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Federal Agents Raid Homes for Modchips

samzenpus posted about 7 years ago | from the throw-away-the-key dept.

Security 537

Lunatrik writes "Invoking the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, Federal Custom's Agents have raided over 30 homes and businesses looking to confiscate so-called 'mod chips', or other devices that allow the playback of pirated video games. This raises an important question: Are legitimate backup copies of a piece of software you own illegal under the DMCA?"

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Bogus question. (0)

PipingSnail (1112161) | about 7 years ago | (#20083965)

Why is it an important question? Legitimate backup copies have nothing to do with pirated software.

Re:Bogus question. (4, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | about 7 years ago | (#20084013)

It's an important question because that's the motivation for mod chips... so that you can run games on CDs that are not published by an official publisher. This description includes games copied from Blockbuster rentals as well as your own games that are copied for traditionally acceptable use such as "I want my kids to play from the backup because the original is expensive!"

The DMCA has done much to close that hole in the game-seller's net.

Re:Bogus question. (4, Interesting)

dattaway (3088) | about 7 years ago | (#20084073)

I have a modchip on my Nintendo DS. I don't use it to play games. I have NEVER played a game on it. So why do I have it? So I can run Linux on it. I have no interest playing games, but I do have an interest in a unique hardware device. Should the FBI raid my house?

If they did raid my and drag me into court, I would ask my legal counsel why small portable computers with good battery life is non-existant, while gaming consoles with much more features are. Something is wrong with the market in my opinion. Should it be illegal for me to have the technical possibility of running a rogue game? Should they give me 20 years in FPMITA Prison for it?

Re:Bogus question. (5, Insightful)

cliffski (65094) | about 7 years ago | (#20084335)

i don't think your question will get any response other than a dismissal as irrelevant. Dissatisfaction with the market does not act as an excuse to break the law. There is nobody stopping you starting our own computer hardware company, and making the device you describe. The people making the device you modded have done so on the assumption that they can sell complimentary products for it (games). We all know this. They designed, financed and made the product, it's up to them to determine the terms under which they offer it for sale. If you do not like the terms, don't buy one. Punish restrictive practices through the market, not by breaking the law.

Re:Bogus question. (0, Offtopic)

MBraynard (653724) | about 7 years ago | (#20084365)

Wow. Still not modded down for 'too much common sense.' Well said, well said.

Re:Bogus question. (5, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | about 7 years ago | (#20084517)

There is nobody stopping you starting our own computer hardware company, and making the device you describe.
There is. Patents.

Re:Bogus question. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084545)

it's up to them to determine the terms under which they offer it for sale

Scope to determine terms is not and should not be unlimited. Once something is sold, it's not theirs any more. That is right at the heart of "selling". If they didn't want people to tinker, they shouldn't have offered the device for sale. It's not our responsibility to shoulder the cost of a crummy choice of business model and it's unjust for the law to try and push it onto us.

Punish restrictive practices through the market, not by breaking the law

Bullshit. They're writing the laws. Obedience to unjust law is a fool's game. While copyright and patent exist, a free market doesn't.

Re:Bogus question. (5, Insightful)

dattaway (3088) | about 7 years ago | (#20084627)

If you do not like the terms, don't buy one. Punish restrictive practices through the market, not by breaking the law.

Say what? Are you saying "It Is A Violation Of Federal Law To Use This Product Inconsistant With Its Labeling?" Is it also against the law to combine vinegar and baking soda in the kitchen? Is it against the law to use a screwdriver as a hammer? This government is really starting to annoy me if its telling me I can only do what was labeled on the original package.

Re:Bogus question. (-1, Flamebait)

cliffski (65094) | about 7 years ago | (#20084705)

no. get some perspective. hammers and screwdrivers do not have an end use licence agreement. yes of course it is up to the seller to determine the terms of the sale. its called a contract. Are you suggesting that all contracts are unenforceable? If you rent a house, you sign a form to say you will not do X, Y and Z, maybe not to have any pets, or leave the house unattended. This is not evil it is proof their *is* a free market. You are suggesting that sellers of all products be prevented from setting any conditions on the sale of their products. I guess you would also mean that a EULA should be unenforceable, and thus abolish copyright when it comes to allowing you to make copies of digital products? This is often suggested by people who have never actually created a product...

If I invent product X, who are you, or the government to dictate the terms under which I profit from my invention? The l;egaility of mod chipping is hardly a secret.
If you don't like it, go invent your own product and stick a big "mod chip friendly" sticker on it.

Re:Bogus question. (1)

Yfrwlf (998822) | about 7 years ago | (#20084495)

No. You should have the freedom to do what you want with your electronics, this is all totally ridiculous, and you definitely shouldn't be declared guilty before proven innocent. The U.S. is becoming a police state.

Re:Bogus question. (0, Troll)

cliffski (65094) | about 7 years ago | (#20084737)

if you are going to complain that its a police state because you cannot play pirated xbox games, I can only imagine that things aren't so bad there. people in real police states would be sickened to hear the term used to describe someone enforcing clearly stated, and widely known copyright law.

