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ESA Initiates Police Raid Against Console Modder

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the mebbe-subtlety-would-have-been-a-virtue-here dept.

The Courts 139

Donkey Konga writes "A San Diego man was arrested after a raid turned up over a thousand counterfeit games, modded consoles and mod chips. Frederick Brown 'had allegedly built up a thriving business selling counterfeit games and installing mod chips, having advertised his services on Craigslist and other web sites. He allegedly sold pirated games from his Vista, CA residence as well, including both discs and hard drives preloaded with games that he would install into customers' Xboxes and Xbox 360s.' After the ESA learned of his activities, they contacted San Diego law enforcement and the San Diego Computer and Technology Crime High-Tech Response Unit led the raid on his home. '"CATCH was very receptive to the evidence we brought them and were able to put the investigation together in very short order," ESA VP Ric Hirsch told Ars.' Brown now faces 10 felony counts related to selling pirated games and modding consoles."

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Vista residence? (4, Funny)

matt me (850665) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651201)

You can live inside an operating system? Now that's virtualisation. It must be hell.

Shameless off topic website plug (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19651427)

Globaltics [globaltics.net] Global Political Discussion running on slashcode

-Uncle Willy

The dummy turned off UAC (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19651473)

Never had a chance.

"You door is about to be kicked in, Cancel or Allow?"

Re:The dummy turned off UAC (0, Redundant)

Kalriath (849904) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655039)

Where does that "Cancel or Allow?" line come from? It's not UAC, which has only two options - "Continue or Cancel" so I don't know where it comes from.

Re:Vista residence? (1)

mythar (1085839) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654263)

You can live inside an operating system?
only in california..

Re:Vista residence? (2, Funny)

MorePower (581188) | more than 7 years ago | (#19656425)

I'm still trying to figure out why the European Space Agency went after him.

Okay... (2, Insightful)

3p1ph4ny (835701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651203)

I understand the pirated games part, but how can he possibly be charged with anything about modding consoles? Sure, the console manufacturer doesn't want you to do it, and (in the case of the Xbox 360) they'll go to great lengths to prevent you from doing it (that's their "right"). They can't make it illegal though, can they? That's just stupid.

Re:Okay... (2, Informative)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651235)

I understand the pirated games part, but how can he possibly be charged with anything about modding consoles? Sure, the console manufacturer doesn't want you to do it, and (in the case of the Xbox 360) they'll go to great lengths to prevent you from doing it (that's their "right"). They can't make it illegal though, can they? That's just stupid.

Hello, DMCA? The modded console is a copyright circumvention device.

Re:Okay... (1)

3p1ph4ny (835701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651507)

Modded consoles are not only used for copyright circumvention, but to enable the hardware to do other stuff that it couldn't do before. Since I bought the console, I own the hardware, I should be allowed to extract any added value from it I want, right?

Isn't it kind of like banning all BitTorrent traffic, even though there are legitimate uses?

Re:Okay... (1)

pclminion (145572) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651591)

Modded consoles are not only used for copyright circumvention, but to enable the hardware to do other stuff that it couldn't do before. Since I bought the console, I own the hardware, I should be allowed to extract any added value from it I want, right?

I don't disagree. Yet the law is what it is.

Re:Okay... (1)

iksbob (947407) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651911)

"Since I bought the console, I own the hardware, I should be allowed to extract any added value from it I want, right?"
IIRC, the DMCA says you can't sell or distribute copyright protection circumvention devices. In that case, you can extract all the value you want from your console, you just can't get anyone else's help in doing so, or help anyone else if you figure out a way to do so.

Re:Okay... (1)

amuro98 (461673) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652427)

Intent has nothing to do with it, unfortunately.

Under the DMCA you are legally not allowed modify or reverse engineer hardware, nor bypass copyright protection methods.

Note that this means if you use a region-free DVD player to play a legitimately purchased, non-region1 DVD, you've just violated the DMCA.

The DMCA is intentionally overly broad and vague - the best legislation money can buy. Check out the EFF about ways they're trying to not only fight the DMCA, but have it stricken from the books entirely.

Re:Okay... (4, Funny)

tsa (15680) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652673)

So in principle I am not allowed to use a door as a table in the USA. Great law. I'm glad I live in Europe.

Re:Okay... (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 7 years ago | (#19656845)

don't worry we already got the Aussies on and soon canada - guess what - your next :)

Re:Okay... (1)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653037)

"Under the DMCA you are legally not allowed modify or reverse engineer hardware, nor bypass copyright protection methods."

Actually, I think you are allowed to, in order to support interoperability, and also, for personal usage (fair use). In the latter case, you just aren't allowed to tell anyone else how you did it, nor help them to do so.

Re:Okay... (1)

FLEB (312391) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653633)

Has this been tested? Region encoding isn't a copy-protection device, it's a market segmentation device.

Re:Okay... (1)

reub2000 (705806) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652893)

Why do you think we hate the DMCA?

Re:Okay... (1)

edwdig (47888) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652951)

He was selling modded consoles with pirated games already loaded on the hard disk. There's no doubt about what the intentions were there.

Re:Okay... (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653123)

Since I bought the console, I own the hardware, I should be allowed to extract any added value from it I want, right?

You can own a lot of things, a house, a car, an airplane. That doesn't mean every modification you might want to make will be legal.

