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Mod Chippers Ordered to Pay $9 Million in Fines

Zonk posted about 8 years ago | from the sell-more-product-to-make-up-the-difference dept.

94

GameDaily is reporting that that ESA is announcing a major victory against game software piracy in California. A judge has handed down over $9 Million in fines to Divineo Inc., some employees, and international subsidiaries. From the article: "The defendants had apparently violated the DMCA by trafficking mod chips and the HDLoader software application that enables users to copy whole video games to a console's hard drive ... Mod chips then can be used to allow a console to play illegally obtained/pirated games. Both the mod chips and HDLoader application therefore circumvent the copyright protection technology built into video game consoles and video game software and are in direct violation of the DMCA."

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Reasonable doubt? (5, Insightful)

Temuar Skylari (1008449) | about 8 years ago | (#16341727)

From TFA: "Once the entire video game file is on the console's hard drive it probably isn't too difficult for a hacker to transfer it to his PC and then illegally distribute it on the web." PROBABLY? I'm no cracker, so I have no idea how easy or difficult this is, but COME ON. I seriously hope nobody got fined for theoretical damages caused by distributing a game online when the only evidence was that they had copied it to their console's HD.

Re:Reasonable doubt? (1)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 8 years ago | (#16341867)

So the defendants declare bankruptcy and the plaintiffs get what then? As for the DMCA, could this be a case of, "Thought Crime?", as in "We Think That This Might Just Happen, So We Can Now Get Rich For Nothing?" FTFA, there appears to have been no statement that there WAS 9M in damages; Maybe the penalty was a bit excessive? Maybe this could be a test case for the law at a higher level of jurist prudence?

Re:Reasonable doubt? (2, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 8 years ago | (#16341985)

So the defendants declare bankruptcy and the plaintiffs get what then?

If the company is liquidated they 1) get the company out out of business and 2) some part of the companies' assets. If the company stays in business they get paid off at some percentage depending on the restructuring.

To be honest 9 mil isn't that much to a large company. The main thing is getting these mods off the market.

Re:Reasonable doubt? (1)

tuck3r (987067) | about 8 years ago | (#16364101)

getting them off the market will never happen because they are largely sold outside the US

Re:Reasonable doubt? (1)

goodenoughnickname (874664) | about 8 years ago | (#16342631)

It would be easier to make an ISO by putting the PlayStation 2 DVD in your computer. HDLoader, I believe, makes a new partition on the HDD for each game and stores the files there. The quoted statement is more true for the Gamecube, and now I believe the Xbox360, where you need the console to play middleman and read the disc for you.

Re:Reasonable doubt? (3, Informative)

westlake (615356) | about 8 years ago | (#16344181)

Reasonable doubt?

The Geek never quite seems to grasp the basic distinctions between civil and criminal law.

Civil actions are all about the balance of probabilites, what is more likely than not. There is no burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Damages under the DMCA are assessed according to a statutory formula:

"At any time before final judgment is entered, a complaining party may elect to recover an award of statutory damages for each violation of [17 U.S.C. 1201] in the sum of not less than $200 or more than $2,500 per act of circumvention, device, product, component, offer, or performance of service, as the court considers just." Hefty award to Sony in action against seller of PlayStation 2 "mod chips" [internetcases.com]

"The amount of damages was calculated by awarding $800 per mod chip sold before June 12, 2004, and the full amount of $2,500 per mod chip sold after June 12, 2004. On that date, Filipiak had signed a stipulated injunction in which he agreed to discontinue sales of the chips and related software. The court concluded that the sales made after Filipiak signed the agreement constituted a willful violation of the DMCA, thus justifying a higher amount of statutory damages."

Re:Reasonable doubt? (1)

bit01 (644603) | about 8 years ago | (#16362677)

The Geek never quite seems to grasp the basic distinctions between civil and criminal law.

And The Lawyer never quite seems to grasp that slashdot is a large community with varying knowledge, experience, ages and opinions.

Most here are quite familiar with the distinction between civil and criminal law. And sometimes have more knowledge of law in non-US jurisdictions than you do.

Broad generalisations are usually wrong.

---

It's wrong that an intellectual property creator should not be rewarded for their work.
It's equally wrong that an IP creator should be rewarded too many times for the one piece of work, for exactly the same reasons.
Reform IP law and stop the M$/RIAA abuse.

I have a dream... (5, Insightful)

dolson (634094) | about 8 years ago | (#16341769)

I dream of a day when I won't have to get off my couch to put the legally-purchased games I own into my game console, stream video, pictures, and music from my Linux PC, check the weather, etc. all without the use of these law-breaking modchips. I guess the Wii has a lot of that covered, and probably the PS3 and 360, I don't know. But for me, I really am THAT lazy, that I don't wanna switch the discs. :) That's a benefit of using a modchip even to those who don't pirate software.

Re:I have a dream... (4, Insightful)

Some_Llama (763766) | about 8 years ago | (#16341843)

"That's a benefit of using a modchip even to those who don't pirate software."

Or have kids who regularly play on a console swapping out discs 3 or 4 times a day and manage to sratch them to the point of unreadability in a matter of weeks.

Re:I have a dream... (2, Interesting)

static0verdrive (776495) | about 8 years ago | (#16342083)

Yep. Don't forget that you get MUCH faster load times too!

