Feds’ Mod Chip Raid Ended a $2.5 Million Piracy Operation


A 2007 investigation by Homeland Security agents led them to conclude that a Texas company was raking in as much as $2.5 million per year through the importing and reselling of mod chips obtained from a supplier in China, GamePolitics has learned.

When installed in video game consoles, mod chips allow for the playing of pirated copies of games, but have other more legitimate uses as well. Although they are legal in some countries (Canada, Australia, UK), mod chips are prohibited in the United States under terms of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

To date, federal law enforcement officials have kept a tight lid on "Operation Tangled Web," their code name for a wide-ranging investigation into mod chip distribution in the United States which culminated in a series of raids in August, 2007. However, a detailed search of publicly-accessible court records by GamePolitics has turned up signed copies of warrants authorizing investigators from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to seize two accounts controlled by a Texas man, identified by investigators as Manuel S. Diaz-Marta of Dallas. The warrants were sworn to by ICE Agent Vaughn Johnson, an asset seizure specialist.

GamePolitics readers may recall that on August 1, 2007, ICE agents raided 32 locations in 16 states, seeking evidence of mod chip distribution. Federal agents received technical assistance in the case from video game publishers trade group the Entertainment Software Association.

According to the documents obtained by GamePolitics, the investigation into Diaz-Marta began in November, 2006 when ICE Agent William Engel of the agency’s Cleveland Field Office made undercover purchases of PlayStation 2 mod chips from www.modchipstore.com. An ICE check of domain registration records showed that the URL was registered to a Dallas company, NonStop Technologies. Feds then traced a money order used to make their undercover purchase and found that it had been deposited into a Wells Fargo Bank account registered to NonStop Technologies and Diaz-Marta. ICE alleges that Diaz-Marta listed his gross annual sales as $1,800,000 on Wells Fargo account application forms. When investigators seized the Wells Fargo account on August 1, 2007 it contained $109,100.55.

ICE also alleges that, between August, 2006 and February, 2007, the Wells Fargo account was used to make forty wire transfers totalling more than $500,000 to Supreme Factory, a Chinese company which federal investigators say is known to them as a distributor of mod chips. During the same time period, more than $1.2 million was deposited into the Wells Fargo account, presumably from mod chip sales within the United States. At that rate, federal investigators calculated that modchipstore.com would have been generating roughly $2.5 million per year in sales.

During the August 1, 2007 raid, investigators searched Diaz-Marta’s residence, according to one of the affidavits signed by Agent Johnson. At that time agents discovered more than 100 mod chips as well as invoices from Supreme Factory for additional devices. Agent Johnson estimated that 80% of NonStop Technologies’ business derived from mod chip sales, writing in a seizure affidavit:

The business cycle for NonStop Technologies more closely resembles that of a drug dealer than that of a provider of legitimate consumer goods. The sales volume and turnover being conducted by NonStop Technologies is indicative of the sale of a highly sought after and scarce product…

As a result of the search of Diaz-Marta’s residence, agents also moved to seize a Scottrade account. No funds were contained in that account, however.

GP: Today’s GamePolitics exclusive coverage is the first public indication that 2007’s Operation Tangled Web was a major investigative success for the feds, as well as something of a coup for the ESA’s anti-piracy team. Heretofore, the only publicly available information on the case has consisted of scattered, largely unofficial reports concerning apparent small-fry who were caught up in the sweep. Now, with evidence of NonStop Technologies’ impressive revenue stream and large wire transfers to China, the picture of the investigation has changed considerably.

It is important to point out, however, that no information has been released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office regarding potential indictments of anyone involved in the case, including Diaz-Marta. ICE declined GP’s request to comment for this story. We should also point out that 31 other places were raided on August 1, 2007. Very little is known so far about what was found at most of those locations.