Re:Okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653367)

Aha. I can buy a car and put whatever I like on it. I can put on huge tires, put in an airplane engine, take off the brake lights, put spikes on the bumpers, whatever. As long as I keep it on my property. (Overly restrictive covenants and other things notwithstanding...I also question the legality of restrictions on what one does to their house, so yes I know you have to get permitting, etc...)

I only have to conform to State and Federal law regarding automobiles if I want to drive it on public streets/off of my property.

To the same degree, I should be able to mod, say, an XBox 360 to do whatever I want to do with it. What MS does is say, "If you mod it, we'll ban you from our service, the one where we let you interact with other people on our network." This is at least a moderately defensible position; telling me that it is illegal to modify it for my own private use is where it is morally wrong (and thus the distaste of the DMCA).

Re:Okay... (2, Interesting)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652651)

Is it illegal under the DMCA to circumvent region locking mechanisms? And if you could prove that the lockout is actually more about locking users out of playing alternate region discs would you still be in violation?

Not that we shouldn't keep working to get rid of the DMCA since it serves no purpose for the people and is effectively just more corporate welfare on top of that.

Re:Okay... (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652877)

Oh, indeed you might be able to fight and claim thjat the region coding is less a copy protection and more a profit mechanism and shouldn't apply. It will only cost you your home and family's income for who knows how long to make the case. Legal abuse at it's very best....

At least the sheeple are slowly starting to wake up to just how bad things have gotten but it's going to be a VERY long time before we reclaim some of the right's we've lost. Sadly they have only just begun with the anger stage, torches and pitchforks will be awhile coming I fear.

Re:Okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19654381)

> My current hobby is not collecting stamps ...

Love the sig.

Re:Okay... (1)

nonsequitor (893813) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653109)

I believe the important distinction here is that the consoles were modded and still able to execute signed code, copied games. When you modify a console to run unsigned code it is not a DMCA violation since you are not circumventing copyright protection.

I'm unfamiliar with the XBOX 360 modding specifics, but with the original XBOX there were 2 types of BIOS that could be obtained. The first is a completely legal linux-loader BIOS, the popular one being the Cromwell BIOS. The second being a not exactly legal 3rd party BIOS obtained from the usual places (if you don't know, I'm not going to tell you), which can execute both signed and unsigned code. This can be quite handy for legally(?) backing up games you have licenses for on your hard drive and running programs like XBMC. IANAL, so I don't know if backing up a game you own constitutes circumventing a copyright, so YMMV.

This guy was distributing pirated versions of games, backed up games without having a license (game disc), and the means to use them. All of which is highly illegal. Its a shame that someone bright enough to pull it off was not bright enough to know better than to advertise it publically.

Re:Okay... (1)

Shados (741919) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651267)

Im guessing he only was arrested on the piracy (copyright...) things. The rest was just thrown in as a description of his activity.

Re:Okay... (1)

moderatorrater (1095745) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651495)

Welcome to the world of the DMCA, where people who think that ownership of hardware means that you can use it like you want to.

Re:Okay... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19652563)

The DMCA is not enough to protect our country's corporate interests! we must take the law further! the uppity bright-minded people of this country will be the death of big business! The corporations are actually the descendants of Atlantis, and therefore the UberMench. All others are inferior compared to our Corporate Fuhrers! We should enact a law that requires anyone who uses OSS or mods hardware to wear an armband so they can be easily identified. Copyright is the supreme law of the Fatherland, and we must protect it by any means necessary! All those interested in tinkering shall report to special camps for re-education immediately!

Re:Okay... (3, Interesting)

twistedsymphony (956982) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651723)

The Modchips alone are either just your typical bios chip (like the Xbox and PS2) or they're you're standard PIC/AVR microcontroller (PS1, Wii, Saturn, Dreamcast, etc.)

The use of modchips is a very gray line and using a modchip in and of itself is not a crime even under DMCA... most are sold blank or with "legal" firmware that does nothing to aid in circumvention of protection mechanisms. Xbox 1 chips specifically come pre-loaded with "Cromwell" bioses that are based on Linux and don't actually allow the playback of backup discs.

The bioses that do allow the playback of backup discs are hacked version of the original bioses or development bioses, and themselves are considered pirated material (like the Evox and X2 series of hacked bioses for the Xbox 1).

Seeing as I know someone who was recently arrested for selling pirated Xbox games "and installing modchips" He was only ever charged with the piracy issues... It's my understanding that most of the time they'll report about the installation work in the papers but it's so far over the heads of the police and prosecutors that they don't even try to make a case for the modchip stuff... it's just too much work to make a sound case for it when they've got X hundred counts of piracy that they can easily nail them with.

Re:Okay... (1)

triffid_98 (899609) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652517)

Actually, that's true of modern modchips (PS2,Xbox,etc.), but I've never heard of flashable chips for anything older than that. Even in the case of the PS2 there are still tons of non-flashable chips out there (any of the 10,000 chiwanese clones of the Matrix Infinity chip).

For myself, I think the most defensible arguments for these chips are that they

A) allow you to use backup media to play your games (kids+cds=scratches)
B) allow you to play games from other regions.

In some cases there are other benefits, for example, the PS2 laser/drive assemblies are freaking notorious for their high rates of failure. With a modified system, you can circumvent this by running all of your games from a hard disk. Way more convenient too.