I had a dream, then it was indigestion... (1)

Archfeld (6757) | about 8 years ago | (#16343937)

How is this not legal ?? if you own a copy of the disc is that not just shifting the media format, somthing that is specifically allowed under fair use ?? I have 8-tracks with music on them that I cannot listen to but I AM KEEPING as my legal basis for having the MP3's on my hard drive. IANAL but IMHO that meets the RIAA's license vs purchase argument. Buy the media ONCE in a legal format then keep current with a digital image of the same. Either you buy the song and can do what you want with it, or you buy a license to listen to it, they can't have it both ways..unless they pay Uncle Sam enough I guess :(....

Re:I had a dream, then it was indigestion... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#16346121)

You can format shift all you like, you just can't circumvent ANY copy protection in the process.

Re:I have a dream... (1)

Temuar Skylari (1008449) | about 8 years ago | (#16341865)

That's a benefit of using a modchip even to those who don't pirate software.

You know, there's something else that just occurred to me too. What about import games and the chips that let you play those? Again, I'm fairly uninformed, but IIRC that use of a modchip isn't illegal. Are people going to be getting fines for bringing Lunar: The Silver Star Story over so they could hear the Japanese lyrics? How about my friend's brother, who lived in Japan for a year or so, bought all these great semi-old RPGs for his PS2, and still wanted to finish them at home?

Re:I have a dream... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#16346129)

AFAIK import-only modifications are legal and in some jurisdictions (Australia, for example) even encouraged. Though when I went looking for a way to import-enable my PS2 I couldn't find any import-only chips.

Re:I have a dream... (1)

MarkAD88 (971843) | about 8 years ago | (#16341869)

I would have to agree with you. I think it's ridiculous that I can't simply image a game on to my console and pick it from a menu. They could accomplish this and still maintain their paranoid DRM measures simply by encrypting the image using a hash unique to the machine or something similar.

I can't even begin to count how many games I've had to rebuy over the years for my XBox simply because the DVD has gotten damaged from continuous use... a situation that would not have happened if I could simply store the image on the box. It doesn't make the game companies any more money when this happens. I simply buy the next copy used from someone on the newsgroups for the same price that they'd get on the trade-in or from one of the many local stores that sell used games.

Someday, maybe, someone at Microsoft or Sony or Nintendo or whatever company will make this a viable option on a console and when they do I'll have my wallet in hand on the day of the release.

Re:I have a dream... (1)

gknoy (899301) | about 8 years ago | (#16342005)

I can't even begin to count how many games I've had to rebuy over the years for my XBox simply because the DVD has gotten damaged from continuous use...

Someday, maybe, someone at Microsoft or Sony or Nintendo or whatever company will make this a viable option on a console and when they do I'll have my wallet in hand on the day of the release.


Since most people aren't smart enough to buy frmo newsgroups/user groups/etc, I don't think the console companies will be motivated for THAT reason. Now, the laziness factor, THAT's motivation. Maybe select the 5-10 games that are "active" or "favourites", and store those on the drive.

Re:I have a dream... (1)

shamer (897211) | about 8 years ago | (#16342233)

I can't even begin to count how many games I've had to rebuy over the years for my XBox simply because the DVD has gotten damaged from continuous use...
The more you damage, the more you buy... The more you buy, the more they proffit. I think that would be why they wouldn't allow games to be saved to HD's in the first place, let alone moding / pirating

Re:I have a dream... (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | about 8 years ago | (#16342999)

The more you damage, the more you buy... The more you buy, the more they proffit.

They don't profit if you buy used.

Re:I have a dream... (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | about 8 years ago | (#16343075)

Yes they do. Buying used pushes up demand and prices of used games. This means that the cost of buying then selling is decreased leading to an incentive for people to buy more.

Re:I have a dream... (1)

Volante3192 (953645) | about 8 years ago | (#16345415)

So, hypothetically, I buy a new copy of Crab Slaughter for the PS3. I beat it/get bored, sell it to Gamestop. Someone buys that used copy. They sell it back. Repeat. ...Doesn't Sony only get paid once during that whole thing?

Isn't that why used games are cheaper? I mean, outside of the not so fresh feeling, that there's no kickback to the studio? I'm not an economist, but it seems logical.

Re:I have a dream... (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | about 8 years ago | (#16346183)

Yes but what if you (or a subsequent owner) scratched it so badly Gamestop won't buy it?

Re:I have a dream... (1)

JohnFluxx (413620) | about 8 years ago | (#16346385)

You're not seeing the bigger pictures (tm) ;-)

Consider a game. Imagine that there are 100 people that would pay $30 for the game and a further 20 people that would pay $20 for the game.

Now the 20 people that would pay $20 for the game might consider buying it for $30 if they knew they could resell it for $10 - thus paying $20 in total. i.e. there are people who might pay full price for the goods because they expect to get some money back from resell.

Follow?

Re:I have a dream... (1)

pyrote (151588) | about 8 years ago | (#16390045)

Yes but now they have 4 total people that Love the game and now reccomend it to their friends... only one copy floating around so everyone else has to buy their own.

Re:I have a dream... (5, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | about 8 years ago | (#16341947)

It also makes it easier to run Linux. But the biggest reason that these companies are so strongly against modchips is because it allows software developers to write games for their hardware without paying a royalty to the console manufacturer. Nothing to do with piracy at all, really....

Next stop, 9th circuit, where I suspect this will be overturned swiftly as anti-consumer.

Re:I have a dream... (1)

IKnwThePiecesFt (693955) | about 8 years ago | (#16342115)

Do you have a source for this? I'm sorry, I just find it pretty hard to believe that MS et al would rather curb homebrew than piracy.

