After Four Years Feds Finally Get Around To Prosecuting Ten Mod Chip Sellers

from the to-jailbreak-or-not-to-jailbreak dept

Over four years ago, ICE ran an investigation into mod chip sellers in the US titled "Operation Tangled Web". During this investigation, ICE agents raided 32 locations in 16 states. Very little information was released at the time regarding who was targeted and if any charges were brought up. Since then, almost no information has been released about the operation. Thankfully, an eagle eyed John Doe found a press release from April 10 that details the names of ten individuals officially indicted on charges of violating the DMCA's anti-circumvention clause. The charges are as follows:
The indictments generally charge that the defendants knowingly manufactured, imported, offered to the public, or otherwise trafficked in technology, products, services, devices, components or parts thereof, which were primarily designed to circumvent technological measures designed to effectively control access to a work copyrighted under Title 17 of the United States Code, for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain.
Other than this information and the list of names, there is no other publicly available information on any of the ten cases. What really makes this announcement interesting is its proximity to the US Copyright Office considering proposals that would provide a jailbreaking exemption for game consoles. If that proposal is accepted by the Copyright Office, then the actions performed by these ten individuals would be legal for others to perform for the next three years. However, it is unclear how such an exception would effect the charges brought against these individuals. It is really sad to see ten people's lives being dragged through criminal courts for performing an action that should be perfectly legal.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:12am

    if you legally own something, why should you not be able to do what you want with it? there is nothing else i can think of, other than something that is produced for ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES by the entertainment industries, that a person cant change if so desired. why not be able to alter something that costs $500 or so, when you can change something that costs $100,000s' as and when you want? ridiculous!

     

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  2.  
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    John Doe, May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:15am

    What is really sad...

    What is really sad is that the US Copyright Office and and does allow jail breaking of devices to be legal and then illegal. If they can just make the statement every year about what is now legal and what isn't then why is any of it illegal at all? If it was such a serious offense then it would never be legal for anyone or any device.

     

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  3.  
    identicon
    John Doe, May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:18am

    Re:

    Just imagine if the auto industry could have you thrown in jail for putting a supercharger or any other aftermarket part on your car. There is a huge, thriving aftermarket for automobiles that would disappear over night. Does that really do society any good?

     

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  4.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:19am

    That word...

    "effectively"

    Slapping a paper-clip onto your luggage and calling it a lock does not give you the right to sue somebody for bypassing your "lock".

     

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  5.  
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    Franklin G Ryzzo (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:22am

    While many people do mod consoles for illegitimate purposes, there are many people who mod them for perfectly legal purposes. The fact that there is substantial legitimate uses for mod chips should not make a criminal of someone selling or installing these devices. If the defendants have decent representations, I would be highly surprised if they were convicted of any crime.

    Does anyone know what the potential penalty would be if they were found guilty?

     

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  6. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:25am

    It is really sad to see ten people's lives being dragged through criminal courts for performing an action that should be perfectly legal.

    What's really sad, Mike, is how you always defend the pirates--yet you pretend that you're neither pro-piracy nor a piracy apologist.

    Why do you lie to your readers so? Why are you so fundamentally dishonest?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    A Guy (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:31am

    Re: That word...

    I think you mean slapping a paperclip on someone elses suitcase, calling it a lock, and then suing them for removing it.

     

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  8.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:32am

    Re:

    While many people do mod consoles for illegitimate purposes, there are many people who mod them for perfectly legal purposes.

    I have three modded XBOXs (original, not 360.) I don't use them to play games, though I do own a number of XBOX games that I sometimes play with those XBOXs. I modded them for one purpose, XBMC, so they could be settop boxes since I didn't want to attach a computer to each TV in my house. While they are being replaced with BD-players (from LG, not Sony,) they still are used primarily for that purpose, and in at least one case, that purpose alone.

    I bought all three used, from a well known vendor, well after Microsoft stopped selling and supporting them. If Microsoft isn't even supporting them any more, and no new games have been released in years, what do they care what I do with them?

     

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  9.  
    icon
    gorehound (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:35am

    Re: Re:

    +1
    Great Comment !!! This says it all and in a few lines.
    So right you are.
    Modifying Guns !
    Modifying Fishing/Hunting Gear !
    Modifying your Audio Gear !