Document dump:

1.) seizure warrant for Wells Fargo Bank account

2.) seizure warrant for Scottrade account

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118 comments

  1. JustChris says:

    2.5 million dollars…probably just barely a scratch on the piracy industry. And I wonder if the fed’s cracking down on piracy is just as "serious" as the DEA cracking down on drugs- and they’re actully allowing some of that crime to happen, in order to keep people in the government from losing jobs. So they keep their work of confiscating the golden eggs from the pirates, but not killing the whole goose.

  2. MaJeStIc_12_x says:

    Intent does play a role in this. In most of the cases I’ve seen, modders offer games in addition to the mod as part of a bundle.

    Here’s a solution, sell mod chips that don’t allow copied games to be played. Why don’t mod chip sellers do this? They probably wouldn’t sell nearly enought to make the mod chip profitable since they’d lose the sales from people buying only to play copied games.

    All I’m saying is that this is one giant gray area, and to suggest that it’s clear cut on either side is ignorant. I’m all for protecting the legallity of mods in general (as someone mentioned earlier, we’re not leasing the consoles), but the fact of the matter is that a very large majority of mod chips are being used to play copied games. To deny that is being shortsighted.

     

  3. GoodRobotUs says:

    That’s still about the people selling the devices, not the devices themselves. If I sold DVD’s, it would not be illegal, if I sold DVD’s packed with pirated films, it would be, it’s the pirating that is illegal, not the Media or Device that is used.

  4. ZippyDSMlee says:

    So your saying that I coudl advert a BR burner as "copy your BR moives save moneies!!!" Your missing the point its the sale of illict software is the problem not the hardware itself. 

     

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

  5. Techzoner says:

    As one involved in this whole mess, I can tell you that mum has been the word on this whole case as far as the Feds are concerned. I think I have gotten more info from this site than anywhere else. Even my attorney has yet to have contact since the day of the warrant serving.

  6. Red_Flag says:

    Yah, funny isn’t it that "carrying on your person" and "possession" are two completely different legal concepts. Funny isn’t it that some states and cities have laws against carrying a concealed knife in public? They assume that having it means you are planning to break the law. Funny isn’t it?

    Gorram muppet.

  7. Wolvenmoon says:

    My question is how they think pirates that are willing to jump through hoops to steal games won’t just grab the components to make a modchip from radioshack and download the image to flash to the chip. They’re simple enough to be handmade, and EEPROM writers are cheap these days.

    They shot themselves in the foot on this one. They could have profited off of this, seen a demand for unlocked media, and themselves opened up an online store that let people import the games. They charge retail prices, have no overhead, and can charge S/H.

    But no, their knee-jerk was punitive, and just spurrs projects like openpandora (google it) on.

    The "Fall of modern gaming" is something every gamer should look forward to. It means we get games that have easily moddable engines, can be ran however we want, and the company can still release part of it as proprietary and charge off of it.

    Anyone here remember dark forces II:jedi knight?

    ALL mod tools and mods were user made because lucasarts left teh door open. the level editor, the mod manager, everything. The game was released 1997-ish and still has an active mapping community to the tune of two new maps a month.

    Those modders and coders haven’t poofed,t hey’re still out there, what’s gone is the time when companies valued their programmers.

  8. Bennett Beeny says:

    Tell me how I can play English games on my US Xbox without a mod chip.

    I’ve never pirated a game in my life, and I don’t appreciate being called a pirate by someone who is clearly ignorant of the issue he’s blathering about.

  9. Bennett Beeny says:

    Mod chips have one legitimate use that almost everyone needs them for – playing foreign games.  If I want to play a cricket or rugby game on my Xbox I can’t, because cricket and rugby games aren’t made for the US market.  I have to buy cricket games from England.  There may not be many legitimate uses for mod chips, but of the few that exist, many people are using mod chips for those legitimate reasons.  If I didn’t play most of my games on my PC I would have a mod chip for my Xbox because I like English sports.  Apparently, in the US, liking English sports makes me a pirate.

  10. GusTav2 says:

    I’ve made this point before, but it is worth making again.

    Mod Chips are NOT lawful in the UK.