Re:I have a dream... (3, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | about 8 years ago | (#16342909)

There must be a million sources. The primary purpose for requiring special encryption and stuff on games has always been to force companies to pay a licensing fee to the console manufacturer. It's well documented. Heck, just read Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] or read about any of the many reverse engineering lawsuits related to Nintendo and other companies over the years.

Technology to crack DVDs is explicitly forbidden under the DMCA, but publishing unencrypted DVDs is quite possible (and done regularly). As seen in the Australian courts (and I think it will hold up in U.S. court if it ever gets high enough), the technologies used in video games are the exact opposite. Instead of protecting the content, they protect the devices against using unprotected content. This is a fundamentally different action by console makers, and one that cannot be justifiably protected by law. Clearly, modding games to not check to see if the game is a legit copy is a DMCA violation. Modding hardware to make it allow you to use unprotected content (which may or may not be pirated) is completely different.

Clueless Judges and Layers. (2, Insightful)

plasmacutter (901737) | about 8 years ago | (#16345763)

Until we pressure our government into requiring justices presiding over an issue to have at least a bachelor's degree in the theory behind the issue we will not see this kind of nuance considered at all.

At this point even the lawyers involved can't fully grasp what's going on enough to understand the subtle but important difference you've just outlined (unless theyre from the EFF, then they just don't know how to play the legal game correctly).

The fact that we have such important issues to consumer rights and personal freedom judged and debated by complete morons is proof positive that "god" cannot be perfectly compassionate and just.

Re:I have a dream... (1)

Have Blue (616) | about 8 years ago | (#16342533)

One reason gamers should be against modchips is that they enable cheating in online games (which wasn't an issue until this generation).

Re:I have a dream... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 8 years ago | (#16342953)

Not if the online game is written correctly. The game has a certain probability of something occurring. If the probability goes more than about a standard deviation outside those bounds, the server can reasonably conclude that something is probably wrong.

For that matter, the more decisions are made on the server, the less relevant the client is. Ideally, for multiplayer games, the client should be a rendering engine and little more. If you do it that way, no amount of client hacking can have a significant impact on game play (except maybe showing stuff a moment early, which would give a very slight competitive edge).

Re:I have a dream... (2, Informative)

grazzy (56382) | about 8 years ago | (#16343007)

On top of my head: skinhacks, wallhacks, zoomhack.

Re:I have a dream... (1)

poot_rootbeer (188613) | about 8 years ago | (#16342829)

But the biggest reason that these companies are so strongly against modchips is because it allows software developers to write games for their hardware without paying a royalty to the console manufacturer.

Bullshit. The biggest reason these companies are against modchips is because they allow users to steal commercial games instead of having to spend money on them.

Unlicensed software written for game consoles is almost entirely poor quality. Look at the "games" published by Color Dreams/Learning Tree for the NES; they SUUUCK. Even Atari's Tengen Games division never did anything better average after bypassing the NES lockout chip.

The only example of an unlicensed company making a better product than legitimate licensees in the entire history of gaming would be perhaps Activision's library for the Atari VCS. Console makers have nothing to fear from homebrewers.

Re:I have a dream... (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 8 years ago | (#16344677)

Unlicensed software written for game consoles is almost entirely poor quality.

You're not asking the right question. The question is how many of the licensed games would be licensed if it were not difficult to publish unprotected games? Probably a lot more than are published now.... With console sold often at a loss, it's not hard to see why this is an issue....

*SPIFFFFFFFFT* BAWHAHAHAAHHAAHAHA! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16343873)

Nothing to do with piracy at all, really....

OH THAT IS A GOOD ONE! Must be yet another justification & excuse "pirates" use to convince themselves that what they are doing is not wrong, and that the companies are being "unrealistic."

Re:*SPIFFFFFFFFT* BAWHAHAHAAHHAAHAHA! (1)

dgatwood (11270) | about 8 years ago | (#16344739)

I hope you're not calling me a pirate. I don't even own a game console (unless you count the Nintendo GBA SP that I won under a Dr. Pepper bottle cap and don't have any games for other than the one that came with it).... :-)

I'm firmly of the opinion that any technology that tries to prevent unsigned or unprotected code form running is evil, and that owners of hardware have a fundamental right to be able to do to it whatever they want, up to and including modding it and running arbitrary software on it. If modchips are illegal, then potentially the next things to become illegal are things like reusing electronic disposable cameras, modding your TiVo so you can log in remotely and add shows to its list of things to record, modding an inexpensive microphone instead of buying an overpriced model with only minor differences, even upgrading the RAM in your computer instead of paying the manufacturer to do it for you. If we let the illegalization of modchips stand, we're sliding further down that slippery slope... and one day, nothing we own will really be ours.

Re:*SPIFFFFFFFFT* BAWHAHAHAAHHAAHAHA! (1)

sowth (748135) | about 8 years ago | (#16351079)

So you are saying I am a "pirate" at heart because I want to run SSH and an X Terminal on a DS when I get it? It would make accessing my Linux machines easier. (anyone have some good web pages which might explain how to do this?) I'm sure I'll need a mod chip for that.

Another reason to make modchips illegal: what about manufacturers who want to make compatible consoles. Right now it is probably difficult/illegal--why else have we not seen them. Plenty of people would want to buy a machine which could play games from the Gamecube, PS1/2, Xbox and such. The machine could even run regular computer programs (after all, a game machine is just a computer, though restricted)

[1] "Pirate" really should be copyright infringer or something like, but I guess it doesn't sound extreme enough for the entertainment cartel.