The use of modchips is a very gray line and using a modchip in and of itself is not a crime even under DMCA... most are sold blank or with "legal" firmware that does nothing to aid in circumvention of protection mechanisms. Xbox 1 chips specifically come pre-loaded with "Cromwell" bioses that are based on Linux and don't actually allow the playback of backup discs

Re:Okay... (2, Informative)

mastershake_phd (1050150) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654615)

From the DMCA:
BR> No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that -

* (A) is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title;

* (B) has only limited commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title; or

* (C) is marketed by that person or another acting in concert with that person with that person's knowledge for use in circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work protected under this title.


I always thought mod-chips were legal based on this. As long as the "primary purpose" was to use homebrew software. Or, in the case of the action replay or game-shark (which is apparently legal but can be used to circumvent copy protection), to modify parts of the systems memory for cheating purposes.

But, now that I read it again, it is quite vague. I guess it depends if the "work" being protected is the console or the disc that goes in it.

The headline is a little misleading (3, Informative)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651207)

If he's selling pirated stuff, that's one matter but why should it be illegal to modify your console? If somebody wants to copy their own personal copy of a game onto their hard drive, that should fall under fair use (note I said should, not does). The headline makes it sound like modding consoles is all he's guilty of.

Re:The headline is a little misleading (3, Informative)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651361)

Maybe you missed the news for quite a while now, but it's illegal to circumvent copyright here now. The chip itself is not illegal, but once you install it, you've broken the law, even if it's not actually ever used.

Yes, it's a stupid law. But it's still the law, and if you break the law (and get caught!) you get arrested.

I have to wonder if they guy -wanted- to be arrested, though. Advertising illegal activities on Craig's List? Jeeeez. Maybe he could put posters on the Police Headquarters' doors next time, instead.

So, WHY would he want to get arrested? There's only 1 way to get a law off the books: Fight it in court. Yes, it's stupid, too. You have to actually break the law you think is unfair, do jailtime, and then beat it in court (probably several courts) before you can get the law removed.

This is true no matter how stupid the law is, and that's why there's still a law in FL that makes it illegal to blow bubbles underwater, or to lead your elephant down Main Street backwards in Maine. (I may have the places wrong, but they exist.)

Re:The headline is a little misleading (1)

XxtraLarGe (551297) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651503)

Yes, it's a stupid law. But it's still the law, and if you break the law (and get caught!) you get arrested.
There's no need to be patronizing in your replies, it's quite rude. Most everybody here is well aware of copyright law, I wanted to know what law specifically prevents somebody from modding their console?

So, WHY would he want to get arrested? There's only 1 way to get a law off the books: Fight it in court. Yes, it's stupid, too. You have to actually break the law you think is unfair, do jailtime, and then beat it in court (probably several courts) before you can get the law removed.
I highly doubt this is a case of Civil Disobedience. If he was only modding boxes, I could maybe see your point, but having thousands of dollars worth of pirated stuff is something different.

Re:The headline is a little misleading (1)

Aladrin (926209) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652027)

Maybe you haven't noticed, but not everyone here is a computer science major. Every time I leave some stupid little detail out, not matter how useless, I get 6 replies telling me of my 'mistake', instead of realizing I left it out because 'everyone' already knows it.

And yes, I realize that he was also doing illegal things that there was no way he could fight in court. I was simply noting that there's only 1 reason he'd want to, no matter how little sense it actually made. The only other reason he'd do that was because he was just really, really stupid.

Re:The headline is a little misleading (1)

aichpvee (631243) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652763)

You should just do what I do and wave the Magical Copyright Protection Wand(tm) over all your posts. The Magical Copyright Protection Wand(tm) is a system designed to protect the copyright on my posts and enforce my licensing terms. I happen to only license derivative works of my posts (ie: replies, citations) to those who agree with me 100%. Anyone else is in violation of the DMCA for circumventing the Magical Copyright Protection Wand(tm).

Re:The headline is a little misleading (1)

Danse (1026) | more than 7 years ago | (#19656435)

Most everybody here is well aware of copyright law, I wanted to know what law specifically prevents somebody from modding their console?

I believe the DMCA also prohibits distributing tools or devices designed to circumvent copyright protection schemes.

Re:The headline is a little misleading (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651561)

So, WHY would he want to get arrested? There's only 1 way to get a law off the books: Fight it in court.

No, I'm sure he was just a stupid criminal, in it only for the money. Why? Because he was committing massive copyright infrigement too. If the whole thing was a ploy to dispute the "circumvention device" parts of the DMCA, he would have only installed modchips, but not distributed games also.

Re:The headline is a little misleading (1)

MoHaG (1002926) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651667)

Maybe you missed the news for quite a while now, but it's illegal to circumvent copyright here now. The chip itself is not illegal, but once you install it, you've broken the law, even if it's not actually ever used.

Yes, it's a stupid law. But it's still the law, and if you break the law (and get caught!) you get arrested.
What if you used your modchip to run Linux [xbox-linux.org] on the console?

Re:The headline is a little misleading (1)

Solra Bizna (716281) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651897)

What if you used your modchip to run Linux on the console?

It's not what you do with the modchip, it's the fact that it's there, capable of circumventing copyright. While I do think that all five of the people who installed a modchip in their console solely to run Linux are morally clean, the law disagrees.

