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The Courts Government News Entertainment Games

ESA Initiates Police Raid Against Console Modder 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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ESA Initiates Police Raid Against Console Modder

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  • Okay... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 3p1ph4ny ( 835701 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:38PM (#19651203) Homepage
    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.
  • by Nighttime ( 231023 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:41PM (#19651253) Homepage Journal
    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?
  • Stupid... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by T_ConX ( 783573 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:44PM (#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.
  • by PorkNutz ( 730601 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:48PM (#19651391) Homepage
    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.

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  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @12:58PM (#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.

  • 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.

  • by mrchaotica ( 681592 ) * on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @04:20PM (#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:Dont worry... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MstrFool ( 127346 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @10:22PM (#19658219)
    We still do the same in the US, and you're starting to hear about people making the effort to crack down. Just because they can't enforce it today doesn't mean they won't find a way to enforce it tomorrow.

Trap full -- please empty.