    Fuck Off Sony & Other Console Makers ! This is another reason why it is best to probably use a PC to play your games.If you are a serious gamer you should post on your message boards and get a Petition and/or Boycott with Millions of Gamers joining.Money Talks and BS Walks.

     

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  10.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:39am

    Re:

    What's really sad, Mike, is how you always defend the pirates--yet you pretend that you're neither pro-piracy nor a piracy apologist.

    What is really sad, Anonymous Coward, is that you always come here and defend the industries who abuse their artists and their customers alike, yet you pretend you are just some concerned citizen who isn't paid by the industry to spew FUD.

    Why do you lie to your readers so? Why are you so fundamentally dishonest?

    Why are you still here? You believe you know what it is that Mike says here, but it is obvious to the rest of us that you don't, and you're so fundamentally dishonest about it.

     

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  11.  
    identicon
    Mat, May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:40am

    Re:

    Hold it. The mod chips themselves are not a piracy issue. they can be used to play copied games. Including, say, that one legitimately made backup copy you are allowed to make of software you own. they also allow you to play homebrew games, which honestly I used my consoles more for those then any of the legit commercial games I bought. this is the equivliant of saying because I put a CD-R burner into my laptop, that it is piracy. No, it isn't. it's an upgrade to equipment I supposedly own.

     

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  12.  
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    ltlw0lf (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:47am

    Re: Re:

    Why are you still here? You believe you know what it is that Mike says here, but it is obvious to the rest of us that you don't, and you're so fundamentally dishonest about it.

    I was trying to be subtle about it, but after reading it again, I may have been too subtle. It might help anonymous coward out to read the byline on the article before he puts words into Mike's mouth, since Mike didn't even write the article to begin with.

     

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  13.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:51am

    Re:

    I have modded some of my older consoles but I have never used them to pirate a game. Does that make me piracy apologist or a pirate?

     

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  14.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:54am

    We are the Oligarchy.

    You will be assimilated.

    Resistance is vital.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    identicon
    Donnicton, May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:54am

    Re: Re: That word...

    Slapping a paper-clip onto a suitcase that you made and suing the guy you sold the suitcase to for removing it.

     

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  16.  
    icon
    Lowestofthekeys (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:58am

    Re: Re:

    Don't mind the AC troll, he is just here to fist pump to a picture of Mike.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
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    PlagueSD (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 11:03am

    Re: Re: Re:

    and THIS is the #1 reason I do not own ANY gaming consoles. I'm a 100% PC gamer. If I want to mod my computer, all it takes is a quick trip to the local electronics store.

    I've technically had the same "computer" for the last 8 years...Although the only thing that remains is the case. EVERYTHING else has been upgraded. Come to think of it, I'm due for another "upgrade" pretty soon.

    The Automobile analogy is spot on...If you BUY your car, it's legal to modify it with aftermarket parts. If you LEASE your car, I don't think you can do that...There may be penalties when the lease is over. I've never leased a car, so not 100% sure on that one.

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2012 @ 11:08am

    For the love of God: it's AFFECT, not effect!

     

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  19.  
    icon
    E. Zachary Knight (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 11:08am

    Re:

    What's really sad, Mike, is how you always defend the pirates--yet you pretend that you're neither pro-piracy nor a piracy apologist.

    What is really sad is that you continue to ignore bylines. Also, you seem to be unable to recognize that technology is neutral and the use of technology should not be banned simply because some people might use that technology for nefarious purposes.

    Why do you lie to your readers so? Why are you so fundamentally dishonest?

    Its only lying if it is not the truth. So far, you have provided no evidence that what you say is the truth.

     

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  20.  
    icon
    PlagueSD (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re:

    You're supporting piracy by buying CD-R burners and blank media. That's why they came up with the piracy "tax"


    /sarcasm

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Beech, May 2nd, 2012 @ 11:12am

    But if you put an aftermarket super charger on your car, you may use it to break the speed limit. What other purpose would there be for such an item? Clearly to your car should be illegal as well!

    Oh, and those air fresheners you hang from the rear view mirror, you may use them to make your car smell pretty WHILE YOU RUN A RED LIGHT! Must ban them too!