Re:I have a dream... (3, Insightful)

cplusplus (782679) | about 8 years ago | (#16342101)

That, and ultra fast load times. A 7200 RPM hard drive is a LOT faster than a DVD drive. So, by modding, you end up with a console that requires no disk switching (and thus no risk of scratched media) and loads game data about 10x as fast. It was a win-win-win for my XBox :)

Yup (1)

goldcd (587052) | about 8 years ago | (#16349741)

I'm with you. The DVD load speed on the 360 is very annoying and PS3 Blu-ray transfer speed is pretty much the same (so will be just as annoying).
Putting mod chips to the side for a moment, I just wish XB/360/PS3 games would allow you to run a HD cache for them. I don't even mind putting the disk in the drive (if a better protection mechanism can't be found). I very rarely seriously play more than one game at a time, so if I could just shove it on the HD it would make everything so much nicer.
Ho-hum.

I have got another one... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16343761)

... one day, not so far away, open source will have progressed into gaming consoles and generic entertainment. Great movies will be produced by independent film makers, games by people who open source their software. Even the hardware will be open - so anyone can change anything.
The MPAA, RIAA and all equivalents from over the world still exist - they hunt down anyone who watches their content fiercefully. But their business is declining, as everyone uses the alternatives presented by the HUMAN community. Soon, there is nothing to watch anymore for the MPAA's, and the day will come that these old organisations will fade away.
Laws that once had a meaning, eg DMCA, will be useless and a testimonial of 'old' corporate thinking - where closed standards, security by obscurity and a failing content value system are the major trademarks.

Re:I have a dream... (1)

Technician (215283) | about 8 years ago | (#16353347)

But for me, I really am THAT lazy, that I don't wanna switch the discs.

But for me, I have kids. The first time a kid uses one of my $40-$60 game CD's for a carpet protector under the chair due to carelessness is the last time I buy a game I can't run from a working copy or off the hard drive with the original locked in a cabinet.

Needless to say, I haven't bought many retail games lately. We stick to games on the PC which run with a No-CD crack or install and run on the hard drive. If there is no crack, the game does not get purchased in the first place. We can't play the games locked in a cabinet and we can't leave them out to get destroyed, stolen, or lost. Retail games are are in direct competition to downloadable games which will install on a hard drive.

Next up: PC (2, Interesting)

AP2k (991160) | about 8 years ago | (#16341823)

You just know someone is crazy enough to use this precedence to piss on people installing games on their computers.

Only in America.

Re:Next up: PC (0, Troll)

Amouth (879122) | about 8 years ago | (#16342055)

Hey!.. Be Nice to America, or we will bring Democracy to your Country..

And if your already an American.. well let me know when you find a way out.. i want to go..

Export till there's nothing left to export. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16342355)

First I thought the americans were exporting the concept of freedom, but I soon came to realize they're actually giving their own away.

Re:Export till there's nothing left to export. (1)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | about 8 years ago | (#16373231)

The two are not mutually exclusive.

The American Revolution triggered the fall on monarchy throughout much of Europe. The American Nation cleared both the East and West of three Facist Empires in the 20th Century. American Globalism will lead to the fall of the Chinese dictatorships and Middle Eastern Theocracies in the 21st. Yet the American People's own liberties are eroding. It is time is come for a rebirth of the Enlightenment in the US.

Re:Next up: PC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16348639)

It's not a precedent at this level of the court. The decision of the court must be published and that's not done at this level of the court.

We no longer own the things we buy. (4, Insightful)

rolfwind (528248) | about 8 years ago | (#16341859)

These firms are being punished in the same way a lockpicking tool company is being punished in that the tools they sell can be used for evil.

However, modding has not started with computers, people have always modded. They modded cars, their houses, their radios, their tools, and anything else they have bought. And all of these mods have potentially illegal uses.

Imagine if Honda struck back against Aftermarket makers, using the DMCA, and telling people that only "Honda certified" parts are allowed in the vehicles honda bought.

I can't help but think that electronics companies are getting a free ride from the government here.

Re:We no longer own the things we buy. (1)

Temuar Skylari (1008449) | about 8 years ago | (#16341893)

These firms are being punished in the same way a lockpicking tool company is being punished in that the tools they sell can be used for evil.

I really like that analogy, but has that ever happened? Anyone have a lawsuit link or somesuch?

informative? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16342095)

More like speculative. Do you actually KNOW anyone who has a modded xbox who DOESN'T use it for pirated games? Regardless of whether modding HAS to be used for pirating, and regardless of whether pirating is "bad" or whatever, modded xbox systems are for playing pirated software. That's it. If you're going to pick a hole in this argument, this is the wrong one to choose.

Re:informative? (3, Interesting)

sqlrob (173498) | about 8 years ago | (#16342165)

Yes. He's using it as a media center. Doesn't have any games for it at all.

Re:informative? (1)

jythie (914043) | about 8 years ago | (#16342203)

I do not know about xbox, but everyone I know who has modded thier playstations did it to play imports. I have not met anyone who bothered to pirate games.

Re:informative? (1)

spectral (158121) | about 8 years ago | (#16342383)

I just bought a japanese PS2 because my friends tried to play imports using chips and they either had chip detectors (they usually had early chips that weren't as cloaked
) or fried the console when attempting to install it.

Re:informative? (2, Informative)

jeaton (44965) | about 8 years ago | (#16342281)

Do you actually KNOW anyone who has a modded xbox who DOESN'T use it for pirated games?


Yes. Me.