    The fact the the Higgs prosecution turned out to be flawed on appeal doesn’t mean that the chips are lawful; just that Higg’s conviction was overturned. The Court of Appeal made it clear that while the argument made by the prosectution at his trial was outside the terms of the Act, there was another argument, that they specifically approved, which would allow future prosecutins to proceed.

    Now it is, sadly, clear why Mod Chips are unlawful in the UK.

  11. MaJeStIc_12_x says:

    When DVD and VHS recorders are sold, they are not promoted as a way to circumvent buying actual movies and music. Most mod chips are advertised in a way that suggests that both the buyer and the consumer understand that the primary use is playing copied games.

    Take a look at some craigslist postings from Orange County:

    http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/sys/916727062.html

    http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/ele/916808325.html

    http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/ele/923685638.html

    http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/ele/931764052.html

    http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/ele/932524979.html

    http://orangecounty.craigslist.org/ele/932560740.html

    Some of the keywords and phrases used to promote modding or modded consoles:

    "I HAVE Over 300 PSP GAMES & PSX GAMES, GBA, NES, SNES, ATARI, SEGA ROMS & EMULATORS and i will fill your memory card with games once im done modding your psp"

    • "If you don’t have the time to download Games & Roms I have them
    • Dvd full of games $5
    "

    "WE HAVE PSP & PSX GAMES, GBA, NES, SNES, ATARI, SEGA ROMS & EMULATOR"

    "One Xbox gaming console with mod chip, IR mod, and XBMC installed. Lots of games installed on the upgraded hardrive."

    "I have over 575 PSP games!!"

    "700 plus NDS games: $100"

    "it also has a modded MS25 Drive so you can play burn games if you can fix it."

     

    I’m not one to side with absolutes here, but the people who claim that mod chips are perfectly fine and legal are ignoring reality. Most modders and mod chip installers don’t use homebrew, region free, and back-up discs as primary selling points. They always say "never pay another dollar again", "download games from the net", and "back-ups included". Those are the primary selling point.

    I understand that there are a contingent of gamers who simply want to test the limits of their console, but they do not make up the majority of people using mod chips.

  12. JC says:

    Yeah, I hope you don’t work in the electronic industry at all; the DCMA won’t affect you then. If you do, then you probably will care, when a lawyer explains to you why you’re getting sued for your research or from blogging about something…

    It does need to be changed but lobbyists lobby against it and this law has been screwing people over for 10 years, there’s just much more noise about other issues than the DCMA.

  13. GoodRobotUs says:

    I suppose the thing that concerns me is that I own a DVD Recorder, I also own a tape deck of yore.

    If the ESA can pull this kind of stunt, then how long before things like DVD Recorders become illegal because it is possible to use them for illegal purposes?

    There was a furor in the 80’s about tape decks for the same reason, where the RIAA tried to imply that simply owning musical recording equipment made you a pirate, but they didn’t get away with it.

     

    After things like this, how long, do you think, before they try again?

  14. MaJeStIc_12_x says:

    I’d have to see actual advertisements used by the people selling these mod chips, but it is entirely possible that they may have been pushing sales by claiming that mod chips allow people to play copied games. They may also have been supplying the copied games themselves. In that situation, they are selling mod chips with the intent to infringe copyright.

    I know that there is a contingent of people on GP who firmly adhere to the opinion that mod chips are legally protected in the same vein that other modifications are. However, almost every mod chip I’ve seen advertised is being sold under the assumption that playing copied games is the primary use. Installing a turbocharger in your new Dodge is not primarily going to be used to break the law. To quickly dismiss the questionable legallity of mod chips (especially mod chips available for wholesale) just because your personal opinion is that mod chips are only being used for legal purposes is crass and arrogant.

    This is coming from someone who, despite not being a heavy user of homebrew, supports the development of modifications and homebrew for legal uses.

  15. Awol says:

    Funny you speak about lockpicks you do know in some states its illegal to have lockpicks unless you are licensed. They assume you having them means you are breaking or going to break the law. Funny isn’t it. The state I live in its a class 5 felony just to carry them no matter your intentions.