Re:Bogus question. (1)

Balthisar (649688) | about 7 years ago | (#20084673)

Same here -- I've got three modded Xboxes for the express purpose of streaming MythTV throughout my house. XBMC and XBMCMythTV are the only things that run on them, and wouldn't be able to run if not for the mods.

Re:Bogus question. (1)

PipingSnail (1112161) | about 7 years ago | (#20084315)

If you've copied them from a rental CD that is not a legitimate copy. You won't destroy that copy when you return the rental will you?

Re:Bogus question. (1)

jamar0303 (896820) | about 7 years ago | (#20084603)

You can rent CDs? Where from?

Of course, I live in China, so I don't bother with rentals or pirating- real, licensed CDs cost far less here than in America (some CD singles only cost $2 and albums usually run $5-$7). But the "not for distribution outside Mainland China" limits what I can do with the CDs if I don't want them anymore (apparently eBay counts as "distribution"). Oh, no DRM either (some older Avex or Sony Japan CDs have it, I think, but it's easily bypassed with a Mac).

Re:Bogus question. (4, Interesting)

beatmania (1136353) | about 7 years ago | (#20084455)

The "motivation" for mod chips kind of depends on the person, wouldn't you say?

I bought a Nintendo Wii on launch day when I was living in Japan, and bought 4 or 5 games for it while I was living there. I just returned to the USA about a week ago, and now I want to buy more games, but I can't, thanks to region locking. The only options I have are 1.) Buy another Wii (not really an option, as I've sunk money into the Virtual Console games), or 2.) Install a modchip. The games I want to play on my Wii are indeed published by an official publisher, just from a different region.

Does this mean I should be raided / arrested / tried in court?

I realize that a lot of people who use modchips are only out to copy everything in sight, but hasn't this kind of thing been covered in the past (Sony Corp. of America v. Universal City Studios, Inc.)?

Bogus question indeed, sirs.

Re:Bogus question. (1)

gravis777 (123605) | about 7 years ago | (#20084593)

Copyright law is much older than the DMCA. My guess is what they are claiming in these DMCA claims are that they are using modchips to break copy-protection built into the systems. Whether you are using backups of software you legally own, are playing pirated software, or running home-brewed apps, if you are using a modchip which can circumvent copy protection of the system, said modchip is illegal under the DMCA, regardless of intent.

Re:Bogus question. (2, Insightful)

Bibz (849958) | about 7 years ago | (#20084021)

Well let's say you bought a game and make a copy of it for backup. One day you lose the original so you want to use your legitimate backup, for that you need a mod-chip.
Your backup is "legal" since you bought the game and made a copy only for yourself, but you need something "illegal" (ie. the mod-chip) to play it.

Could the use of a Mod-chip only for legitimate backup be legal ? If so how do you tell if it's a legitimate backup ?

Re:Bogus question. (1)

montyzooooma (853414) | about 7 years ago | (#20084081)

But if you no longer possess the original are you legally allowed to own the backup? If another person found your mislaid original in the street and took it home with him then doesn't he actually have a better legal standing because he possesses the original even if he didn't originally buy it. You, OTOH, with no original would have a harder time defending your right to own the backup.

Anyway, isn't it the means to circumvent the DMCA they're going after and not the backups.

In that case (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084499)

you need to be playing the backup copy all the time and use the original as the source of any future backup copies. Else why is a backup copy made? You don't use it until the original is gone and when that happens, you say you don't have a right to use it.

An this has got to be bogus for another reason: if the are selling a LICENSE and not the product (else how can they put restrictions on your property) as they keep saying, then the license wasn't stolen, just the physical object. You still have that license.

Re:Bogus question. (1)

OAB_X (818333) | about 7 years ago | (#20084647)

No, a mod chip is "illegal" because you are "circumventing copy protection" which under the DMCA is illegal.

The copy protection is: no non-original games.

And seeing as how you don't own the game, but only a license to play the game, it doesn't matter anyway.

Re:Bogus question. (1)

djupedal (584558) | about 7 years ago | (#20084039)

Correct.

Either a copy is legitimate or it isn't.

One million and one stories floating around and our friendly glue-sniffing /. editors (?) skim off something like this.

The feds ran a similar bust back in 2001 or 02, as I recall*. They are tied to coincide with Federal budget announcements and chest-beating by whatever politician needs the publicity at the moment. Give it a few days and the other shoe will drop - you'll see.

I recall because I'd purchased a mod chip, off the internet, from one of the major suppliers in the USA. I had it shipped to my office in South Korea, but the feds never bothered to look me up. And yes, I'm sad over it :)

Re:Bogus question. (2, Interesting)

mrjb (547783) | about 7 years ago | (#20084045)

The (somewhat rhetorical) question is, did they raid those homes to find *one* mod chip or whole bunches of them? You don't need to have hundreds of mod chips to play back your own backups, after all. Unless, of course, said mod chip owners want to claim those mod chips were all backups of their *original* mod chip...

Re:Bogus question. (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20084199)

Is it "more illegal" to own 200 modchips than it is to own one? Are modchips like drugs by now?

Re:Bogus question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084715)

In the sense that one modchip probably means its just for you, where as a large quantity suggests you're making some kind of business out of it, then yes, it does. I await your next slippery-slope/strawman argument with baited breath!