I installed a modchip in my XBox specifically so that I could run XBMC. I have used it precisely once to play an XBox game which I ripped from a game I purchased to see how it performed. Since then, I have used it exclusively to stream music to my stereo, as the UI is better than any of the other devices I had tried.

I only decided to hack my XBox after I realized I hadn't played games on it in several months. All of my gaming now is on my DS.

Re:informative? (1)

hawkbug (94280) | about 8 years ago | (#16342331)

Yeah, I have a modded xbox and NEVER use it for games. I use it for one thing - streaming files from windows PC, files I have copied from my tivo to watch elsewhere. Why should that be illegal again? I don't have time for video games much these days, and if I did, I don't feel a 20 gig hard drive is enough space to store a bunch of backed up games.

Re:informative? (2, Informative)

startled (144833) | about 8 years ago | (#16342591)

Seconded: I have a modded XBox that has never had a pirated game copied to or played on it. It's a great media box.

Re:informative? (1)

j35ter (895427) | about 8 years ago | (#16342705)

Actually I know quite a few of them!
Its true that most ppl. use the chips to play illegal copies; still I see that as a problem of media producing companies.
Maybe the U.S. should ban the sales of sport cars, after all, how many sports car owners are race drivers? I might be inclined to think that most of them break the law on a regular basis
And tes, unlike video game pirates, these guys risk human lifes...

Re:informative? (2, Informative)

gamlidek (459505) | about 8 years ago | (#16343187)

More like speculative. Do you actually KNOW anyone who has a modded xbox who DOESN'T use it for pirated games? Regardless of whether modding HAS to be used for pirating, and regardless of whether pirating is "bad" or whatever, modded xbox systems are for playing pirated software. That's it. If you're going to pick a hole in this argument, this is the wrong one to choose.

Yes, I know someone. *I* have a modded xbox that I use to play the games that I have purchased so they have a faster load time, you insensitive clod. I also don't like getting up to change the game out, not having to worry about scratching the media, and other benefits of not relying on the physical disc to play my game. In addition, I have all of my CD music ripped to MP3 on the thing and use it as a media center -- CD music that I bought. Your comment is extremely thought provoking, nontheless. Not.

/gam/

Re:informative? (1)

GhaleonStrife (916215) | about 8 years ago | (#16344971)

I have a modded Xbox that I use to watch (unlicensed) anime on. Ideon, Macross 7, and the like. But when it comes to games, I put my games on the HD, put the physical disc in a cabinet, and try not to touch it for as long as possible. You know, unless we decide to do a Halo 2 system link party. Then I take Halo 2 out, put it in the second console, and we all play. Fair use, etc.

Re:informative? (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 8 years ago | (#16343393)

Actually, I don't know of anybody who owns an Xbox period, but that's because I pretty much stopped playing games after the Super Nintendo, though I did buy a PS1 for FF7 and Metal Gear Solid (having been a big fan of the games from the NES days).

Though I'm getting back in with the Wii.

However, because of Fair Use and my own experience with CDs that just die, I can see why someone would want to mod their box so they can back up their games to a hard drive. And because of regioning in DVDs, why someone would want to simply mod their box to play Japanese games rather than having to buy a whole new nearly identical console.

Also, I imagine a few mod chips act like the cheating systems of a few years back, allowing the player to get any power-up - like the game genie of years back.

I can think of quite a few legitimate uses.

Re:informative? (1)

Buzz_Litebeer (539463) | about 8 years ago | (#16347019)

Oddly yes, he uses the mod chip in his xBox so that he can watch pornography on his plasma television.

Re:We no longer own the things we buy. (1)

Sancho (17056) | about 8 years ago | (#16342763)

In both of your cases, the tool is restricted, but is the use therein? Can you not mod your console on your own? My suspicion is that you can (it would be a fair use) but you aren't allowed to distribute such a tool.

Re:We no longer own the things we buy. (1)

gamlidek (459505) | about 8 years ago | (#16343237)

Do you mean, is it possible for one to mod an xbox? Or are you asking is it fair use for a person to mod their own xbox? If the former: yes, absolutely. I have modded my own, and know a few peeps that have, as well. If the latter, I don't know why not. I can mod my car, my laptop, my Dell PC, my house, etc.

I guess, I'm with you on the latter aspect: what's so special about an xbox that precludes me from the right to modify it with a "mod chip"?

/gam/

Re:We no longer own the things we buy. (1)

Sancho (17056) | about 8 years ago | (#16343411)

Nothing, except that it may be illegal for someone to hand you a mod chip. If you want to make the chip yourself, I think it would be hard for you to be convicted.

Re:We no longer own the things we buy. (1)

Damvan (824570) | about 8 years ago | (#16343637)

"I don't know why not. I can mod my car, my laptop, my Dell PC, my house, etc."

Well, like an xbox, some of those things you can't modify, in certain ways, legally. You cannot mod your car anyway you like and still be able to drive it on public roads legally. You cannot modify your house anyway you like, without a permit, and be able to sell it latter. Not to mention your homeowner's insurance cancelling you. So, sure you CAN modify those things, just like a xbox, but is it legal? Not necesarily.

Re:We no longer own the things we buy. (1)

rolfwind (528248) | about 8 years ago | (#16345309)

And note that is state law and local law, Federal Law does not get into this area.

And yes, you can modify your car as you like as long as you don't drive on public roads which the state controls and therefore can restrict use of (notice how bicycles are not allowed on highways in all/most/some areas). Modifying your house is based on local law, so one generalization is not good for the whole country.

