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Student Faces Ten-Year Sentence for Modding Consoles

3592 Views 76 Replies 25 Participants Last post by  Lex_Light
A college student in the U.S. is looking at a possible ten-year prison sentence after being arrested for the dastardly crime of modding game consoles.

Matthew Lloyd Crippen, a 27-year-old student at Cal State Fullerton, was arrested on Monday by U.S. Immigration and Customs agents on two charges of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by "modifying for personal financial gain technology affecting control or access to a copyrighted work." The arrest follows an investigation that began in late 2008, instigated by the Entertainment Software Association, and a search of Crippen's house in May that resulted in the seizure of more than a dozen Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo consoles. Each count carries a maximum prison term of five years.

"Playing with games in this way is not a game - it is criminal," said I.C.E. agent Robert Schoch. "Piracy, counterfeiting and other intellectual property rights violations not only cost U.S. businesses jobs and billions of dollars a year in lost revenue, they can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers."

I.C.E. claims that counterfeiting and piracy cost the U.S. economy up to $250 billion each year and 750,000 American jobs, and according to an NBC Dallas-Forth Worth report, some estimates say that five to eight percent of all goods sold worldwide are counterfeit.

Full details surrounding the case haven't yet come out but at this stage it appears that Crippen is looking at a longer stretch than some killers for the crime of modding game consoles. Maybe I don't grasp the full complexity of the situation (or maybe I'm just Canadian) but that seems more than a bit harsh to me.
The Escapist : Forums : The News Room : Student Faces Ten-Year Sentence for Modding Consoles

just got to laugh eh.

Playing with games in this way is not a game - it is criminal
just got to point out, HA! there goes the entire pc moding comunity in his view.
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Hmm... well most of the stores I saw , were selling PSPS with Romsand they haven't got arrested yet.
Depends where you live of course, I've seen such stores in Kenya, people have bigger things to worry about there.

skoreanime said:
And people wonder why the video game sales in the past few years have dramatically declined...
Dude, the videogame market is one of the biggest growing markets when it comes to entertainment. It's growing faster than the movie and music industry combined. I could dig up quite a few press releases about this as well, though I'm lazy atm. But well, this is just for one month, which I don't find relevant really, I prefer to look at annual numbers, which showed a huge increase even last year.

This is also my main gripe with the entire entertainment industry: They fail to accept that people prefer to spend money on games nowadays, for which they may cut their investment in movies and music. There's only so much people can spend on this type of expenses.

And well, as for modding, if you're making your money with it on a commercial basis I can understand that if there's laws against it this kid clearly did the wrong thing. Otherwise I'm definitely against the illegalization of modding: It's my own console, so I have the right to do with it what I want within borders of the law. Like said, the importing of games is perfectly legal which for me personally is reason enough to mod a console. A sad fact is that 99% of the people out there use it for different purposes.

As for piracy creating jobs: It just creates jobs on the black market and in local economies. For the US it's not a good thing, but for those who make their money selling bootlegs it's nice. Also, if you look at the bigger picture you can see the following:
If people pirate their games they indirectly stimulate local economy, they have more money left that they can spend on going out to pubs, restaurants movies or do completely other activities with. It's not like the money disappears. So while it costs jobs in one sector, it creates jobs in others because it's not like the money just vanishes, it just gets spent elsewhere. But of course, that doesn't look good in such reports so they prefer to claim that it costs jobs based on the number of potential sales that are lost.
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Staff > spam

Thank you ;)

(lol'd though)

While I am completely on Kaizen's side with this, it's just a shame that the majority screws it up by using modchips for playing downloaded games, making many countries deem them as illegal. Sad truth that hurts the people who enjoy their console. Still, at the same time in many countries it's illegal to sell them yet not illegal to be in the possession of one, I doubt they'll be checking up on your home if your console is modded.
FF Crisis Core
Not worth the efing bandwith and DEFINITELY not worth 20 bucks.
Oooooh! I definitely disagree there. It's a pretty decent game, it just fails at fan service and the materia merging is just another failure too. Otherwise it's quite fun with some great music. For 20 bucks it can give you a fair amount of gaming fun.
Depends on whether you are actually buying the product, or if you are buying a service and they are lending you the product. Different standpoints I guess. :p
In that case you'd sign a contract. When I go to a store I purchase a product without any legal and practical limitations. They can limit my rights after the purchase by putting in some sort of "rules" inside the shrinkwrapped box but those are legally invalid. It's just warrantee where they can limit you, or by writing in the terms of a license of a separate service that you're not allowed to make use of that if you did something with the original product that they don't like, such as modding.

Anyway, I still agree with your point Phil, that as a company you just feel screwed when this happens. Still, even if someone hacks your console and uses it, it still means they probably won't go to the competitor and they may actually pick up a legit game or two every once in a while. I think this is what's hurting the PS3 right now as well. If there's a low adoption rate for this reason, the word of mouth spreads much slower as well, and you'll have entire streets getting the competitor's product because everyone wants to be able to play together. That's one of the reasons of the success of the PSX.

@ Gamefreak: I wouldn't have the balls to risk something like that with a console that expensive.
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Also, the internet made it much easier to massively infringe copyright, so that's the main problem. They lose too many potential sales. The problem is that these companies use these out of proportion scare tactics by just picking on one person, rather than trying to do something about the reasons WHY there is a demand for modded consoles in the first place.

I still don't agree that you get punished harder for something as minor as copyright infringement than for comitting murder.
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