-:sigma.SB

Re:The headline is a little misleading (2, Interesting)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652087)

Most modchips are distributed with BIOS's that only run Linux and the like. Allowing it to circumvent copyright requires further modification to the modchip (ie, reflashing it). If that enables copyright infringement then so does the original device, as it can perfectly well play copied games as soon as someone tinkers with it in the appropriate manner.

A simple mod-chip that has not been reflashed can not be considered illegal, even under the DMCA.

Re:The headline is a little misleading (4, Insightful)

GoodbyeBlueSky1 (176887) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652617)

And when those folks with mod chips running Linux *and not pirating games* actually are arrested, then I'll get worked up. Yes, the letter of the law might say the mod chips are illegal but I've yet to hear about anyone being arrested for that alone. This guy's only in trouble because he's a large-scale pirate scumbag, and maybe the mod-chip thing adds some flavor to the prosecution's case. It's like how fellatio is illegal in some states, but you'd only get in trouble for it if it was tacked on to some other, much worse situation.

These stories are always the same: somebody does something irrefutably illegal and is arrested and charged, but one or two details about the case are in a gray area, so everyone goes apeshit about the minor details. Find me a story where someone is charged over ONLY the minor details and I'll stop considering Zonk nothing more than an inflammatory troublemaker.

[/rant]

Re:The headline is a little misleading (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19657245)

Maybe you missed the news for quite a while now, but it's illegal to circumvent copyright here now. The chip itself is not illegal, but once you install it, you've broken the law, even if it's not actually ever used.

You can't circumvent copyright. Copyright's a legal concept, not a mechanism. You can circumvent copy controls or access controls, and under the DMCA the act of doing either is illegal. Also, under that same law, the devices themselves (i.e. the chips) are also illegal, regardless of if they've been installed, and trafficking in them is illegal.

So, WHY would he want to get arrested? There's only 1 way to get a law off the books: Fight it in court. Yes, it's stupid, too. You have to actually break the law you think is unfair, do jailtime, and then beat it in court (probably several courts) before you can get the law removed.

That is also incorrect. You can sue the Attorney General of the US or your state (depending on the origin of the law) to get an injuction against enforcement.

Re:The headline is a little misleading (1)

Targon (17348) | more than 7 years ago | (#19656221)

A person is allowed to mod their own console, but to sell a modified console breaks a number of rules, which I can sort of understand. It may also be illegal to sell the service to modify the console of others, since the mods in question really are ONLY intended to encourage software piracy.

There are similar laws about other products out there when it comes to fair use. Doing a mod to eliminate the copy protection system for VCR tapes and DVDs can't realistically be stopped for many reasons, but the sale of modified products, especially as a business offering is CLEARLY against the law.

Ridiculous (0, Redundant)

cromar (1103585) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651229)

Brown now faces 10 felony counts related to selling pirated games and modding consoles.

OK, for pirating and selling games, sure. But it's a crazy world where someone can get raided for modding hardware legally purchased by its owner. I've never even seen an EULA for a console's firmware, let alone agreed to any contracts.

Misleading headline (5, Insightful)

Nighttime (231023) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651253)

In typical /. fashion, headline is designed to get people impassioned about a poor console modder. A fairer headline would be "ESA Initiates Police Raid Against Games Counterfeiter." Yes, it says that in the summary but how many around here even RTFS nevermind RTFA?

Re:Misleading headline (2)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651437)

No doubt. What this guy was doing was definately wrong. Parts of it might have been fine. Really, where is the arguement for this guy? It'd be like saying " The chop shop owner should have gone to jail for procurement of stripped car parts, but it's not illegal to use an air grinder on a Honda"

WRIGHT, WRONG, and right, (C), and right (the direction).

Re:Misleading headline (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651613)

"Counterfeiter" is misleading too. After all, those are the real games; they're just illegally duplicated and distributed. A completely correct title would have to read something more like "ESA Initiates Police Raid Against Copyright-Infringer of Games."

Re:Misleading headline (1)

Raphael (18701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652031)

"Counterfeiter" is misleading too. After all, those are the real games; they're just illegally duplicated and distributed.

Sorry, but I disagree. "Counterfeiter" is appropriate. When I buy a commercial game, the software is only a part of what I buy. For me, a game is the software and the medium that carries it (CD or DVD), but also the box, the manuals, and any extra goodies included in the box.

Duplicating the software is a copyright infringment. But what about the box and the other stuff? Until we have a machine that can automagically replicate physical items, the best way to describe what this guy was doing is "counterfeiter".

Re:Misleading headline (1)

DRAGONWEEZEL (125809) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653133)

You are totally right. Counterfit money still buys things. Therefore, it has legal value, and is somewhat "REAL." It's a duplication (even if exactly perfect) that wasn't authorized.

Google define:

forge: make a copy of with the intent to deceive; "he faked the signature"; "they counterfeited dollar bills"; "She forged a Green Card"

imitation: a copy that is represented as the original
This one here sounds right to me!

not genuine; imitating something superior; "counterfeit emotion"; "counterfeit money"; "counterfeit works of art"; "a counterfeit prince"

Re:Misleading headline (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654565)

He's not creating new commercial packaging and passing these off as if he were authorized to manufacture them; his presenting them as files on a hard drive! Therefore, this fails the "represented as the original" portion of your cited definition and does not qualify as "counterfeiting."