Oftentimes, a building permit to add on to your house is just as much, if not more so, about collecting more property taxes as it is about safety.

I think there is a difference.

Re:We no longer own the things we buy. (1)

gamlidek (459505) | about 8 years ago | (#16417141)

Exactly. I CAN mod whatever I own however I want without fear of the act of just modding it being illegal. _USE_ of said mods may or may not be legal, but that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying that I can't see a reason why it would be illegal just to MOD something. If I mod my xbox so I can install a larger hard drive to store all of my ITMS files purchased from itunes, for instance, vs. modding it for the larger hard drive so I can rent video games and copy the content to my drive and return the game. One of those _uses_ breaks the law, but the simple fact that I modded it doesn't mean I broke the law.

WRT your example, I agree that I cannot mod my car in a way that makes it no longer street legal and still be able to drive my car on public streets legally. But I am saying that I should be able to mod my car so that it's no longer street legal without fear of breaking the law. If modding my xbox, car, Weber grill, etc., breaks the law, then I need to become more active in politics because it's just gotten too insane. If the USE of my mods is illegal and I USE a mod illegally, then, yes, I have indeed broken the law. But again, I'm not talking about using a mod illegally. I'm talking about just making the modification in the first place is NOT illegal.

Anyways... I hope I made myself a touch mroe clear. :-)

Cheers,

/gam/

Re:We no longer own the things we buy. (1)

couchslug (175151) | about 8 years ago | (#16343745)

"Imagine if Honda struck back against Aftermarket makers, using the DMCA, and telling people that only "Honda certified" parts are allowed in the vehicles honda bought."

If Honda did this, the only customers they would have left would be the ignorant and the fanbois.
Car buyers expect choice and become angry when they don't get it.

Free ride??? (1)

DrJimbo (594231) | about 8 years ago | (#16349975)

rolfwind opined:
I can't help but think that electronics companies are getting a free ride from the government here.
Those companies paid good cash money [wikipedia.org] for all the Senators and Congress Critters they bought.

Free ride indeed!

Take a Hint (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16341917)

Although I can see their point of not wanting piracy, don't they notice what people are actually doing? Aren't they making their consoles do what they want them too? I have to admit, if I saw my console, one I manufactured, being modded with face plates that read off disk space and allow games to be moved to the drive, etc, wouldn't it be smarter to build these in myself and charge more for the device? Obviously you should put in safeguards, but learn from what is going on around you and adapt your product to your customer. Isn't this a lesson in Business 101?

Re:Take a Hint (1)

ianejames (999353) | about 8 years ago | (#16343125)

wouldn't it be smarter to build these in myself and charge more for the device?

Their business model requires selling the device below market value, then recouping that loss by increasing the cost of games (indirectly through licensing).

Re:Take a Hint (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16344703)

Business 101 includes "Give the customer what they want."

However, Business 102 adds "Give the customer what they want. But not quite yet."

Re:Take a Hint (1)

kellererik (307956) | about 8 years ago | (#16346921)

You forgot Entertainment-Business 103 [Imagine an angry kid jumping, screaming, pounding the walls]: "I don't want you to play / watch imported games and DVDs, even if we are to stupid to sell them here or the domestic version is of inferior quality! I don't! I don't! I don't! I'll hold my breath until this has made it into legislation!"

Re:Take a Hint (1)

Alchemar (720449) | about 8 years ago | (#16359027)

They lose money on the consoles, wouldn't that mean that the game manufactures are their customers, not the "consumer"?

Get Rid of Region Codes (3, Informative)

gtmaneki (992991) | about 8 years ago | (#16342035)

If they'd get rid of region codes on games, a lot of incentive to modify consoles would go away. I modded my PlayStation so I could play some fun games that never made it here, like Persona 2: Innocent Sin, Macross VFX 2, and Gunnm: Martian Memory.

Nintendo has it right. The GBA and DS are region-free.

Re:Get Rid of Region Codes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16342931)

Not to mention Sony with the PSP, and the PS3's going to be region free as well... oh but the Wii isn't.

Re:Get Rid of Region Codes (1)

zoftie (195518) | about 8 years ago | (#16343073)

well they are portable, imagine kid from hong kong comes down to airport in say frankfurt, wants a new game, and his gameboy tells him to take a hike. I'd toss that console pretty fast. Stationary entertainment systems don't travel as much, so their market share won't be dented as much by the "annoyed" customers. Or so I'd think from their prespective. I mean even if you get copy of windows, you don't own it you get licenced to use a copy that can be , logistically speaking revoked. Thinking in twisted corporate ways, sometimes lets you figure a way to untwist them.
Remember corporations of now have been desclared to have presonalities of psychopath [1]. What can you really expect ;-)

[1] http://www.thecorporation.com/index.php?page_id=2 [thecorporation.com]

Re:Get Rid of Region Codes (1)

westlake (615356) | about 8 years ago | (#16348529)

If they'd get rid of region codes on games, a lot of incentive to modify consoles would go away

The reality is that exporting culture -- in a book, a game, or a video -- is hard. The stateside market for the region-free console is microscopic.

Re:Get Rid of Region Codes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16348809)

The reason there are region lockout codes at ALL on Nintendo products is when products have develop A and publisher B in America and C in Japan. If the Japanese release happens 3 months early (not atypical, the Wii coming out in the US first is highly unusual), then B fears losing sales if there is no region lockout.

No idea why NONE of their gameboys, ever, have been region locked, though.

Sony lockouts have been *very hard* to fix, requiring a custom logic chip usually. Microsoft as well. Usually this chip replaced also enables the play of pirated games, because pirates and imports are descriminated against on the same chip.

