If Mod Chip Firms Get Fined, Should Pep Boys Start Calling Their Lawyers?
from the analogies dept
Imagine if you bought a car, and you wanted to mess around with it and turn it into a hotrod. While that may not be for everyone, it’s a pretty common practice. Car owners are allowed to modify their cars, as long as it remains road safe. However, when it comes to video game consoles, the same sort of thing gets you in an awful lot of trouble. This isn’t a new issue. Lawsuits against video game mod chip companies have gone on for years. While Italy has realized that mod chipping should be perfectly legal, many other countries still have a problem with it. The issue, is that while there are plenty of legitimate uses for mod chips, they can also be used to run unauthorized (“pirated”) software, and that can violate the ever-infamous anti-circumvention clause of the DMCA. Recently, the feds started cracking down on mod chippers, and the news came out that a court has fined one firm over $9 million for selling mod chips and software that could be used to copy a game. Note, of course, that they were just selling the tool. They weren’t the ones actually violating copyright. So why should it be illegal for someone to tinker with their gaming console, even if the tinkering could allow games to be copied? If they actually are copying games, that’s one issue to deal with. But, simply selling a modified version doesn’t seem like it should be illegal. Just imagine the uproar if the same rules applied to automobiles? Of course, with cars becoming increasingly computerized, it’s probably only a matter of time until someone is sued for either modifying their car or selling the tools to do so.