What about imports? (5, Insightful)

Moraelin (679338) | about 7 years ago | (#20084303)

What about imports? Now I'm told that at least the PS3 is no longer region-locked, but the PS2 was and so were a heck of a lot of PS1 units. (Although more loosely into PAL and NTSC regions.)

I'm in Europe which is mostly PAL, and which also didn't get half of the PS1 games available in the USA in NTSC.

So here's the deal: half the game I owned were US imports. None burned/"backed-up", all original CDs, with manual and box and everything. Sony got my money for every single one of them. Money which they otherwise wouldn't have gotten at all, since they never released those games down here. Yeah, that's the kind of an evil pirate I am: I went and gave Sony some money against their will.

Sony also always acted as if imports are piracy. Again, we're not talking about burned CDs, we're talking units sold. Apparently the fact that I bought some games from them, which they otherwise wouldn't have sold me, counted as piracy to them. Apparently it's soooo much of a similarity between an inconvenience like "yeah, but it screws up our marketting data of how much units were sold in each territory" (which is all that game imports ever did) and pirating that game.

Where I'm getting at is: it's not as simple as "modchips == piracy." There are perfectly non-piracy uses of modchips. One is mentioned in the summary (you'll ideally want your little kid to play with a copy, not to scratch the $60 disc) and another one I just gave you now.

Plus, there's the whole moral issue of criminalizing people for owning a tool, as opposed to actually committing the infraction. If you still don't see the problem, think this: if you're a guy, chances are you have all the equipment you'd ever need to be a rapist. It doesn't mean you're automatically one. How about looking for people who actually committed a crime, instead of those who would technically have the means.

And it seems to me that that's the whole problem here: the summary mentions raiding for mod-chips, not for burned DVDs.

Re:What about imports? (2, Informative)

Broken scope (973885) | about 7 years ago | (#20084561)

There is no moral quandary, if you have the means, you obviously will commit a crime.

Where is the rock you have been living under, are there any good ones near by that I can move too? Cause something tells me its a hell of a lot more pleasant under there.

Re:What about imports? (1)

Applekid (993327) | about 7 years ago | (#20084579)

The problem is that the DMCA does not make the distinction between bypassing a copying mechanism because it's a hardware-enforced possibly unconscionable company-imposed territorial profit-maximizing restriction and bypassing a copying mechanism because it makes piracy simply possible.

Re:Bogus question. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084319)

Look on the bright side, we can look for a new and improved DMCA #2 under Billary #2 in 2008!.

Re:Bogus question. (1)

robcfg (1005359) | about 7 years ago | (#20084453)

I find it quite ludicrous. Do you imagine a bunch of FBI agents at your door yelling :"Put your console on the floor! Open it slowly! Oh my God! He's got a modchip!!!!" Anyway games are too expensive. Just doing some calculations, a 60$ game equals 3.75% of my salary. I like to know that the game I'm buying is a good game before buying it.

Re:Bogus question. (1)

PipingSnail (1112161) | about 7 years ago | (#20084645)

You earn $1600 a year?

Again? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20083969)

Not to troll or anything, but isn't this a tech website?
Why is every other story about politics/tinfoil hat/whatnot ?
This is IMO getting truly overblown.

Re:Again? (3, Insightful)

Silver Sloth (770927) | about 7 years ago | (#20084177)

News For Nerds
And, judging by the number of responses, these subjects are exactly what we Nerds are interested in hearing about.

Re:Again? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084581)

"Not to troll or anything"

The mating call of the troll.

We've been over this (4, Informative)

Rogerborg (306625) | about 7 years ago | (#20083971)

The DMCA doesn't prohibit having a backup, just creating, obtaining or distributing the tools to make or to use one. That's the risible position that the DMCA puts us in.

Re:We've been over this (0, Flamebait)

conspirator57 (1123519) | about 7 years ago | (#20084283)

But they assured us it wouldn't impact legitimate customers, I mean "law-abiding citizens"! How could you have doubted the benign motives of our popularly elected government?

Seriously, though, I'd say someone in the executive is looking for a promotion. Based on where campaign donations go, I'd say they've read the tea leaves that say the GOP is out in 2008 and are even now currying favor with those funded by hollywood, etc.

How much enforcement has there been of this before now?

$3 billion a year? (1, Interesting)

mtmra70 (964928) | about 7 years ago | (#20083983)

It is interesting that they say pirated games cost the industry $3 billion a year. Since most systems, I mean Microsoft, is pretty good about blocking online play (or online connection) of modded systems and copied games, they can not claim that as a loss. *If* I download a game today, I am fairly confident that A) my system will be banned B) the game will not work online.

So really, Microsoft is doing pretty good about creating a system that is always online. If a few years from now your console HAS to be online, the copied games industry will shrink even more. Sure, people will be able to change the packets, blah blah blah, but where we stand today compared to 4 years ago the software companies are far better off.

Re:$3 billion a year? (1)

Chmcginn (201645) | about 7 years ago | (#20084015)

I don't think Microsoft, Sony, or anyone really wants to make a game console that has to be connected to the internet, especially the bandwidth hogs they have now. It limits their market too much. They'll add a million features to entice people, but I think they know they'd lose a lot of buisness if we couldn't play single-player games without having the console connected.