Nintendo piracy has always been difficult, and handled in a different fashion than the rest.

NES:
pirate lockout: hard to duplicate proprietary catridge design.
region lockout: Jp games shorter than US games, needs converter about half the size of a NES cart that is basically a pin-thru.

SNES:
pirate lockout: proprietary cartidge design, clever ROM timing tests to detect loading from nongenuine sources, something else I'm forgetting.
region lockout: different shape of base of Super Fami games, needs very short converter to switch it over.

N64:
same general techniques as the SNES

GCN:
pirate lockout: ludicrous disk format (but the SAME format worldwide), chip that handles logic for this.
region lockout: two pins are connected with a resitor for JP, and not connected for the US. That's right: I've modded several GCNs with nothing but a soldering iron, two medium lengths of wire, a small resistor, and a itty bitty switch. Oh, and solder and glue to hold the switch in place, poking out of the grill at the back.

It's like they have all been easy-mode to region switch, and hard mode to pirate. Since I MUST PLAY imports, if I was a Sony or MS fan, I would have machines that could play any game: as it is, I have a bunch of Nintendo machines that can play any legit game, and the cost to me was trivial.

You are right, it's a much better solution.

Re:Get Rid of Region Codes (1)

Firefly1 (251590) | about 8 years ago | (#16396143)

If the Japanese release happens 3 months early (not atypical, the Wii coming out in the US first is highly unusual), then B fears losing sales if there is no region lockout.
Which begs this question: why not go for no-reigon-coding and simultaneous global release? That way, everyone wins.
And yes, simultaneous global release is something the movie industry should be interested in...

Re:Get Rid of Region Codes (1)

atomicstrawberry (955148) | about 8 years ago | (#16358993)

Nintendo has it right. The GBA and DS are region-free.

Nintendo has it wrong. The Wii is region-locked, X360 leaves it up to the publishers, and PS3 is region free.

I'm surprised... (4, Informative)

Gadzinka (256729) | about 8 years ago | (#16342063)

I'm surprised that no one picked up the fact that it is Japanese company suing French company in US court.

They won. SFW? How are they going to enforce this ruling in France? From the coverage of this ruling on Ars Technica I know, that the company is still offering those modchips on their web page. And they will. The only thing they can't do now is to visit US. And maybe Iraq or Afghanistan. All of the international treaties about enforcig court rulings abroad have one basic assumption written into them: no party to such treaty shall enforce a court ruling for something that's perfectly legal in the country of residence of defendant party.

Nothing to see here, move along.

Robert

Default Judgment? (2, Informative)

calbanese (169547) | about 8 years ago | (#16342099)

...damages against corporate defendant Divineo, Inc., and Canadian resident Frederic Legault.
...damages against corporate defendants Divineo U.K. and Divineo SARL, and French resident Max Louarn.


It sounds like the suit wasn't defended. Plus, ESA won't see a dime unless Divineo corporate assets are in the US (which I would doubt). Legault, Lourn, and Divineo UK are not subject to personal jurisdiction in the US, and any judgment against them most likely won't be enforceble in their home countries. I would guess Legault and Lourn didn't appear in the US to defend the suit. If the above is true, this case has absolutely no precedential value, despite what the ESA claims. Plus its a N.D.Ca decision, so even if it was a fully litigated case, this "precedent" is only be binding in that judicial district.

Re:Default Judgment? (1)

zoftie (195518) | about 8 years ago | (#16343017)

Well this sort of sucks. Looks like they are setting up the nets to catch future chippers of future and current plaforms, if they ever to do business in United States. What is odd, say they can build up a set of cases using which they can try to streamline cases into playing. Like they can have a case UK case against an american company, and mutually exclusive precedents will be set up, by winning them.

It should be required to have presence of company representative at these hearings, otherwise the case should be declared invalid. I wonder if such cases will have significant weight in deciding future cases against US led companies that might be treading similar waters. IANAL :-)

Console Makers Can Thank The ESA... (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 8 years ago | (#16342117)

..for me never buying another new game console or new game. If they want to treat the equipment they *sold* me as still under their control, then they will pay and/or perform all maintenance on said equipment, and the same for the games. If the games they *sold* me are their property, then they will replace the media when it gets scratched/damaged for a minor, nominal fee to cover handling/shipping. Otherwise, I have better things to spend my money on, thank you very much.

For that matter, if the consoles and games become any more consumer unfriendly, I won't even buy a *used* console or game, even at a garage sale for pennies on the dollar.

Cheers!

Strat

Re:Console Makers Can Thank The ESA... (1)

Ant P. (974313) | about 8 years ago | (#16343759)

Funny you should say that, because you won't be able to buy PS3 games used anyway.

Re:Console Makers Can Thank The ESA... (1)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 8 years ago | (#16345313)

Funny you should say that, because you won't be able to buy PS3 games used anyway.

Yeah, really. I have a first-gen PS2 (the old thicker-styled one with seperate networking module add-on) that I bought a few years ago for $20, and that will almost certainly be my last game console ever, precisely beacause of all this type of B.S.. They've convinced me they really don't want to sell me anything, so I'll take them at their word.

Cheers!

Strat

Looks like I better get that HDLoader ordered (1)

Rev Jim (AKA Metal F (1004571) | about 8 years ago | (#16342421)

The kick in the butt I needed to get this ordered. Thanks slashdot.

authoritative ignorance (1)

sgt scrub (869860) | about 8 years ago | (#16342451)

WTF wants to dig through a stack of cartridges/CD's to play a game? Mod chips were as much for convenience as they were for "Possible" circumvention. This is a perfect example of the wrong people making judgements.

