5 months in prison, $28500 fine for selling X-Box mod chips

MickeS

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http://www.gamesindustry.biz/content...e=pub&aid=1502

"so far, the attempts of the US Department of Justice to extend the reach of the DMCA beyond its borders have - thankfully - been a failure"

Going to jail for selling hardware to people who want to modify THEIR OWN equipment? Makes me want to throw up. The next time someone says this is "the land of the free", I think I'm going to get into a seriuosly heated debate...

/Mike
 

Jeff Kleist

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Well, if someone would just bother to come up with non-bootleg playing modchips, it wouldn't be an issue, like they did for PSX
 

Max Leung

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Next thing you know, people will be sent to jail for correcting the gray scale on their TVs and projectors. Imagine ISF calibrators being sent to prison because of the DMCA...
 

Ryan Wright

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Well, if someone would just bother to come up with non-bootleg playing modchips
It shouldn't matter what the modchip does. We have no right arresting people for selling tools. Ownership of a mod chip that is capable of playing bootlegged games does not make someone a criminal. It is the ownership of the game that does this.

This is complete and total horseshit. People in the United States are allowed to publish bomb making instructions on the Internet and sell most of the ingredients necessary for making said bombs. Yet people selling computer software (that's all it is - software on a chip) to modify their game consoles are being arrested?

I used to be proud to be an American. Every day, that level of pride drops somewhat.
 

Shayne Lebrun

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The modchips he was selling were pre-blown with illegally modified BIOS code.

The modchips themselves wern't, and aren't, illegal. The modified XBOX bios that must be programmed into said modchips, however, is illegal.
 

Charles J P

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I agree, a standard DVD player is already capable of playing bootlegged DVDs from china or where ever without any mods. The simple act of owning or selling something that is capable of being used for illegal activites should NOT be punishable.
 

MickeS

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It really seems like the modification itself is illegal, even if it used original code, not the BIOS hack.
 

Ryan Wright

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The modified XBOX bios that must be programmed into said modchips, however, is illegal.
Here's my problem with this: Manufacturers are intentionally embedding copyrighted code into their products for the sole purpose of profit and control. Look at your DVD player: The manufacturer paid millions to the people who hold the copyright on the decryption algorithm so they could sell DVD players. Anyone who wants to write a software based DVD player for a computer also has to foot the bill for the license to this engine.

Doesn't that seem like a load of bullshit to anyone else? In other words, you own the DVD. You paid for it fair and square. Now, you're not allowed to watch it without someone paying for the decryption engine. If you write your own decryption engine (DeCSS, anyone?) to play the DVD you legally own, you go to jail under the DMCA.

Same game here with this XBOX. Microsoft puts in code required to load the system, places a copyright on it, and prosecutes the snot out of anyone who wants to modify that code. You know what? It's not their stinkin' XBOX anymore. It's mine, I paid for it (hypothetically speaking - I don't own an XBOX and have no intention of buying one, especially now), I should have the right to do whatever I please with it.

I don't have the right to copy their games and share them with my friends. But an awful lot of modchips are being used to run Linux on gaming consoles, and this ought to be perfectly legal.
 

Alex Spindler

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It sounds like patent royalties, fair and square. Someone invented something and patented it for use. If they didn't want to pay the royalties, they could develop their own decryption code and try to get the industry to standardize on it.

I think I'm fairly confident in saying that the majority of the mod chip users utilize them for illegal copies. Not to say all. There is clearly a thriving interest in playing overseas titles as well as Linux applications. But I can't see anyone saying that the majority of the mod chip usage is for benign reasons.

That said, you either prosecute the suppliers or the users. In this case, they aren't targeting the people making copies of the games but instead those who are making the use of those copied games possible (for people without the knowledge to modify the XBox itself).

Now, if they busted people for making a mod chip that only allowed the use of Linux on the box, then it would be something to be up in arms about. But I really can't see how this is the case.
 

Ryan Wright

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Why would someone put Linux on an xbox in the first place?
Because they can. Linux has been ported to lots of cool platforms. People have it running on the Playstation and the Dreamcast. The XBOX is the next cool target.

