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Student Faces Ten-Year Sentence for Modding Consoles

3553 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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1 - Buying something doesn't mean you own the ideas and innovation from the product. You just legally own the right to use it as you wish as its intended. Get on the companies radar by using their product to do something...bad, and they'll sic the authorities on you.
1. Something bad well i ain't going to be using it to hack nasa or something other like making bio weapons (sound ridiculous but its in the I tunes User Agreement that still cracks me up), modding it doesn't even change its purpose for which it was meant really, by using this point of view it could also means that if it breaks i don't have the right to open it up and look around it to fix it since i'm only entitled to use it as is.
This was during high school, when PS2 was the king console, a guy in Canada was caught selling mod chips and pirated games. The big thing that struck out to me was the court labeled the mod chips as illegal. I believe it still is, as how the two shops that were in my city that did make, sell and install mod chips just mysteriously closed shop and was never heard from again.
I can understand the pirate part but mod chips shouldn't belong here.

2 - :p If you have the means and money to buy another to play a game you really, really, really, really...really want to, you will.
Nope i wouldn't :p, since that money could be better spent on games or another system (talking about a different console)

3 - It does protect retailers. Maybe for a single game it's not worth it with the shipping, but buying in bulk? Definitely. Instead of paying $100 worth of games at EB, what's stopping me from buying it from another country for half the price plus $20 in S&H? Ebays really no different from any other retailer. I don't see your point there.
If the difference would indeed be that big i think its the retailers fault for being overpriced again i don't see any reason of "protecting" greedy people.

4 - Woah woah, emulation is a whole different story there. Someone, somewhere is always making a profit off modding. Emulation, no one does. I see it more as an alternative.
Technically yes its a different thing but looking at "the big picture" emulation also contributes to some of the losses of the big company's (by not buying the console not even needing a mod chip to play a pirated game), now to make my idea more clearer i love emulation and what it truly represents it was just a example on how emulation can be used to influence the industry in a bad way, the same being with mod chips there isn't really anything bad with them they just offer some advantages but its not there fault some use them for bad purposes.

I agree though region locking needs to be readjusted. With the new age of technology every few years, easy access around the globe is much more common now. But that's a whole different debate together, and I don't really want to prolong this...
Well indeed that is a debate in its own :p.
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Something bad well i ain't going to be using it to hack nasa or something other like making bio weapons (sound ridiculous but its in the I tunes User Agreement that still cracks me up), modding it doesn't even change its purpose for which it was meant really, by using this point of view it could also means that if it breaks i don't have the right to open it up and look around it to fix it since i'm only entitled to use it as is.
Didn't mean it that way. What I meant was Sony sold you a product that could play PS2 discs and DVDs in your region. That's what you bought. There's nothing stopping you from ripping open your PS2 'cept voiding your warranty. You intend to use your console in a different way then Sony wanted you to the minute you place a mod in there. That's the issue.

Retailers really don't make that much money. Especially video game retailers. Stores like Gamestop stick around cause of their whole trade, sell system. That's where most of their money comes from. I would know, cause one of my friend works at one, where his aunt is the owner ;)

The mod chip argument may have been true in its very early life stage, but definitely not now. I don't hear (I'm talking about personal friends now, even if I don't agree with them) or see people modding their consoles to play foreign games. They do it for all the advantages they get saving money on their entertainment, which is infuriating at times. Just want to smack 'em silly :p

And I suppose this is one big reason why I like MMOs and other online mostly games. Every player on the game paid their fair share to get the game going.
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Well it is true that's what many see mods as (or better yet what many people turned mods in to) but for me personally like i said modding =/= piracy, its great for backuping (extending the life of your originals), homebrew and importing.
2 - :p If you have the means and money to buy another to play a game you really, really, really, really...really want to, you will.
Theoretically here, you expecpt people to buy the cosole twice to use something they should be able to use adequitely one one console, i find that a little extreme, and somewhat stupid in any sence. Or another example if i moved, i should have to buy the same exact console again, just to use games from that region.

Glass is half full or half empty argument on that I guess :p

I'd rather put the money towards supporting the longevity of the console then questionable merchants and their merchandise.

Too bad we can't swap like the old PS1 days... It wasn't perfect, but I could still play a fair number of imports at the time. I did it so much I had to replace the disc holder in the PS1 with one from my discman cause it snapped in half swapping one night :evil:
Too bad we can't swap like the old PS1 days... It wasn't perfect, but I could still play a fair number of imports at the time. I did it so much I had to replace the disc holder in the PS1 with one from my discman cause it snapped in half swapping one night :evil:
i thought you could still do that on the ps2, ofcourse after taping up the laser sensors, but yeh, its still possible.

it might include a gameshark expliot but yeh.
Oh? I'll have to read into that...but I'm not too keen on trying it on my relatively new slim I just got a couple months ago :p

Thank God the PS3 is region free though. No need to worry about buying a second one.