    BTW most states has some weird laws regarding lockpicks that follow this modchip stuff.

  16. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    Sometimes, yes. Sometimes, no.

    ——————————————————————————

    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  17. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Considering those who mod consoles do so to keep it. The chances of you buying a "modded mess" are rather slim. In twenty years you will not even haveto buy an original 360 as all the tech for it will be open to the public since all the patents will have expired. So you will be able to buy after market boxes that will not only play your 360 games, but also your PS3 and Wii games as well.

    Isn’t technology grand?

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
    Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091


    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  18. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    The problem with your logic is that some of those people only pirate to make the games available for those who can’t pay for the actual thing. It gets more people to play it and thus if they like it that’s one more good opinion for the game.

    ——————————————————————————

    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  19. Pixelantes Anonymous says:

    "The business cycle for NonStop Technologies more closely resembles that of a drug dealer than that of a provider of legitimate consumer goods."

    Yea. Just like drug dealers.

    Give me a f***ing break.

    By that logic I could compare the USCIS SWAT team to the mob. Both organizations bust their enemies heavily armed by midnight raids.

    http://pixelantes.blogspot.com/

  20. cpu64 says:

    Mod chip companies should all be DESTROYED.

    Just because you paid for the 360/xbox/PS2, it doesn’t give you the right to mod/reverse engineer it so your cheap ass can skip paying for games. (Please, if you’re a modder, don’t call yourself a gamer. You’re NOT)

    There’s a sheet of paper that came with your console that explains your rights and limitations, and that by USING the console, you’re AGREEING with its terms.

    Just quit being an asshat and buy your games like normal people do.

  21. VideolandHero says:

    But you don’t have to mod car or a shirt or a book if you get it from overseas.  Besides, I think it would be cool to get a boxed console from Japan or somewhere, rather than mess up a console from here.

    — Official Protector of Videoland!

  22. Arell says:

    That’s precisely my point.  I don’t expect things to get "worse" because I don’t see the problem to begin with.  I don’t follow blindly, I speak out against real bullshit, so I’m not a sheeple.  Yet when I think of this issue, I see nothing to get bent out of shape about.  I don’t care, because I don’t see a reason to care.

    Besides, whining on forums isn’t going to change things, either.  You can bellow all you want about supposed injustices, but unless you take actual action, you’re just as "impotent" as I am. 

  23. NovaBlack says:

    If you want to play imports, buy the console from another region..

     

    sorry.. what?… um… WHY are consoles different to anything else on the planet?

    And If you were to apply that logic equally how far do you extend it? If you moved from say the USA to the UK, would it be fair to force that person to buy a british car to drive on british roads, even if they had aperfectly good car already?

    Or how aboutcClothes? Force them to dump all their existing belongings and make them buy british clothes?

    Or books? Should they only be able to buy books that are printed in the uk? And if a book isnt printed in the UK, well… tough .. outta luck.

    Or the internet. Lets adopt a system like china, whereby we can only access websites local to our country.

     

    N what right does the manufacturer have to tell me what i can do with something ive paid for? its then legally my posession!. Would you deem it ok for a car manufacturer to tell you that you could only use accessories that they had specifically made, even if they cost roughly 10x the competitors price? Hell, if i wanted to paint my car pink and yellow, and make it play ice cream truck music, then thats up to me!. If i want to smash my car with a hammer. Thats up to me. NOT the manufacturer. Who i have already entered into a contract with, and fulfilled my obligations by handing him the cash.

    at least give some reason for your argument.

     

     

  24. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Sadly my fiar use rights trumps thier paid for laws in the DMCA ans wil be repealed in time becuse it violates OUR RIGHTS.

    I do not take to the fascist direction the corporate state is going in and will rail agisnt it all I can…

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

  25. Arell says:

    This is one of those, "I don’t really care one way or the other" issues.  Yeah, some people get all worked up about the "thought police," but I just don’t see it.  Mod chips may very well have a few legitimate uses, but not many.  Besides piracy, there’s imports.  Yet when you buy the system, you know full well that it’s only for one region only.  If you are an avid importer, import a system to go along with those games.  "Blah, blah, I can do whatever I want with my system, I payed for it!"  I just can’t get worked up about this one.