Re:Misleading headline (2, Insightful)

mrchaotica (681592) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654623)

Duplicating the software is a copyright infringment. But what about the box and the other stuff?

What about it, indeed? He didn't copy it! If he had, then he would possibly be "counterfeiting" the item, because he would have been trying to pass it off as the original. However, he was instead providing these games as files on a hard disk, making no attempt to disguise the fact that they were unauthorized copies, presented in (explicitly) a different form than the original thing. That's why I say it doesn't qualify as "counterfeiting."

Re:Misleading headline (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651635)

The difference is that a counterfeiter tries to pass off fake goods as the real thing. From dictionary.com: "Counterfeit: made in imitation so as to be passed off fraudulently or deceptively as genuine". I sincerely doubt this guy's customers were convinced they were buying official Microsoft products.

Not that I have a huge amount of sympathy for anyone who does for-profit pirating (much less advertises his services in a public venue), but it's a real stretch to call him a counterfeiter.

Unless they charge him for modding (1)

schwaang (667808) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653931)

A fairer headline would be "ESA Initiates Police Raid Against Games Counterfeiter."

That depends on whether he is being charged for the modding. If not, then you are 100% right.

(And it also depends on whether the modding had anything to do with initiating the investigation. If the investigation was begun only over piracy of the games that's one thing. But if they began the investigation *because* he's a modder, and then happened to find game piracy in the process, that's another thing.)

I didn't RTFA enough to know whether he's been charged for the modding.

Stupid... (3, Insightful)

T_ConX (783573) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651295)

...advertised his services on Craigslist and other web sites.

Why don't you just go ahead and put a sign on you lawn proclaiming your ill-goten warez? I'm all for Mod-chips (for import gaming) and pirating games off BitTorrent (if a game is hard to find), but when you make a business out of it, then you've just crossed the line.

Re:Stupid... (1)

nonsequitor (893813) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653171)

If by "hard to find" you mean won't be in stores for two weeks, I'm right there with you ;)

Re:Stupid... (1)

Dr. Smoove (1099425) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653705)

People are making a business out of all sorts of 'corrupt' shit in the USA. Face it, this guy was pursuing the American dream just like everyone else here. Stop bitching that he was making a living off of it.

I wonder when car manufacturers... (5, Funny)

Red Mage 13 (791885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651313)

Will take note of this, and start raiding Autozone. Although on the plus side, if they started going after modders, there would be fewer cars with really unnecessary spoilers...

Re:I wonder when car manufacturers... (1)

Dancindan84 (1056246) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653483)

They should have to put up a spoiler warning.

Re:I wonder when car manufacturers... (1)

A_Non_Moose (413034) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653871)

must..resist...joke..about..spoiler..tags...

In soviet russia spoilers tag you!

Aw, man you just gave away the ending to the Autozone game! For shame!

(damn, oh well)

Mod Chips shouldn't be illegal (4, Insightful)

PorkNutz (730601) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651391)

IMHO, Mod chips are like guns. If a person buys a gun and kills someone with it, is the gun dealer held responsible? If I buy a mod chip and use it to play games I haven't paid for, should the mod chip dealer be held responsible?

I understand that this guy was also selling unauthorized copies of games and HDDs preloaded with games, and he should have to face penalties for that, but why should I be disallowed to by a mod chip simply because I "could" pirate games with it? Should I be disallowed from buying a computer simply because I could copy music, games, or applications with it? I have two Xboxes in my house that are modded, but only so I can use them as media centers and to let me and my daugter play games we own without risking damage to the original DVDs.

The DMCA sucks nuts.

-----
Police State T-Shirt [prostoner.com]
Funny Shirts @ ProStoner.com

Let's be Honest Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19651919)

Yes, modchips could be used for some legitimate, non-piracy purpose, like homebrew. But so far, I haven't seen it in real life.

Every single person I've seen who mod chipped their system used it to play "backup" copies of games they didn't actually purchase. Even the makers and sellers know it and vaguely wink at this. It's quite obvious what a mod chip primarily exists for.

Is it any wonder that this guy was caught with mod chips and counterfeit games? They seem to go hand in hand with each other.

This is one time I'm glad there's the DMCA. It screws people like me who don't mod, who purchase games legitimately who shoulder the burden of these freeloaders.

Re:Let's be Honest Here (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652009)

And guns are meant to shoot tin cans, cardboard targets, and deer, nudge nudge, wink wink, know what I mean?

Re:Let's be Honest Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19652151)

And guns are meant to shoot tin cans, cardboard targets, and deer, nudge nudge, wink wink, know what I mean?

Why, actually yes, I do. I know a number of people who own guns and shoot for fun. There are millions of law-abiding gun owners in the US who don't violate gun laws. Can you say the same about mod-chippers? I didn't think so.

Comparing mod chips to guns is plainly stupid. I just pwned you.

Re:Let's be Honest Here (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652247)

And guns are meant to shoot tin cans, cardboard targets, and deer, nudge nudge, wink wink, know what I mean?

The only things I've ever shot with my guns have been plastic bottles, aluminum cans, and rocks (at enough of a distance, you get to see the puff of rock chips and crap through the scope.) And the only things I've shot with my bow have been cardboard boxes, although I did shoot at a turkey once (fuckers like to fly into the garden and chew on things.)

