U.S. businesses jobs and billions of dollars a year in lost revenue, they can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers

Um...exactly how does a pirated PS3 game create a health or safety risk?

Counterfeit Pharmaceuticals i would think.

Troubling (5, Insightful)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941207)

Joe Public will read this story and think "so what, some kid who helped destroy game company profits got his comeuppance," but the technically astute on this site will notice that this law, while currently applied to a trivial domain like game consoles, will be affecting the whole computer industry for years to come. The iPhone, like most game consoles, has a mechanism to prevent unsigned code from running. It is protected by the DMCA. The Kindle from Amazon is probably protected by the DMCA.

Your legal ability to do what you want, with the hardware you own, is slowly being eroded by new hardware with DRM baked in, and lawsuits like the one in the article. The issue is about personal freedom as much as it's about piracy.

Re:Troubling (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941387)

No one has forced me to purchase an iphone yet.

I don't like that particular portion of the DMCA, but the current situation is not all that bad, and it does not appear to be eroding (Android, Palm Pre, etc., are all more open and capable than phones available 5 years ago).

Just wait. (1)

ground.zero.612 (1563557) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941221)

Wait until the US and it's socialist/communist collaborators pass the ACTA.

If you think reverse-engineering is your right as a human being; you should be buying your guns and ammo now, and start preparing to use them on our tyrannical government officials should something so fundamentally flawed be passed into law.

Imagine if Trusted Computing had taken off... (2, Insightful)

javacowboy (222023) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941241)

...then people who modified generic PCs to run "unauthorized software" would receive the same sentence.

Frightening.

Pirate Party? (2, Interesting)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941245)

I'm curious if the Pirate Party will start getting enough traction in the U.S. to matter.

Cases like this only really piss-off young, highly technical persons. But if you factor in the RIAA's and MPAA's actions over the last 5 years, it makes me wonder.

Playing pirated games will cause you do die (4, Funny)

VinylRecords (1292374) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941253)

From the article:

"Playing with games in this way is not a game -- it is criminal," said Robert Schoch, special agent in charge of the ICE investigations office in Los Angeles. "Piracy, counterfeiting and other intellectual property rights violations not only cost U.S. businesses jobs and billions of dollars a year in lost revenue, they can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers," he said.

Emphasis mine. What health risks are there? Pac Man fever?

Re:Playing pirated games will cause you do die (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941489)

I think he meant modifications could pose a safety hazard, not piracy itself. It is not outside of the realm of possibility that he might fuck it up and cause the console to overheat, short, etc (i.e. fire hazard). Not very likely, of course, but still a possibility.

How are these even related? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941255)

Piracy, counterfeiting and other intellectual property rights violations . . . can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers,â he said

Wait, what? How?

Really? (1)

Tokah (859694) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941277)

"Piracy, counterfeiting and other intellectual property rights violations not only cost U.S. businesses jobs and billions of dollars a year in lost revenue, they can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers," he said.

Really? Health and safety risks, from modchips? Perhaps they could elaborate on that one?

Health and safety risk (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941491)

I would guess that being locked up in a federal prison is a significant health and safety risk.Especially for a geek wiyhout the right connections to protect his a$$.

Punishment vs. the crime (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941411)

http://sports.yahoo.com/nfl/news?prov=ap&slug=ap-stallworth-pedestriankilled&type=lgns [yahoo.com]

It's a good thing that the punishment fits the crime. Kill someone get 24 days in prison. Hack a console, it's 10 years for you. Once again this proves that money is more important than life.

Get involved (4, Insightful)

MrKaos (858439) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941429)

I've been involved in a Civil Liberties group that reviews and lobbies legislation for appropriate changes prior to them becoming law, something quite different from the EFF. From my initial conversations organisations like this are in need of people with a technological bent to advise them on the ramifications of technology legislation before it passes into law.

It's not the first time I've done it and I've found that if you you are polite to the ministers involved they are quite responsive and will listen to what you have to say and if they see your name often enough they will ask you for advice, they asked me. It's interesting to see the changes you suggest actually either make it into law or not make it into law due to your lobbying.

Thing is, it's not a game. If you don't act then, incrementally, freedoms will be whittled away. If it's not by the lobbying of a special interest group (for example Microsoft with the Xbox) then it will be by a knee jerk reaction to something else that has happened. Once it's passed into law it's very unlikely that it will *ever* be rolled-back.

Simple Cause (1)

Tablizer (95088) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941467)

This is what happens when lobbyists have more influence over laws than voters.

Give examples please (0, Troll)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 5 years ago | (#28941473)

the games a modified console could run may simply not be signed by the vendor

Please provide a list of, preferably all, the games that are not signed by the vendor.

Brazil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28941495)

wait until he tries to fix the air conditioning. /he can haz grappling hook gun too?

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