    If the law is bullshit, then the law needs to be changed.  I’ll accept that, I already said I don’t care either way.  But since it is illegal, I see no fault in them taking action against this guy’s company.  Just doing their job.  /shrug

  26. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Ah its nice to see the media mafia get such nice assitance from law enforcement  to walk all over consumer rights, modchips are still a right under fair use despite the what the illegal DMCA says. The industry needs to go after illicit profit(the sell of unlicensed software) not modchips and after market industry nor the consumer….

     

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

  27. VideolandHero says:

    If you mod your console, you are a pirate.

    If you want to play imports, buy the console from another region.  If you want to play games, buy them.  If you want to make and play homebrew, Microsoft has already gave you stuff to make it with.

    In 20 years if I wanted to get an old Xbox 360, I’d want an actual Xbox 360, not some modded mess.

    — Official Protector of Videoland!

  28. silversnowfox says:

    The future is coming my friends.  A future where every action you make is under surveillance, silently coercing your conformity.  ‘Mirror’s Edge’, ‘1984’, ‘V for Vendetta’… these are pale comparisons for what reality is becoming.  And unless we fight back, soon, we will have nothing left.

    "The only way to ensure that you keep the freedoms that you want, is to fight for all the freedoms that exist.  Freedom of speech is not just political.  The First Amendment protects not only our rights to disagree with our government, but the right of anyone to speak anything that they want.  This may mean that they speak of how some races are of people are inferior.  It may mean that they blather on about an invisible imaginary friend who created the entire universe.  But it also means that you get to talk about, what you want to talk about." – Richard Moore

    PS: Yet another day where I get to be ashamed of my government.  Seems to happen quite often these days.

  29. Derovius says:

     When I buy a product, I demand the right to strip it down to its bare nuts and make it anything I want. I refuse to lease a goddamn game system. MS is one step away from locking Xbox’s for piracy (and get away with it), I can feel it.

  30. Good Lord says:

    Ahh, those dirty "liberals". Battlecry of the confrontational meathead who’d rather pick a fight than have a civil discussion.

  31. Derovius says:

     Whats with all these liberal pansies in these discussions lately? Speak/type gently to me, I’m delicate? GTFO my internet.

  32. Michael Chandra says:

    If you make personal attacks, don’t complain about people feeling as if they’re being attacked personally. If you say "so this is about you then?" and act verbally agressive, you can expect people to not be interested in discussing with you. God knows I don’t ever since you called my father an animal and said he should be murdered.

  33. Derovius says:

     Some people are just natural muppets; the question remains, how do we turn her to be a muppet for our cause?

  34. Derovius says:

     No, you have to power off all electronic devices, not just those that actively transmit into the EMR band. Interference is interference in the eyes of the planes avionics, wifi may or may not produce a pronounced effect, but I for one dont want to die trying.

     That being said, its quite laughable that people are afraid of consoles being used to "take control" of airplanes like they are some sort of remote control car. The bomb issue is also quite amusing, and equally foolish, as extremists will use anything they can fill with explosive compounds AND take with them on a flight.

     This may sound especially harsh, but why are people so stupid? I hear someone say that terrorists can maybe cellphones into bombs and I snicker. Perhaps being an engineer allows you to realize just how inventive people can be when they want to be. Its taken the whole, "OMG" out of these stories.

  35. Derovius says:

     This is not a flamewar; indeed it is far from it. What people are doing are making you justify your position, and when you cannot give justification you feel like you’re being attacked personal, and you lock up. If you aren’t going to back your arguements properly in the face of opposition, you really shouldn’t be making them. Atleast not on the internet.

  36. Alevan says:

    Well, I did said it was a theory and correct me if I was wrong. And you have!