I performed a softmod on my Xbox, and while I do use it to play emulated cart console games (16 bit and older) the manufacturers of those systems and games cannot realize revenue from them while they aren't selling them anyway. To the best of my knowledge I am not playing any games in this way that are available on any legitimate virtual console or even games collection - many of which I already own.

Re:Let's be Honest Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653371)

I do use it to play emulated cart console games (16 bit and older) the manufacturers of those systems and games cannot realize revenue from them while they aren't selling them anyway


Yeah, Nintendo's really missing the boat by not selling 16 and 8 bit games for the Wii. I wish they'd think of a way to provide these games through a convenient shopping channel on the console. Maybe they could call it something snappy like Virtual Console.

Seriously, though - do you really think that you can pirate games just because their original manufacturer or licenser is not making the hardware required to play them?

Re:Let's be Honest Here (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654219)

Seriously, though - do you really think that you can pirate games just because their original manufacturer or licenser is not making the hardware required to play them?

No, I think I could pirate games because they are piratable.

I think that it is okay if I do so if I am not depriving the copyright holders of revenue.

I do not think that is what the law says, but the law says a whole lot of things which are just fucking stupid in order to protect the profits of a privileged class which does not have to follow the law. For example, Marijuana is kept illegal because of the [wood] paper, plastics, and some other industries. But the timber industry is legendary for its clever evasions of the law, and various plastics companies have always been among the grosser defilers of our planet. It's also intended to protect the corn biofuels industry (lots of pork there, kickbacks, etc) and the fossil fuels industry, which is the biggest price-fixing cartel on the planet, let alone in the country.

I do not respect laws that exist only to criminalize people so that they can be controlled, or those which are there to protect those who do not respect our laws, either. Why should they receive the protection of the law from us when we do not from them?

Call it an excuse, call it whatever you like, I don't give a damn. I'm not one of your typical herd animals that will give a shit what you think anyway.

Re:Let's be Honest Here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19654947)

Hey, same AC here. One more question. I can understand downloading and playing copies of game carts/floppies/discs you already have in your possession ("legitimate" backups). But what happens if you download a game without owning the original, play it and one day it appears on XBL or the VC? Do you actually purchase that game, delete your copy and not purchase it, or keep playing it (thus depriving the copyright holders of revenue)?

Re:Let's be Honest Here (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655037)

But what happens if you download a game without owning the original, play it and one day it appears on XBL or the VC? Do you actually purchase that game, delete your copy and not purchase it, or keep playing it (thus depriving the copyright holders of revenue)?

Well, assuming I had either which I don't, I really would either stop playing or I'd buy it. The whole point of putting old titles up for sale is that you put them up cheap so that people don't have to pirate them. I'm more than willing to spend the few bucks.

I also hunt for the greats at flea markets, and actually own carts for some of the games I play. I'm looking for more, but many of them don't exist.

I would even be willing to pay for the games on a system I don't even use and then play them on a system I do.

Now with all of that said, I would not accept the games' presence where I can not use a modded console to play it. I can not use Xbox Live; I have modded my console! So if Microsoft would even deliver those games to me on the traditional Xbox, I would still be explicitly prevented from using Live, and thus I would be prevented from buying the game. In a situation like this, I do not feel compelled to find some way around their restrictions; they obviously don't want my money.

The really sad thing is that all these game companies could trivially see actual revenues from the ROM scene. Here's how: Just sell licenses to play the games in emulation. Send the purchaser a paper certificate they can staple to their printed-out receipt. You don't even have to give them a ROM image! All you are selling them is an additional license to use something they already have. You're not supplying it, so in most states you won't have to offer any warranty protection. And you simply don't sell it in those states in which you would have to; it's a small part of your market, and those who really want them can get someone in another state to buy it on their behalf, or they can do it while they're in another state. Users can get the ROM images from various websites; and you can start an affiliate program so that those websites are motivated to push your license product. The total cost for implementing such a thing would be minimal; the biggest cost is probably paying your legal department to dick you around and tell you all the reasons you shouldn't do it for a while.

Re:Let's be Honest Here (1)

Jaqenn (996058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19656381)

Just sell licenses to play the games in emulation. Send the purchaser a paper certificate they can staple to their printed-out receipt. You don't even have to give them a ROM image! All you are selling them is an additional license to use something they already have.
I'd mod you up, but I already posted in this section, so I have to resort to giving you a glowing reply instead. This is a great idea. I've never thought of it before, and I'm stunned that it's not already being done. I'd buy such a license in a heartbeat (well, in the $5 - $10 price range anyway). I wonder if one reason it's not currently done is from fear that it could interfere with the ability of the industry to take down ROM sites.

Re:Let's be Honest Here (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19656483)

I wonder if one reason it's not currently done is from fear that it could interfere with the ability of the industry to take down ROM sites.

I don't think it would matter. Copyright infringement is copyright infringement. It doesn't require you to go after people to keep your copyright, and unlike technology the fact that there is substantial non-infringing use (or potential for same) doesn't mean diddly.

The most plausible explanation to my mind is that they anticipate a non-zero cost for sorting out who owns what IP and has license to distribute for what purposes.

Frankly it wouldn't be hard to offer the rom dump download, the very largest rom sets are what, 64MB or something, pre-compression? Charge per-megabyte in addition to per-title to defray your bandwidth costs, and you've dealt with the bulk of the problems. a ROM dump for every console game for every system 16 bit and older will fit on a relatively small hard disk (tiny by modern standards.) So the download server isn't going to have to be a monster or anything.