     

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  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2012 @ 11:12am

    Its just a good thing that our country is doing so well that the FBI can spend 4 years on something so utterly pointless.

    Just like piracy, im sure this is going to stop it.

     

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  23.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2012 @ 11:13am

    Re:

    Why do you lie to your readers so? Why are you so fundamentally dishonest?


    It's these plaintive attacks in the form of questions that make these comments so brilliant. The way they presuppose a flaw in the subject is wonderful if not exactly subtle.

    Baby, why do you have to make me hit you?

    When did you stop beating your wife?

    You might have better luck on some sites not quite so geared toward techie, professional people with an interest in seeing through the propaganda of IP industry shills. There are lot of sites which cater to people lacking in reasoning skills.

    You're not going to convince anyone here that they shouldn't have the right to modify equipment they own.

     

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  24.  
    icon
    Nigel (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 11:14am

    Re:

    "What's really sad, Mike, is how you always defend the pirates--yet you pretend that you're neither pro-piracy nor a piracy apologist."

    What is really sad is you are so fuscken stupid you don't even realize that Mike didn't write said article.

    Not sure how its even possible but, you get dumber by the day.

    N.

     

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  25.  
    icon
    :Lobo Santo (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 11:18am

    Re: Re: All! the! answers!

    "There are lot of sites which cater to people lacking in reasoning skills."
    like answers.yahoo.com which is an excellent place for trolling, or so I hear...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    icon
    PlagueSD (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 11:19am

    Re:

    Troll tip:
    Pay attention to who actually wrote the article before you start bashing!!!


    wow...gotta love the AC's. Mike didn't even WRITE this. Do they even bother to actually read the article before posting? Nevermind, we all know the answer to that.

    Unless I'm missing something in an alternate universe where Zachary and Mike are the same person...

     

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  27.  
    icon
    Ninja (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 11:23am

    I wonder, if they get arrested today and the law changes in a few years (as it's the natural course of things) what will happen? Will the Govt give those ppl back the years they lost in prison?

    Probably not.

     

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  28.  
    icon
    Dog On a Teflon Floor (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 11:33am

    Re:

    Yo AC Bot 3000! Try to stay on topic at least. This article is about modding and not piracy. BTW, Mike didn't even write it. Regardless of the author, the point of view expressed in the article is not obfuscated at all. You really look both illiterate and foolish.

     

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  29.  
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    DanZee (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 11:46am

    Re: Re:

    Unfortunately, they do care. A lot of people were pushing for Microsoft to make Windows 3.1 open source because what the heck is MS going to with a 15-year old operating system? Let people play around with it. Nope. Sorry. You might be able to do something really cool with it and we can't have that!

     

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  30.  
    icon
    Chosen Reject (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 12:02pm

    Re:

    What's really sad, Isaac, is how you always defend gravity--yet you pretend that you're neither pro-falling-to-death nor a man-will-never-fly-believer.

    What's really sad, Albert, is how you always defend relativity--yet you pretend that your watch is constant and will get you to places on time.

    What's really sad, John Adams, is how you always defend the soldiers of the Boston Massacre--yet you pretend that you're neither a Tory nor a tyranny apologist.

    What's really sad, AC, is how you always defend ridiculous laws and the removal of rights from citizens--yet pretend you're neither pro-corporatocracy nor a corruption apologist.

     

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  31.  
    icon
    Chosen Reject (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 12:07pm

    Re:

    Obviously those air fresheners have no other purpose than to mask the marijuana you're smoking or the decomposing bodies in your trunk. You're a murderer and a druggie!

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2012 @ 12:38pm

    Re:

    Actually chip-tuning for a car and any tuning for a moped is just gettin illegalized in Denmark. Also any change in Speedlimiters on trucks + removal of catalyzer and particle filters are made illegal in the law. I kid you not!

    Sorry for my reference. It is too new to have reached international sources:
    http://fpn.dk/motor/bil/article2765840.ece

     

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  33.  
    identicon
    DCX2, May 2nd, 2012 @ 1:33pm

    Re: Re:

    What is really sad is that you continue to ignore bylines.