Here's another reason why you might want to do this: The XBOX is a full computer and is priced at $200. Wouldn't you like to have a $200 workstation that can output high resolution 3D graphics to your TV natively? I sure as hell would.
 

Philip Hamm

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It's called "Intellectual Property Rights".
It's not their stinkin' XBOX anymore. It's mine, I paid for it (hypothetically speaking - I don't own an XBOX and have no intention of buying one, especially now), I should have the right to do whatever I please with it."
That is highly debatable.
 

MickeS

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Like I said above, it seems, based on what I've read, that even the act of creating all new code and implementing it in a machine I own would be a crime, if that code could be used for playing pirated games. I don't see what Intellectual Property I'm violating by implementing that code, if I don't play pirated games (these mods can usually, as has been pointed out, be used for a whole lot of other things too).

/Mike
 

Ryan Wright

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Actually, Mike, it has little to do with the pirated game bit, and everything to do with circumventing a copy control mechanism. In order to boot a machine such as the XBOX, there is specific code on a chip in the system. You have to, essentially, hack that code and modify it. So not only are you circumventing their "security" (DMCA violation), you're also copying parts of their boot loader code (copyright violation). All this even without touching a pirated game.


That is highly debatable.
I prefer to live in a world where I own what I pay for. If I buy it, I'll do whatever I like with it - laws be damned. And I will continue to make my purchasing and voting decisions based on this philosophy, and fight laws (such as the DMCA) that go against it.
 

Keith Mickunas

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Its the DMCA that is the major problem here. It makes it illegal for people to do things with the hardware they own. Digital Convergence tried to use the DMCA to stop people from using the CueCat for their own purposes. Its ridiculous what people can do with this.

DeCSS is primarily meant to play DVDs. If you own the DVD, and you own the DVD-ROM drive, why can't you use them together? You don't even need DeCSS to copy DVDs, unless you are trying to compress the movie more.

Max, you bring up an interesting point. What if Mits decides to claim that their red push is to give their TV a signature image and they don't want us messing with it? You already have to reverse engineer their software to change some of these settings, how is that not circumvention? If they wanted you to change it, they would have made it accessible.
 

Daren Welsh

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An analogy comes to mind:

You can buy a new (stock) Xbox and play on XBL. If you mod that Xbox, MS will (hopefully) detect it and prevent you from using the XBL service, as decreed in their TOS.

You can buy a new (stock) car and drive it on the public roads. If you mod that car (put some ridiculously large engine in it, or exchange the rubber tires for ones made of wood), the police will (hopefully) see that your car is not safe for the other drivers and will prevent you from using the public roads, as decreed in laws pertaining to public streets.

You can do whatever the hell you want to your new car, as long as you do it on your own terms and don't endanger the safe driving conditions of the controlled streets (although safe is arguable here). Likewise, you should be able to do whatever the hell you want to your new Xbox, as long as you don't expect to play online with other XBL users who follow the TOS.
 
E

Eric Kahn

the true analogy of this utterly ridiculous fine and jail sentence is that if you really think about it, a Linux based computer could be ruled to be in violation of the DMCA and anyone using one could be charged since most Linux machine will operate MS software without windows

DeCSS was needed to play DVD's on Linux machines early on that is why it was written, because none of the mainstream software companies's or the hardware makers would provide "legal" software so Linux users could play their DVD's on their Linux machines
 

Keith Mickunas

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Daren, your analogy only holds if using a modded Xbox on XBL is somehow dangerous to the other users. A heavily modded car may not meet safety or emissions requirements. If a modded Xbox could allow one to cheat, or perhaps cause problems for the servers, then it would be a good analogy.
 

Charles J P

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I agree with Keith, your analogy doesnt hold. What makes an X-box "heavily modified" What if your car was just lowered and had larger rims. It wouldnt be breaking any laws, and it wouldnt be dangerous at all. So that would be the best analogy, and that analogy would support the right to modify your X-Box.
 

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