Re:$3 billion a year? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20084233)

Well, it worked for an OS to be connected to the 'net at least once every 6 months, I don't think it's far fetched that they'll require the same for game consoles soon, too. It needn't be a permanent connection, can you see people using modchips when they have to go online once a month (and get "updates" crammed down their throat), or do you think that would be too much a deterrent with WiFi becoming more and more mainstream and consoles (see Wii for reference) being able to use WiFi instead of cable based networking?

Of course Not (4, Interesting)

Kranfer (620510) | about 7 years ago | (#20083989)

I am going to have to say no... The reason is.... Media degrades over time, and get scratched to hell and such. I own over 500 DVDs, however some of them are "unwatchable" either from storing them in those cheesey folder cases or just letting them sit around on my desk... Some of them are backed up some I bought anew... But I think making personal backups of software SHOULD be legal.... the companies that make this stuff could make money off this by selling an option to make backups for say... a dollar per backup and has to be registered to yourself with a separate backup serial key... DMCA goes too far sometimes....

Re:Of course Not (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 7 years ago | (#20084123)

My Audio CD collection contains a fair number of CD-R discs in original sleeves, because the original discs got damaged too much (usually still plays, but with "dents" and hic-ups). So I just burned my own MP3 rips to a quality CD-R and use the backup disc. Proof enough for me that backups are both required and a good solution to the problem of damage to the physical carrier of the purchased media.

Re:Of course Not (1)

MaxDuo (958350) | about 7 years ago | (#20084367)

I know some people often do need backups due to poor care taken with their discs (leaving them on the floor, table, etc... I've seen tons of it). But I've never really thought I needed any backup as mine instantly go into the player or in it's case and nowhere else.

Re:Of course Not (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084237)

the DMCA does not got too far sometimes. The corrupt individuals that interpret it and use it for their ill gotten gains do.
The DMCA is like a bullet, they are perfectly safe until someone puts it in the gun and aims it at your head.

It's the morally bankrupt and corrupt that use the DMCA this way, and it's sad that the US residents are not rioting in the streets that the government has such blatantly corrupt people in it.

Re:Of course Not (1)

Dog-Cow (21281) | about 7 years ago | (#20084417)

And like a bullet, its only purpose is to harm.

Re:Of course Not (1)

jointm1k (591234) | about 7 years ago | (#20084553)

Except this bullet is not just a single bullet. It is more like a claymore mine.

Re:Of course Not (2)

HitekHobo (1132869) | about 7 years ago | (#20084433)

I wonder why a rider wasn't put into the DMCA forcing all content providers to provide free replacement copies upon request? Oh right... the content providers wrote the bill.

welp; (4, Funny)

sniepre (517796) | about 7 years ago | (#20083991)

I guess it's back to stealing games the old fashioned way - under a shirt.

Seriously. Persecution of the hackers only makes them stronger.

Not really a legitimate question... (5, Insightful)

Chmcginn (201645) | about 7 years ago | (#20083993)

Since making backups wasn't criminalized by the DMCA.

If you could make a perfect 1-to-1 copy of a DVD, and have it run, that would still be legal. But since that doesn't work, because commercially available DVD are neutered, you have to crack the encryption - which is what is illegal.

Re:Not really a legitimate question... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20084265)

Making backups was not outlawed per se. But its spirit, and the way it is implemented, pretty much outlaws it. It's like telling you you may go wherever you want, but must not step on red paint, then everything but your home is painted red. You're still free to go wherever you can go, you just can't go anywhere anymore.

Re:Not really a legitimate question... (2, Informative)

DreadPiratePizz (803402) | about 7 years ago | (#20084711)

1 to 1 copies don't work? That's odd, because I've made a disk image of a DVD in OS X and burned it (using a dual layer burner), and had it play absolutely fine in a DVD player. Not once did I crack the CSS.

No Clue (-1, Troll)

fozzmeister (160968) | about 7 years ago | (#20083995)

You have no clue what your talking about.

DMCA It's about tools to crack (which it makes illegal), it's got nothing to do with your right to have a backup copy.

Talk about no clue (3, Insightful)

the grace of R'hllor (530051) | about 7 years ago | (#20084135)

What use is your right to a backup copy if you cannot use the copy, ever? You have to break one law to make use of your rights guaranteed in another law, and that is ridiculous.

Re:No Clue (3, Informative)

ICLKennyG (899257) | about 7 years ago | (#20084187)

Troll much?

The DMCA goes hand in hand with Fair Use [wikipedia.org] principles which have time and again been upheld by the US Supreme Court. It criminalizes tools necessary to implement freedoms upheld by previous USSC decisions. The law goes so far as to not only make telling anyone that a Sharpie can beat Sony's copy protection, but make the magic marker its self illegal. It makes the ability to gain a backup copy illegal, and thus in the great 4th grade tradition: 'You have no clue!'

The DMCA was an end-run around fair use (2, Insightful)

Jafafa Hots (580169) | about 7 years ago | (#20084243)

But that's the point. The media industry HATES fair use, always has. They tried to make it illegal in the late 70's and got their asses handed to them in the courts. So they found a way to eliminate fair use by making an end run around it. They found a way to make it illegal to create the backup that you can legally own.