Re:Let's be Honest Here (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654423)

Seriously, though - do you really think that you can pirate games just because their original manufacturer or licenser is not making the hardware required to play them?

Well, yeah. The purpose of copyright is make more works available. It's a temporary monopoly granted by the public. If a work is instead not available then that monopoly should also not be available.

I realize this is notion not in accord with current copyright law. I also think copyright law has ceased being for the benefit of the people. If a law is not good for the populace it ought to be changed.

Re:Let's be Honest Here (1)

yamiyasha (1119417) | more than 7 years ago | (#19657205)

What about abandonware

Since the games isn't in production, sold, nor updated after 3 years it is considered abandoned

Re:Let's be Honest Here (1)

orkysoft (93727) | more than 7 years ago | (#19654795)

So guns that have both legitimate uses (target practice) and illegal uses (murder) are allowed, yet modchips that have both legitimate uses (homebrew) and illegal uses (copyright infringement) are banned?

That was my point.

Re:Let's be Honest Here (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652755)

Yes, modchips could be used for some legitimate, non-piracy purpose, like homebrew. But so far, I haven't seen it in real life.

I have. I see consoles regularly modded to remove region-lockouts so the owner can play his legally-purchased Japanese-only releases of video games.

The now-defunct Dreamcast is a prime example of this sort of modchipping. It would be worlds easier to simply burn a rip of the GD-ROM onto a self-booting CD-ROM. (Yeah, piracy is pretty gosh-durn easy on that platform.) Yet quite a few people I know make the effort to use a special bootdisk to load the game (works about 90% of the time), mod their console to remove the region lockouts (works 100% AFAIK), or import a foreign console to play the game (which requires a TV converter and everything!).

So there are quite a few honest modchippers. Personally, I can't see screwing up a perfectly good console just to play a few extra games, but then I'm not really a hardcore gamer. :)

Re:Let's be Honest Here (1)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653745)

It screws people like me who don't mod, who purchase games legitimately who shoulder the burden of these freeloaders.

I'm not defending this guy, but I don't think you're paying more because of guys like this. Games sell for what they can get. The price isn't, say, $59.95 (or whatever) because it's the result of some complex cost analysis, but rather because that's what they've found people are willing to pay.

The other possibility is that there would be more games available. That's a lot less clear, but I doubt the small percentage of people with modded boxes would have otherwise spent enough money to make that difference.

Re:Mod Chips shouldn't be illegal (1)

neersign (956437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652411)

I am all for guns and modchips (XBMC is the only reason I bought a Xbox), but let me offer this: Should a drug dealer be arrested for selling drugs? Sure, we have laws that say it is illegal to sell drugs, but the logic is to go after the source to cut off the supply.

Personally, I think that as soon as the hardware is purchased it should no longer be controlled by MS. I own the hardware, I can do what I want with it. Since it is currently legal to buy modchips, it should be legal to own modchips, it should be legal to install mod chips, and it should be legal to own a console with a modchip installed. Where I think the current laws should draw the line is at the firmware on the chip or the software run on the console. If the firmware uses MS's code or is compiled with MS's SDK, for instance, I think that could be seen as illegal. But, if the chip has a 100% legal bios, like the Cromwell bios, then I think that chip should be 100% legal. And it should be 100% legal to run software like Linux with a mod chip installed.

Re:Mod Chips shouldn't be illegal (1)

Joshwaa (1103819) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652775)

The difference is that drugs have /no/ legitimate use, as opposed to guns and modchips, which can at least be argued to be used for legitimate purposes.

Re:Mod Chips shouldn't be illegal (1)

Dr. Smoove (1099425) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653833)

Some would argue that their drugs do have legitimate uses, like curing headaches, or relieving pressure in the eye, etc. I think getting ripped though, is as legitimate as it gets.

Re:Mod Chips shouldn't be illegal (1)

neersign (956437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19657339)

that is just your opinion. some people argue that guns and modchips have no legitimate purpose, too. the question is, where do you draw the line.

Re:Mod Chips shouldn't be illegal (1)

BUL2294 (1081735) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652545)

should I be disallowed to by a mod chip simply because I "could" pirate games with it?
Should I be disallowed from buying alcohol because I "could" get into a drunken bar fight? Should I be disallowed from buying a car because I "could" hit an old lady crossing the street? Honestly, I don't see the difference...

Re:Mod Chips shouldn't be illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19653461)

I think a better analogy would be that getting a mod chip installed in your console is like taking your rifle to a gun dealer to have a full automatic conversion done. I'm sure it's possible to justify either one if you try hard enough, but it would be pretty difficult to convince the average person that you're modifying them for purely legal purposes.

Re:Mod Chips shouldn't be illegal (1)

dasOp (781405) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653611)

This sort of implies that either guns have no use at all except breaking the law (and a fair amount of people hold that opinion) or that modchips have a wide range of use besides breaking the law.

/me waits for the mod-chip addendum to the castle doctrine

Preloaded XBox 360 hard drives? (2)

despisethesun (880261) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651781)

I might be reading a little too much into the summary, but can you run 360 games from the hard drive now? I haven't really been following the XBox 360 mod "scene", but that was one of my favourite things about my modded XBox. It's incredibly convenient.