    I haven’t heard of ICE until… now, in all actuality. You make sense though, as the Feds would’ve had that on the news.

    Amy Levandoski

  37. E. Zachary Knight says:

    You must be thinking of laws regarding portable electronics on flights.

    No I don’t think there are any laws about electronics on flights. You just have to let them scan it as you go through customs. You can still bring your PSP, DS, or Laptop on a flight. You just have to turn off the WiFi.

    I think I do remember some old guys at DHS making such claims now. That is their job to think of new ways terrorists could kill us, so that the terrorists don’t have to expend any resourses into R and D.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
    Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091


    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  38. Red_Flag says:

    The guy wasn’t carrying electronics on a plane, he was selling them. Besides TSA and ICE have completely different spheres of influence.

    ICE is involved because it was imported goods. Again, if it was terrorism related it’d be DHS and FBI, not ICE, and we’d be getting the Feds crowing about their big bust in a televised press conference.

  39. Alevan says:

    It does but I remember a report of some kind being said years ago… it’s vague though, being so long ago.

    I can try to find it but I doubt it, being so long ago. It wouldn’t matter if it fell into the anti terrorism laws or not… The current administration is very paranoid about it, or that’s what I’ve gathered in their tactics against it. I remember I couldn’t carry shampoo home from a trip to California because some jerk wanted to make a bomb from the chemicals of something. So any liquids, I had to throw out.

    Amy Levandoski

  40. Red_Flag says:

    If they did, it wouldn’t be under ICE. It’d be the main DOJ, FBI, under DHS. ICE is involved because of the DMCA enforcement.

  41. Alevan says:

    I’m only going to say this to you — believe what you want. I don’t care. I’m not going to get in a long flame war with you and your intimidating tactics are getting you nowhere.

    Amy Levandoski

  42. E. Zachary Knight says:

    I have never heard that before. Sounds a bit to outlandish.

    I doubt that was the reasoning behind this vilification of mod chips though. The mod chip laws are the solely the domain of the DMCA and related laws. They do not fall under any anti-terrorism laws that I know of.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
    Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091


    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  43. Alevan says:

    One theory could be that, from what I remember correctly… I THINK I heard of something how someone was/could be able to mod their gaming system to control an airplane, even make it into bombs. It could be that the reason it’s so heavily looked into because they were center in the terrorism debate years ago. I remember this but it’s vague so do correct me if I’m wrong.

    That’s probably why. And you know the current administration. If it’s linked to terrorism, expect a witch hunt from the government.

    Edit: And I was more annoyed at the others trying to demonize as this person who likes segregation and doesn’t wish to challenge things. At least, thats how I felt, anyway… which is an insult since I was raised to believe in equality and saw first hand how it feels to be segregated… when the "special kids" weren’t allowed to attend classes with the others.

    Amy Levandoski

  44. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Amy,

    I wasn’t trying to make mod chipping to be some huge civil rights issue. I was simply taking a prominent example of civil disobedience bringing about real change.

    I too don’t think this is a big enough issue to have massive protests in from of the Big 3’s US head quarters, but it is something that doesn’t make any sense. There are not any laws preventing me from altering my television to function with both NTSC and PAL broadcasts. Why should I not be able to alter my console to play both NTSC and PAL games?

    That is what I am getting at. Why are game consoles treated differently than other electronics when it comes to modding?

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
    Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091


    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  45. Red_Flag says:

    Out of context? Let’s look at a direct quote: "For the record, I don’t import my games but I know people who do. I couldn’t afford such a thing being a mother making money for my nephew/son and helping my own mother stay in the house we live in. "

    Irrelevant to the argument.

    "However you may promote it… illegal activity is illegal activity and the ones who speak out about it the most are most likely the ones who’re doing the act."

    Ad hominem attack. No evidence.

    "That’s the law. You either follow it or you break it. You choose to break it, that’s your own fault if you get arrested. You seem to promote illegal activity. Kudos to you…That’s my view, however, and I doubt it’ll be changing any time soon."