Re:No Clue (3, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 7 years ago | (#20084257)

AFAIK, "Fair Use" isn't a right, but a "legally defensible position" in that the court will accept "fair use"-class usage as a sufficient excuse. As such, you actually do not have a right to have a backup copy. Furthermore, fair use requires such a backup to be made by and for the owner of the original media. Since DMCA blocks you any way to do so yourself, this basically implies any and all backups of copy-protected media is illegally obtained either because you didn't make it yourself (not "fair use") or used illegal means to make it (DMCA). The heart of the problem is that "fair use" usage isn't a legal right, otherwise publishers would've been obligated to provide means for the people to excersize that right.

Re:No Clue, back at ya (1)

Raineer (1002750) | about 7 years ago | (#20084259)

You're the one with no clue.

Let me know how you can play your backup copies without a mod-chip or "magic disk".

Re:No Clue, back at ya (1)

fozzmeister (160968) | about 7 years ago | (#20084567)

The practicality of the issue, is _nothing_ to do with the law.

Re:No Clue (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20084293)

The right to copy anything that's no encrypted is moot if everything is encrypted. If it WAS possible to create a 1:1 copy of a game, copy protection and all, it would be quite ok and in sync with fair use. What makes the DMCA break the right of fair use is the fact that exactly that is impossible for most content.

Re:No Clue (4, Insightful)

tinkerghost (944862) | about 7 years ago | (#20084341)

You are correct. You may own as many backups as you would like as part of 'Fair Use' which the DMCA explicitly states it is not meant to interfier with, and the MPAA & RIAA lawyers argued in front of congress as being acceptable fair use. However, the DMCA does make creating, selling, distributing, and importing the tools to make backups illegal. Additionally, mod chips, which would allow you to use your legal backup - made with illegal tools - are also illegal. So, you are perfectly within your rights to own a backup, so long as you don't posses the tools to make it or the tools to actually use it.

So, while the DMCA explicitly states that your fair use rights are not to be hindered by the DMCA, it simultaniously blocks your ability to impliment those rights by outlawing the tools required to do so.

WTF? (5, Insightful)

Slithe (894946) | about 7 years ago | (#20083997)

The fed doesn't seem to want to raid businesses for hiring illegal aliens, but they spend their time raiding businesses and homes for having mod chips. I thought this line was especially funny. [quote]"Illicit devices like the ones targeted today are created with one purpose in mind, subverting copyright protections," Julie L. Myers, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for ICE, said in a release. "These crimes cost legitimate businesses billions of dollars annually and facilitate multiple other layers of criminality, such as smuggling, software piracy and money laundering."[/quote] There may be a tenuous connection to smuggling (i.e. bootleg video games disks), but how in the hell do modchips facilitate money laundering. This is just laughable, if it wasn't so pathetic.

Money Laundering (5, Funny)

camperdave (969942) | about 7 years ago | (#20084053)

how in the hell do modchips facilitate money laundering.

Perhaps because people with mod chips are so engrossed in playing their pirate games that they don't empty their pockets thoroughly before dumping their clothes in the wash.

Re:Money Laundering (1)

that IT girl (864406) | about 7 years ago | (#20084313)

yes, and they're not going to white-collar resort prison. No, no, no. They're going to federal pound-me-in-the-ass prison! :D

Re:WTF? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20084325)

Simple. Trade 101 teaches you that.

Illegal aliens work in the country for cheap. For dirt cheap. They don't care about minimum wage or labour laws. And if, where should they go? Court? They also get the "jobs" nobody else would want, because it's risky or so crappy paid that even the burger flipping crowd sneers at them. And if a company doesn't have to give you gloves or goggles when you're cleaning that fluorine tank, they safe a lot. Should that immigrant get sick because of it, well, dump him, next is already waiting for the job. This is good for business.

You burning CDs on the other hand is bad for business.

Any questions remaining?

Beg to differ.... (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | about 7 years ago | (#20084449)

The fed doesn't seem to want to raid businesses for hiring illegal aliens,...

Sorry, but they do raid businesses for illegal aliens [dhs.gov]

That's just one story. I'm trying to find the stories about the mass raids here in Georgia that went after illegal farm workers. Boy, were the farmers pissed!

Some are going home anyway with the slowdown in the construction market anyway, do I guess the ICE guys are getting bored and justifying their jobs?

This sounds very much like.... (2, Insightful)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 7 years ago | (#20084003)

Prohibition in the Roaring Twenties. "Bootleg" discs, Elliot Ness - like tactics. It will never work, it will just alienate an entire nation again.

Re:This sounds very much like.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084263)

Prohibition never worked, but then, it never went away either. They just changed the name and the list of recreational drugs that it covered. Most of the prisoners in the US were convicted under prohibition laws. Perhaps that is the future for DMCA violators.

Re:This sounds very much like.... (2, Informative)

couchslug (175151) | about 7 years ago | (#20084379)

"it will just alienate an entire nation again."

Er, no. The "entire nation" can still buy legal games, and the fair-use folks don't have political pull.
The only way to influence the game companies is a boycott that addicted consumers will never support.

Thanks, Clinton, for your precious DMCA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084011)

Hope you're happy, liberals.

I feel safer already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084017)

This is great! that means they have won the war on terrorism!

