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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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  • Re:Okay... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by twistedsymphony ( 956982 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @01:09PM (#19651723) Homepage
    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.
  • by MBGMorden ( 803437 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @01:29PM (#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:Okay... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by aichpvee ( 631243 ) on Tuesday June 26, 2007 @02:03PM (#19652651) Journal
    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.

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