by Mike Masnick
Thu, Aug 2nd 2007 11:11am
We've written about the mod chip saga for years. Basically, mod chips let you change what a video game console can do. It's often used by people who want to play unauthorized games, but there are legitimate reasons to modify your video game system. Considering that it's a purchased item, you would think that the owner would have every right to tinker with it however they saw fit -- but you would be wrong. Buzz writes in to let us know that mod chips are back in the headlines as again as customs agents raided 32 homes and businesses to look for mod chips. It's not clear why the feds should get involved in what someone does to legally purchased hardware, but that's the world we live in these days. Thanks to the DMCA, having anything that can circumvent copy protection is illegal. The press release quotes from the Department of Homeland Security are really stepping into ridiculous territory, though: "These crimes cost legitimate businesses billions of dollars annually and facilitate multiple other layers of criminality, such as smuggling, software piracy and money laundering." That's right. First cite bogus claims about imaginary "losses" and then, to make it actually sound like a big deal, try to imply that it's involved in organized crime by saying it's associated with smuggling and money laundering. Of course, there wouldn't be any issue with "smuggling" if the law wasn't criminalizing modifying a product that you legitimately purchased.
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