If they are using federal agents to raid homes for modchips, then that means they have captured all the terrorists out there and the world is once again safe.

the Feds would never do somethign frivilous such as waste american resources on such a silly task when the entire country could be blow up at any moment!

YAY! no more terrorism! I'm scheduling my afganastan 3 week luxury tour right now!

Homeland Security (5, Insightful)

KiloByte (825081) | about 7 years ago | (#20084031)

From TFA:

"Illicit devices like the ones targeted today are created with one purpose in mind, subverting copyright protections," Julie L. Myers, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for ICE, said in a release. "These crimes cost legitimate businesses billions of dollars annually and facilitate multiple other layers of criminality, such as smuggling, software piracy and money laundering."
From Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] :

The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), commonly known in the US as Homeland Security, is a Cabinet department of the Federal Government of the United States with the responsibility of protecting the territory of the United States from terrorist attacks and responding to natural disasters.
Shouldn't they be sued for wasting taxpayers money for doing things they are not authorized to do? And yeah, even though I'm a Polack I did pay a tribute^Wtax to the US treasury once, so it's my money too.

But oh wait... comparing them to the Commissariat of Homeland Security (KGB), Bureau of Security (UB) or Securitate, I should be thankful they're not participating in mass murders... yet.

uhm, not DEPARTMENT of homeland security. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084321)

the department of homeland security is not the same thing as the homesec division of ICE. can't believe you got modded up for this.

Re:uhm, not DEPARTMENT of homeland security. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084537)

"for", not "of". ICE is a part of the DHS.

Katamari Damacy - legitimate use (3, Insightful)

Richard W.M. Jones (591125) | about 7 years ago | (#20084043)

Since the original Katamari Damacy isn't available at all in the UK, I had to import it from Japan and use a PS2 modchip to play it. The follow-up game was released in Europe months after appearing in US/Japan, so I also imported that one.

The fact that I could do this at all shows that there is no technical reason for the region coding in this game - it's purely an illegal tactic to control market prices.

Rich.

Re:Katamari Damacy - legitimate use (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 7 years ago | (#20084403)

Yes, the customer is the one that suffers from this practice. And of course, no distributor is happy about it when the customer defends himself against that practice and cracks open this cartel.

Because what this allows is cross financing. If you already have a stranglehold on a market where you can gouge whatever you want because your competitors don't dare to hunt on your turf, you can take the revenue from there to make the products dirt cheap in another market where you're battling for sales. And of course this revenue model falls flat if globalization works for the customer as well as it does for the producer. If you can buy anywhere, such models crumble.

"Legitimate" (2, Informative)

cfulmer (3166) | about 7 years ago | (#20084049)

Are you talking about copies of software that are unprotected by any copy-protection scheme? If so, that's probably OK. If, however, you're talking about copies of copy-protected games, that's a different story. Their creation, at minimum, is an infringement of the DMCA (17 USC 1201(a)(1)), and your possessing them is evidence that you created them. It's vaguely conceivable that the "backup" copies are fair uses even though you had to break the law to make them, but I wouldn't bet on it.

The mod chips themselves are a pretty violation under the DMCA:

No person shall manufacture, import, offer to the public, provide, or otherwise traffic in any technology, product, service, device, component, or part thereof, that . . . is primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing protection afforded by a technological measure that effectively protects a right of a copyright owner under this title in a work or a portion thereof;

Re:"Legitimate" (1)

thedrunkensailor (992824) | about 7 years ago | (#20084423)

how are they going to stop me from photocopying books? prohibition never works

The Real Question.... (3, Insightful)

Himring (646324) | about 7 years ago | (#20084051)

This raises an important question: Are legitimate backup copies of a piece of software you own illegal under the DMCA?

I believe the more important question is: what's happening to our liberties?...

If we're not losing them in the name of fighting terrorism, then it's in the name of copyright laws. Between Hollywood and the middle east, liberty is bleeding.

Re:The Real Question.... (5, Funny)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#20084439)

Between Hollywood and the middle east, liberty is bleeding.

      Don't worry. As a physician I am qualified to tell you that all bleeding stops eventually. One way or another.

Re:The Real Question.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084607)

You whine about Liberty. What do you know about it?

Do you believe in the right of all citizens to bear arms? THAT is Liberty.

Let me axe you something (4, Funny)

0xdeadbeef (28836) | about 7 years ago | (#20084055)

This raises an important question

Don't you mean, begs the question?

Re:Let me axe you something (0)

Ri6hte0us (1136359) | about 7 years ago | (#20084677)

Oh, somebody mod this up. Haven't you people ever heard of irony?!

Games Producers Want The Best Of Both Worlds (4, Insightful)

pandrijeczko (588093) | about 7 years ago | (#20084071)

The argument that's used for mod chips is that purchasers of games should be allowed to make backup copies of them. But I don't consider that the real issue here.

Firstly, in the case of PC games (or indeed any system where games are installed to a hard drive), it should not be obligatory to have the CD or DVD in the drive to play them once installed as this creates totally unnecessary wear on the CD/DVD drive and the disc itself scratches a little more every time it's inserted or removed. Whilst I don't like the "spyware" concept of Valve's Steam, I do accept that being able to load my games on any PC I like without the disk is a good thing - though all praise to Stardock for just letting you get on and play Galactic Civilizations II without the disk once you've registered your product code with them. If every games company trusted me like Stardock does, I'd feel less inclined to rip them off at every opportunity (and, no, I don't work for Stardock).