One of my brothers may take it if they decide to move out. We'll all be fighting for it of course, but it was a family present during Christmas sooooo... I'll have to take the initiative... :evil:
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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Really? Hmmm, I do remember reading a little snippit on how more people are plopping down at home and playing video games and such instead of heading out...but that was awhile ago. Guess I'll read up a bit more on this.

But I can't help notice how empty my EBgames has been lately. Last 3 times I've been there, I'm the only one in the store :lol:

Or it could be as Exodus said...less crappy titles being pumped out.
The recession is hammering the video game industry.

Marking the sector's fourth consecutive monthly decline, sales of video games and consoles in the U.S. fell 31% last month to $1.2 billion, down from $1.7 billion in June 2008, according to a report released Thursday from market research firm NPD Group Inc.

It was the largest monthly decline since September 2000, when industry sales slumped 41%, said NPD analyst Anita Frazier.

"This level of decline is certainly going to cause some pain and reflection in the industry," Frazier said.

Consumer jitters about the economy, combined with a lackluster slate of game releases, led to a 38% drop in sales of game consoles such as Sony Corp.'s PlayStation 3, Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 and Nintendo Co.'s Wii and DS in June. Hardware sales fell to $383.6 million last month, from $617.3 million in June 2008.

Games took a slightly smaller tumble, falling 29% to $625.8 million in June, down from $875.8 million in the same month a year ago.

For the first half of the year, the industry's overall sales in the U.S. were down 12% to $7.3 billion.

Among the top performers was Electronic Arts Inc. in Redwood City, Calif., which claimed four out of the top 10 titles last month. THQ Inc. in Calabasas, which hung its financial turnaround on two titles -- UFC 2009: Undisputed and Red Faction: Guerrilla -- saw both games in the bestselling list.

Industry analysts had entered 2009 confident that the recession would leave games unscathed because of its perceived value in offering dozens of hours of entertainment per title and because of people's tendency to stay home during hard times instead of spending money on big vacations.

Some industry watchers still have hope that the industry could pull out of its current tailspin.

"You have weak hardware sales and you have weak software, so it's prudent to be concerned about the rest of the year," said Colin Sebastian, an analyst with Lazard Capital Markets. "But there's still a chance for the industry to show growth for the entire year."

Much depends on two factors, Sebastian said. The first is a possible price cut for one or all of the game consoles, which could spur sales.

"Sony certainly needs to cut the price of the PS3, and it's widely anticipated at this point that they will do so," he said.

That expectation leads shoppers to delay purchases until the price drops, which could also explain the slowdown, he said. Sony has said it has no plans to lower its $400 price tag for the PlayStation 3.

The second, more critical factor is the fall lineup, which ramps up to the Christmas shopping season, when game publishers reap the bulk of their revenue. Right now, it's easy to panic because summer months are typically very slow for game sales, Sebastian said.

"The rubber will meet the road when the fall titles hit the shelves," he said.
sauce:Video game industry sales sink 31% in June - Los Angeles Times

this is one recent example, but from what I recall, this year has seen a decline in total sales in the video game industry. Of course that is to be expected when you factor in that over the past few years sales have been record braking on a monthly basis, so it seems right that sales are down at the moment. Of course this could all change this christmas with, as the article says, potential ps3 price drop and the horizon of some truly AAA looking titles (Arkham Asylum, Brutal Legend, Modern Warfare 2, Assassins Creed 2, etc) which could very well push sales through the roof again.
And look at that - they didn't even blame piracy. They used real reasons like the season, the game lineups, console prices, and the economy.
I think the guy is selling modified consoles.

That could be illegal.

Is the verdict worth it? Not really.

But then if there's an investigation, he's already on their radar for quite some time.....
But it really does come down to protecting the producers. If we could import the game, for say half the original retail price new, why not? Having free reign on deciding where to get your games from could destroy retailers.
It's the same idea the globalization should only benefit the industry, and not the consumer I guess.
I would expect some materialism in this thread, but i havent seen too much of it.

I believe that if you buy a product, YOU own it. YOU have paid the price set by the product-developer, so YOU own it. And ofcourse, since YOU own it, YOU can do whatever the hell YOU want to do with it.
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
I agree with the modding, but even a blind person can see that console mods make dents in profit for a company, it makes no sense to deny that. If you were the company, you would be very pissed indeed if some hooligan is making big bucks on YOUR creation, thank you very much.
There really is only one reason to mod a console, to pirate.
That's not the only reason to mod a console, however it is the main selling point to sell a modded console to others. I mean when this kid was making his pitch, I doubt he mentioned homebrew to his customers at all, He probably just appealed to their desire to get things for free/cheaper than they're worth. He probably actively encouraged and promoted piracy and gave information, tips, etc.

The fact that ICE was involved makes me wonder if this wasn't part of a larger investigation into people importing modchips from overseas. If that's the case, this kid should snitch his ass off on his supply chain.

I wouldn't even consider the idea of buying the exact same console from another region to play imports. That's just preposterous.
I agree with the modding, but only for loading backups OF YOUR OWN GAMES. :D
And what percentage of people do that?
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