    Shills aren't paid to read. They're paid to shill. Just like politicians, they're given talking points and they spout them without actually evaluating whether what they're saying makes any sense. After all, if they took a moment to rationalize what they're saying, they'd be out of a job.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    Steve R. (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 1:50pm

    Re: Re:

    What gives a company a right to define what a "nefarious purpose" is and to advocate that modifications are criminal activity. To go a step beyond: "technology should not be banned simply because some people might use that technology for nefarious purposes."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2012 @ 1:52pm

    I would acquit them because the feds violated their constitutional right to a speedy trial.

     

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  36.  
    icon
    ltlw0lf (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 1:52pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Unfortunately, they do care. A lot of people were pushing for Microsoft to make Windows 3.1 open source because what the heck is MS going to with a 15-year old operating system?

    I absolutely agree with you on that. They care, but it is exactly the psychotic/sociopathic reason you said...we don't want you to be able to profit from something we aren't profiting from. Its my toy and I can take it home with me even though I gave it to you to do whatever I wanted you to do with it.

    For Windows 3.1, I figure they believe that if someone has the source code to Windows 3.1, they can somehow make a better version of Windows 8 (which would actually be quite easy) and then people wouldn't go to Microsoft for it. Sad, since there is already a better version of Windows 8, called Linux and the folks that write Linux allow anyone to look at the source code.

     

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  37.  
    icon
    Glaze (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 2:04pm

    Re:

    I actually had a friend who ate a portion of a vanilla tree air freshener when he was being pulled over after drinking... he said that it made him almost puke, but it got him out of a DWI

    So they should be illegal because you can drive under the influence after eating a small portion...

    and I would never recommend anyone actually try this... they are poisonous, and my friend was in a desperate situation. And, yes, my friend is actually a friend, not my self.

     

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  38.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2012 @ 2:06pm

    Re:

    The MASS Affect is that nobody knows the mass of the Effect...

     

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  39.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 2nd, 2012 @ 4:05pm

    Re:

    Right now, I'm on a wii modded to run linux(using the links browser).

    Because I can.

     

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  40.  
    icon
    techflaws.org (profile), May 2nd, 2012 @ 10:27pm

    Re:

    Why are you so fundamentally dishonest?

    That's rich coming from a jackass putting word in Mike's mouth. Yeah, that totally works.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    identicon
    Digitari, May 3rd, 2012 @ 5:10am

    Re:

    I have been reading TD for a few years now, I must say I love that some of the AC's (and Others)have caused me to think of "intellectual Property" as an oxymoron. any one else???

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    identicon
    Lord Binky, May 3rd, 2012 @ 10:27am

    Re:

    Not unless they get a pardon. The way I understand it, even if they are not convicted by the time the law changes, they would be charged and sentenced just the same since it was illegal at the time they did it. It also works in reverse where you can't be charged with something legal at the time later, when it is made illegal.

     

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  43.  
    icon
    Philly Bob (profile), May 3rd, 2012 @ 11:37am

    Re: We are the Oligarchy.

    As long as no one mods you it's OK.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    icon
    AzureSky (profile), May 3rd, 2012 @ 4:18pm

    Re:

    because you dont own anything you buy anymore, if you read the license you agree to when you buy these items, you will see, you are only allowed to use them as long as and how the manufacturer sees fit.

    its much like owning land in this country, your only allowed to do on/with your land what the govt says you can.

    and if the govt wants your land they can and will take it and pay you as little as possible.

    again according to the industry we own NOTHING anymore, we buy it but are not allowed to modify it in any way....

     

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  45.  
    icon
    AzureSky (profile), May 3rd, 2012 @ 4:27pm

    mod chips are not simply for piracy.

    mod chips are not merely piracy tools, I have moded dozens of consols so that geeks could play imported games from japan, korea, and even china and india, games you couldnt play on them otherwise due to idiotic regional lockouts.

    you could buy a console for each country, BUT in some cases you would also need a tv from said country to use them(pal vs ntsc for example)

    honestly its cheaper and easier to just mod the console and play the games.

    in no way does this hurt the publisher or company who sold the console, it infact makes it more useful, yes by extension most mod chips allow playing of copied games, so what, its not like most people could do the mods I did, not many people I have met can solder, let alone well enough to do the mod with the best kinda mod chips....

    With the xbox you could software mod it but, if you did the hardware mod it worked better in many cases, not sure why, dont really care.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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