Not possible to run stuff off xbox 360 hdd.. (1)

nickfd (1001272) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652341)

No, it's not possible to run unsigned code or homebrew on the 360. It hasn't been, and probably won't ever be possible until we can find a way to break the keys, or the dependence on the cryptographic keys contained within the 360. Pretty much all that the mods are doing is spoofing the PFI (Physical Format Information), DMI (Disc Manufacturer Information, SS (Stealth Sectors), and video.iso (a short video) to the original information that's offset to a different spot on the disc. In layman's terms, it pretends that you're running a storebought xbox360dvd with all of its original disc information (ie: disc stamped in kanagawa, japan) while in fact you are running a verbatim dvd9.

Re:Not possible to run stuff off xbox 360 hdd.. (1)

BLKMGK (34057) | more than 7 years ago | (#19653159)

And you would be INCORRECT. It is currently not possible to run unsigned homebrew within the VM however it IS possible to break the VM and run *native* Linux if you have an older firmware flash. Efforts are underway to further break the platform and while it's got a ways to go it's slowly getting there - yeah I bought a couple of 360 with the old flash just for this but I'll admit I've not done much with them. I actually updated one but the other is being reserved for whatever hacking trouble I can get into with it down the road. :-) I own multiple older XBOX with XBMC on them as multimedia boxes and am hoping to do the same with the 360 or the new XBMC Linux port.

Suggested reading http://www.free60.org/wiki/Main_Page [free60.org]

Bully for the police! (1, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651841)

Have to nip these little hooligans in the bud! One day they're modding consoles, the next they're building suicide vests for bombers. It's a slippery slope, I tell you!

He's not the only stupid one (3, Funny)

Jaqenn (996058) | more than 7 years ago | (#19651931)

Advertising on Craigs list is pretty dumb. I have a story that may match it:

In my little college town, there was a guy who owned his own small business, doing mostly PC repairs / upgrades. He acquired a reputation in my geeky-friend circle as being a little shady and a lot overpriced.

Apparently he also started modding XBoxes on the side. I met a neighbor that had one that he'd worked on, and as a result of the mod you'd get an extra splash screen when booting your XBox. I'm futzing the details, but the splash screen said something like this:

This console modded by Bob's Smalltown PC Shop!
I'll mod your console too for $35!
Contact me at 1234 Main St, (999)-999-9999.


I was dumbfounded that he'd leave such evidence on something that he had to have known was illegal. It made me want to buy one and forward it to Microsoft just for spite, because it seemed a tragic injustice that someone could do something so stupid and never have to deal with the results.

I never got around to it, though, because then he skipped town without paying the last X weeks of back wages to his employees. As far as I know no-one ever found him, but I didn't pay much attention after the first bit of news.

ESA = Entertainment Software Association (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19652077)

ESA = Entertainment Software Association

(Damn you for making me RTFA to find that out!)

Good Lord ! RTFA (0)

DarthTeufel (751532) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652313)

I really think nobody reads the article or even understands law in general... It's illegal to develop something whose purpose is to undermine copy protection. Mod chips are designed to do that. Case closed.

Re:Good Lord ! RTFA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19652435)

No, it's illegal to sell something with no -other- legitimate purpose than to undermine copy protection. I don't believe it's considered a circumvention of copy protection to play games for other region's consoles, which is the major purpose of a mod chip (i.e. playing Japanese games on a NA console).

Re:Good Lord ! RTFA (1)

DarthTeufel (751532) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655691)

But...lets look at how mod chips are used. While I'm sure there is a very very very small market for playing Japanese games on a NA console), I believe that the vast majority of mod-chips are used for illegal purposes.

Re:Good Lord ! RTFA (1)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652525)

I thought it was only illegal to distribute or sell it. I thought I was free to develop anything I want. In any case its moot, because you can show a list of legitimate uses for modded equipment.

Re:Good Lord ! RTFA (1)

neersign (956437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652539)

the mod chip doesn't undermine copy protection, the firmware on the modchip does. On the Xbox, at least, you can install different firmwares that enable you to do different things. I do not believe that all firmwares are illegal, like the Cromwell bios from the Xbox Linux project. So, I would argue that a modchip with this 100% legal bios would be 100% legal.

Re:Good Lord ! RTFA (1)

DarthTeufel (751532) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655655)

Correct... and I'm sure the mod chips seized had Cromwell's bios on it.

Re:Good Lord ! RTFA (1)

neersign (956437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19657437)

you're sure they had the Cromwell bios on them or you assume they had the Cromwell bios on them or are you attempting sarcasm?

European Space Agency? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19652959)

Why would the European Space Agency care about modded xboxes? Did they need some extra processors for their rockets?!

ESA?! (0, Redundant)

rbanffy (584143) | more than 7 years ago | (#19652961)

For a second, I wondered what the hell the European Space Agency had against a console modder...

Mod chips. (1)

Xoltri (1052470) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655587)

Where I live in Edmonton Canada you can get mod chips at a local asian supermarket. Just thought I'd throw that out there.

Re:Mod chips. (1)

Xoltri (1052470) | more than 7 years ago | (#19655615)

Forgot to mention they have them on display in a glass case alongside cell phone accessories and the like.

I'd start weightlifting now (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 7 years ago | (#19657215)

10 felony counts related to selling pirated games and modding consoles."

Yeah, but will it earn him the respect of rapists and murderers who might only have four or five felony counts.
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