    So unless that "kudos to you" is meant in a completely unsarcastic way, you are doing nothing other than saying, "It’s the law; if you don’t like it, rot in jail." Glad to see that blind obedience is still alive and well. There is no dissent! There is no dissent! Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia!

    If you want to say you are revising your statement because it doesn’t fully reflect the breadth of your opinion, fine. But don’t get up on this "out of context" high horse. In the full text of the post I quoted you made ZERO allowance for civil disobedience or for unjust laws.

  46. Derovius says:

    "That could take a long time for such a change, maybe even impossible. Being that mod chips aren’t exactly as important as gay marriage, abortion, and other matters… it could be a long time before something serious could happen. If anything, I think those issues should be solved first before something like a mod chip should even be considered in court."

     And why should any of the above be important? Because they are social issues or because the people involved whine so loud that the other topics of discussion get drowned out? Maybe we should all claim gaming as a religion and milk some rights out of the government.

    "Some people are taking my words out of context now. To me, the whole issue with segregation, the holocaust, and other bigger, more important issues are a whole different field then mod chips on a computer system. To shoot down the beliefs here(and to not respond to every attacker who’re now taking my words out of context), I don’t believe in segregation. The holocaust was real, horrible, and should have never happened. We were right to rise up back in the days of the Revolutionary War but were wrong to slaughter American Natives in the name of Christianity or other things."

     So what would make this real and horrible in your eyes? Do the police have to murder the modchippers? or only drive them into financial ruin so they live on the street? Authoritarianism is authoritarianism, be it big/small scaled, focused/broad scoped, foreign/domestic.

    "I’d rather see gay marriage legalized and for people to stop making abortion illegal before anything on a  mod chip."

     You’d rather? So this is about you then? Try thinking about more than just yourself, try thinking about the community. I don’t even own a goddamn game console to mod, but here I am kicking and spitting for their right to mod it.

     

  47. UncleMidriff says:

     In your view, is it in anyway possible to have a bad law?  A law that was ill-conceived and/or incorrectly and unfairly enforced?  If so, is the person who is affected by such a law wrong to express his or her dissatisfaction with it?

    Certainly, if a person breaks a bad law, they should not be surprised when they are caught and have to suffer the consequences.  However, that doesn’t mean they or anyone else should be happy about it.

    I think the laws that make this sort of thing illegal are absurd.  I understand that piracy needs to be illegal, but modchips simply do *not* force anyone to pirate… they have a thousand and one legitimate uses *other* than piracy.  I had a mod chip installed on my original XBox so that it could play videos and music (which I owned) from a networked computer on my fancy new HDTV.  According to law in question, this is illegal.  Can you give us a good reason why this should be illegal?

    By selling me the modchip, the seller did not force me to pirate games.  Sure, I *could* have used the mod chip to pirate games, but I *didn’t.*  I *could* take my car and start running over pedestrians, but I *don’t*, and the person who sold me the car shouldn’t be fined or sent to prison just because he sold me something I *could* do bad things with.  If there was a law that would make the selling of the car illegal, sure, he would have to choose to either follow it or break it…but that doesn’t make the law any less retarded.

  48. Alevan says:

    That could take a long time for such a change, maybe even impossible. Being that mod chips aren’t exactly as important as gay marriage, abortion, and other matters… it could be a long time before something serious could happen. If anything, I think those issues should be solved first before something like a mod chip should even be considered in court.

    Some people are taking my words out of context now. To me, the whole issue with segregation, the holocaust, and other bigger, more important issues are a whole different field then mod chips on a computer system. To shoot down the beliefs here(and to not respond to every attacker who’re now taking my words out of context), I don’t believe in segregation. The holocaust was real, horrible, and should have never happened. We were right to rise up back in the days of the Revolutionary War but were wrong to slaughter American Natives in the name of Christianity or other things.

    But, to compare a mod chip to segregation? I’m sorry, EZK, but with due respect… I couldn’t compare the two while they might have similiarities, their value of importance is, well… I don’t see it.