Re:authoritative ignorance (2, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | about 8 years ago | (#16342625)

The right people are making judgements. The wrong people are making laws. It's a pretty clear DMCA violation whether you agree with the law or not.

Re:authoritative ignorance (1)

udderly (890305) | about 8 years ago | (#16343841)

Well said.

Not to defend them ... (0)

Vaibhav_Locke (1010373) | about 8 years ago | (#16343043)

OK, so not that I'm defending the fact that console manufacturers believe they own their product even after they've sold it to us, but the DMCA specifically bans the sale of any software that is designed to circumvent copyright protection, and this isn't the first ruling of it's kind. I do believe that once I've bought a game, I should be able to put it into any format I like and once I buy a console, I can spray paint it mod it gut the innards and make it a flower vase if I wanted to, and not be limited by what someone *might* do with such malicious programs as a weather widget. But, in this case the law is pretty clear on the issue and I don't see how the judge had any other choice. Also, this is light years from a "Major Victory" and I doubt this ruling will have much effect at all, but if they want to declare victory go right ahead, while you were filing pointless lawsuits $9 million worth of pirated games were downloaded on the internet (Statistics from the annual study I did in my brain by looking at no actual data)

*sigh* Hooray for assuming we're all criminals. (1)

MWoody (222806) | about 8 years ago | (#16343253)

I understand that the countries involved make it sort of a non-issue - though not being able to enter the US without being arrested might be a rather frustrating thing to work around, if I've understood the specifics of the case - but what frustrates me most is the innate assumption here that the tool WILL be used for piracy. I am the owner of a copy of the HDLoader software. I have used it many times, but never to run downloaded ROMs off the net or to play burned copies of games. I use it for three reasons: 1) I don't have to get up and hunt down a disc to play a particular game. 2) I don't have to worry about scratching the discs with a lot of shuffling around. And, most importantly of all, 3) Many games run much, MUCH faster off a HDD than off the original discs! Indeed, downloading ROMs to the disc, or even running burned copies of games, would require just as much mod chipping, disc swapping, etc. etc. as it would without the HDLoader app.

Fight the DMCA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16348681)

By not buying their crap or buying it second-hand or downloading everything you can for nothing.

The only way you can hit back with corrupt law makers is to hit the source of the funds :
the companies buying them.

Boycott !!!

And spare us the bullshit about lost sales. 90% of those would never have happened in the first place. This is just greed.

Why this is a bad decision from a legal standpoint (1)

KeithIrwin (243301) | about 8 years ago | (#16355967)

The law outlaws circumventing measures which protect copyrighted content. These are defined as measures which require the application of information or some other process to render the copyrighted work accessible. For instance, DVDs are scrambled, and the DVD player must have a key to unscramble them. However, video games are not scrambled. They are not encrypted in any fashion. They're just signed. The "copy protection" mechanisms in video game systems do not protect the content. They protect the hardware. They prevent the hardware from running unauthorized code. As such, they cannot, according to the law, be considered to effectively control access to a copyrighted work since the copyrighted work is still on the disk and can be read by an emulator or any other device which wishes to. Mod chips do not therefore violate the DMCA as written. As such, even if the lawsuit was unopposed, the judge should not have awarded damages due to the DMCA. Logically, one of the following occur: 1) the judge failed to understand the law 2) the judge failed to understand the technical issues or 3) Sony committed perjury in explaining how the copy-protection systems work.

Keith

Next up... (1)

atomicstrawberry (955148) | about 8 years ago | (#16359025)

... we will be needing to ban crowbars. After all, they can be used to break locks so that people can steal things! We must enact new legislation straight away to make sure that crowbars and any other tool that might be used for crime is banned. After all, it's the creators of the tool that are criminals, not the people who used it to break the law.

Re:Next up... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16359295)

What a buncha liars alot of people in this thread are! "I never use my xbox to play games!" "I only use HDLoader for PS2 to copy the games I bought to the hard drive!!" "I'd never buy a console to play games!" Oh good lord. There is one main reason to mod a video game console. That reason, simply, is piracy. I have 2 modded xboxen, and use them more nowadays as media centers, but both have big hard drives in them full of games I pirated, copied from rentals, or borrowed and copied from friends. There is a reason that most internet traffic nowadays is Bittorrent traffic, and no matter what slashdot geeks may lie about in threads, it IS NOT from people d'loading linux ISO's. It is from software piracy. "All my friends modded their PS1 consoles to buy 90 dollar import japanese RPG's!!" No they didn't. They did it to burn and play ISO's. "I only downloaded the Dreamcast Boot Disc to play homebrew software!" No you didn't. "I only downgraded my PSP to firmware 1.5 to play homebrew software!" Liars. I guess that is why you also probably bought a 2 gig memstick, too, huh. Certainly not to load UMD images downloaded from torrent sites, oh no. The reality is that if homebrew software was all that console manufacturers had to worry about, there wouldn't be any real readon to prevent cd-r or dvd-r media from booting on the consoles. No, the console manufacturers have the very real threat of rampant software piracy to worry about, especially now that broadband access is getting more prevalent. Oh, and if anyone here thinks the PS3 will be region free, you really need to lay off the crack. Sony will most certainly use region lockouts to prevent easy importing of games.

I guess next you people will all claim that none of you own t.v.'s and only read books. SURE you do.
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