Secondly, if your original CD/DVD goes faulty, the games company charges you for a replacement. This strikes me as wrong - if they won't let you back it up, then they should provide replacements (within a reasonable amount of time) for just the cost of postage.

Re:Games Producers Want The Best Of Both Worlds (4, Interesting)

Renraku (518261) | about 7 years ago | (#20084197)

When you buy blank media they charge you for the media.

When you buy any kind of software they charge you mainly for the licence to use the software and to get support/etc. However when you lose the media or it breaks, they want to charge you to replace the media.

So which is it? Charging us for the media or charging us for the licence? One or the other.

Re:Games Producers Want The Best Of Both Worlds (1)

blahplusplus (757119) | about 7 years ago | (#20084277)

"The argument that's used for mod chips is that purchasers of games should be allowed to make backup copies of them. But I don't consider that the real issue here."

The real issue is that consumers need a bill of rights, if they had a self-funded corporate like entity to protect their interests lots of these attempts at private tyranny would be mitigated.

The first thing is, a government body has to start treating consumers as co-owners and investors of the products they buy (i.e. invest in), this way corporations cannot say they own "exclusively" all intellectual property since consumers are also legitimate financiers (and investors in the IP's success).

This would stop companies from becoming lazy and abusing intellectual property if the public has some co-ownership and can force companies hands to release it to the public domain since they were the investors in said product and were also responsible for it's success.

Re:Games Producers Want The Best Of Both Worlds (2, Informative)

spyrochaete (707033) | about 7 years ago | (#20084555)

I think Steam is about the best case scenario we could hope to expect. Yes they keep track of what you're playing and for how long, but they use this information to benefit game design as well. Check out the fascinating Half Life 2: Episode One statistics [steampowered.com] for an idea of how Valve makes the most of this technology to observe players' in-game behaviour to assist in designing future products.

Another thing I love about Steam is the generosity of distribution model. You can download any paid-for product as many times as you wish, no matter how huge it is. You can also compact installation data to CD or DVD-sized archives for your own storage if you don't want to wait to download it. You can have your registered copy installed on multiple computers simultaneously and can play on any of them one at a time. If you own 12 Steam games you can install all the games on 12 computers and have 12 people each log in as you and let them each play a different game. All this without wearing out your media or drives (and yes, there is an emergency offline mode that lets you play while your network is down).

The biggest flaw, of course, is that the EULA refers to you as the "Subscriber", not the "Owner". I seriously hope that my money won't go to waste if Steam folds. When 3D Realms' Triton, a similar distribution system, went under, they untethered purchased games so that they became fully owned by the purchasers.

Taxes (1)

pandrijeczko (588093) | about 7 years ago | (#20084115)

Since those same Federal Agents are financed from the taxes of US citizens, then the games companies who will be benefitting from additional sales due to the crack down on mod chips & piracy should therefore be taxed at a heavier rate in order to recover those taxes.

Re:Taxes (1)

Raineer (1002750) | about 7 years ago | (#20084229)

I agree. This story upsets me because game companies get away with so much. How is releasing a hardly-changed version every year and charging $60 *fair*? I know, "don't buy it then", and I don't.

I make backups of the games I buy the second they enter my house. At least if you own a licensed piece of software most companies will let you obtain a replacement disk for free or cheap. Gaming companies? It's another $60. I don't see how owning a mod-chip is illegal, if they can prove you are playing games you don't own I can understand that. What if you came here from Japan and want to play games based on that market?

They are acting no different than the RIAA, just threaten and scare your customers into submission. Good idea.

Re:Taxes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084347)

your lack of understanding in taxation is applaudable.
Those same taxes you wish to increase would simply be pushed onto the consumer, leading to higher game costs. Corporations do not pay taxes, consumers pay taxes, the corporations just collect and pass on the taxes to the gov in the form of embedding the taxes (including payroll and other taxes) into the cost of thier products and services. The company insures that they get thier desired profit percentage regardless of taxation. Taxes increase, price of product or service goes up to ensure the same level of profit percentage.

Or presume they do not wish to raise prices, to ensure thier profit percentage, they will reduce benefits (if any) to employees or terminate employees to offset the cost of the increased taxation.

Either way, increases in taxation only hurt the consumer and drag down the econmy.

Re:Taxes (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 7 years ago | (#20084409)

Those same taxes you wish to increase would simply be pushed onto the consumer, leading to higher game costs.

      You clearly do not understand the economics of piracy.

      Higher game costs would lead to greater piracy and diminished game sales, because they would still be easily duplicated, the desire to play them would still be there, however fewer people would justify spending a larger portion of their disposable income to purchase them legally. Especially at a time when that disposable income is shrinking due to rising fuel costs and (soon) inflation.

      Personally I'm waiting for the story of people being raided and thrown in jail for using unauthorized ink in their ink-jet printers... keep it up, you'll soon solve the illegal immigration problem. Soon no one will want to go to the US.

Hahaha... the FBI mob... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084159)

Mod Chips have sufficient legal uses like using backups of originals you purchased but which are not replaceable anymore, demos, games or demos of games you have programmed and which, you hope, might be a foundation for your future job in the video game business, and installing Linux of course.

Someone used the FBI mod (and your tax money) to molest people with incompetence. In a free country a decent lawyer should be able to fix this.

Yeah I've heard the stories about the US legal system. Thats why I like it so much in my inferior country.

Region code lock down in the digital gulag? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 7 years ago | (#20084213)

In Capitalist West Julie L. Myers is handed a dossier on you.
In Soviet Russia Julie L. Myers dossier handed to you.

Great to see they needed 'help' from the "software association and other industry members."
Ask about movies and games outside Region 1/A in the USA and its "show your papers".

while you're there... (1)

Jestermax (1078043) | about 7 years ago | (#20084225)

I guess while they're out saving the world from mod chips in game consoles maybe they could grab a few of the illegal assault weapons, drugs, pedophiles, and carjackers next door?

The search for WMDs continues... (1)

Renaissance 2K (773059) | about 7 years ago | (#20084227)

It's only a matter of time before Homeland Security gets in on the act, too, raiding the homes of 11-year-old importers looking for WMDs.

WMDs... Weapons of Mass Duplication

Re:The search for WMDs continues... (1)

Bender Unit 22 (216955) | about 7 years ago | (#20084393)

---[snip]---
"Illicit devices like the ones targeted today are created with one purpose in mind, subverting copyright protections," Julie L. Myers, assistant secretary of Homeland Security for ICE, said in a release.
---[snip]---
Aren't they already?
I am not American, so I don't fully understand the concept of the "Homeland Security" police. But they seem to cover everything lobbyists can throw their money at?

Mutually exclusive (1)

Threni (635302) | about 7 years ago | (#20084383)

> Are legitimate backup copies of a piece of software you own illegal under the DMCA?"

The question doesn't make any sense. If they're legitimate, then they're legal by their very nature. If they're illegal, then they're not legitimate. It's like asking `what happens if an irresistible force meets an unmovable object`.

False Positives? (4, Interesting)

Sasquatch6 (575574) | about 7 years ago | (#20084551)

OK, so the FBI has just gone and raided a whole bunch of places looking for mod-chips. Presumably they would be looking for installed chips in consoles they raid at homes. How are they detecting these mod chips? Are they running a program to detect modified hardware (I would have thought MS, Sony, et al. would be doing that already). If not that, then they must be physically opening the cases to find the chips... Which brings me to my ultimate point: what happens if their information proves to be faulty, and the console is found chipless. Is the owner compensated for bother? Wear and tear? Damage? Loss of warranty after the console has just been opened? One would hope that the apology would extend to some sort of written proof that the console was opened for legal purposes, so that if that 360 red-rings, they can send it back without MS complaining.

Content provider guarentee (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084591)

All of these companies that want to prevent backups should be required BY LAW to provide multiple backup copies of any content to the consumer with no questions asked and free of charge. Then there would be no need for the consumer to make backups. If I buy a DVD and I want a backup an hour later; dial a 1-800 number and the company should have one in the mail right away.

It is put up or shut up time for the content industry.

Who were the fools that voted in... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084605)

the asses who enacted this DMCA crap? Hang your head in shame, voters. A pox on both your houses. This was once a free country, so I hear.

Spam/Flood (2, Insightful)

Renraku (518261) | about 7 years ago | (#20084619)

Now that the FBI is handling this, everyone that knows their neighbor has a CD burner, mod chip, or unlocked DVD player should call and report them. After all, these things can ONLY be used to facilitate piracy.

Maybe after a few hundred thousand calls they'd lay off. Shouldn't the FBI be doing more important things anyway? Like say, busting drug rings, killin' gangsters, thwarting terrorists, and making sure that all those school teachers don't have any child molestation charges?

I don't see how busting people for having mod chips is going to help society beyond MAYBE a few video game purchases. Most of them probably got the mod chips in the first place to back up what they have or to avoid paying $59.99 for a piece of shit game full of bugs..I sure as hell wouldn't buy any more games for that generation if I couldn't make backups like I had done with all of my old ones, and I wouldn't start buying the games knowing that half of them will turn out to suck despite the hype/previews anyway.

Busting a drug ring can save many lives, buttloads of money, and make society safer. Standing on top of a pile of cash/drugs/criminals and having your picture taken is a lot more glorious than busting some 19 year old in college because he pirated Madden '08.

the bigger question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#20084643)

I think the bigger question that needs to be answered definitively is "What can I or can I not legally do with hardware I purchased?"

Installing a modchip should be a violation of warranty, not a violation of law. Where is the line drawn? May I install a sticker on the case of my DS? Is that the limit of modifications I'm allowed to do? May I take it apart and look at the circuit boards? May I install an LED that blinks when certain memory registers are hit (thus potentially changing a game to include something extra?) May I have a modchip that allows homebrew but NOT piracy (they do exist)?

Going broader, can I install a non GM approved radio in my car, even if it allows me to play mp3s I obtained from questionable sources?

Where is the limit to what I can do with my own hardware?
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