    I’d rather see gay marriage legalized and for people to stop making abortion illegal before anything on a  mod chip.

    To prevent more of my words being taken out of context and having my original message being butchered more, I’m not going to debate further on this.

    Amy Levandoski

  49. Derovius says:

     Soooooo, if murder is wrong, but the state makes murdering the elderly aged 56 – 100+ legal to make room for a baby boom, its alright? Interesting logic, I dare say.

  50. Alevan says:

    I DID say you could challenge the law from a response to EZK. You still need to follow it in some form, though. Some form. You guys are taking my words out of text now.

    Amy Levandoski

  51. Derovius says:

     I was thinking more along the lines of Nazi Germany and massacring millions of innocent people, but the above works as well. People who do not question the validity of the rules they adhere to deserve what they get.

  52. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Now I am not trying to say that modding your console is on the smae level of segregation, but I have to ask this:

    Do you think that segregation would have ended if noone disobeyed those laws? Do you think they should have just dealt with the laws until some kind and caring white man decided it was time to let the black people be equal with the white people?

    The reason civil disobedience (however it is still illegal to disobey a law) actual works to over turn laws is that the courts get flooded with cases of the same crime on a regular basis. This gets people’s attention and they begin to dig to the underlying issue and not just the individual cases.

    If enough people were to buy mod chips and only play games they either bought or made themselves or otherwise obtained legally, then we could start to get people’s attention that such things are not the tool of the devil, aka pirates. Get enough false positives and the government could change their mind about them.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
    Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091


    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  53. Alevan says:

    Oh, I agree! There are some pretty stupid laws out there. In fact, for your amusement. http://www.dumblaws.com/

    That out of the way… I’ll be the first to say that there are some that don’t make sense. Despite not making sense, it’s still illegal. Even if we don’t like it, I believe that it should be followed until someone can find a technicality, or prove it to be unconstitutional, etc…

    But until then, follow it and don’t let it ruin your life. That’s all I’m saying. It’s stupid to hate a law and then break it because you don’t like it(Thus, not following it for you don’t like that law).

    Amy Levandoski

  54. Alevan says:

    For the record, I don’t import my games but I know people who do. I couldn’t afford such a thing being a mother making money for my nephew/son and helping my own mother stay in the house we live in.

    However you may promote it… illegal activity is illegal activity and the ones who speak out about it the most are most likely the ones who’re doing the act.

    That’s the law. You either follow it or you break it. You choose to break it, that’s your own fault if you get arrested. You seem to promote illegal activity. Kudos to you.

    That’s my view, however, and I doubt it’ll be changing any time soon.

    Amy Levandoski

  55. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Yes it is illegal. It is also illegal to hunt whales in Oklahoma, or put a penny in your ear in Hawaii, or dry your clothes in a public parking space in DC.

    Just because it is illegal doesn’t mean it makes sense.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
    Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091


    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  56. Red_Flag says:

    No law should ever be challenged, you say? Always follow the law? The government is always right?

    Do you still pay your Stamp and Tea taxes to King George? You support taxation without representation? Or are you simply content to let others break the law for you to make your life more comfortable?

  57. Bennett Beeny says:

    I love these folks who seriously think that Britain has ridiculous laws like that.  ‘No knives in the kitchen’ – I mean how daft do you have to be to believe that?

  58. GoodRobotUs says:

    Actually, the law in the UK only applies to knives on the person in the street, not in the Kitchen. You can even carry a knife in your car, as long as it is stored in the Boot and cannot be accessed easily, since Fishermen frequently use them.

    Having a knife in your kitchen is not illegal in the UK, even in rough neighbourhoods, nor has anyone ever been arrested, let alone incarcerated, for having one there.

  59. Michael Chandra says:

    I "can" use a DvD to store files. I "can" use a DvD to store movies and songs that aren’t protected by copyright laws. I "can" store a big database on it, or a game that you’re allowed to non-commercially spread the installation files from. (Like, say, Ragnarok Online.)

    How sure are you people actually do that? Should we outlaw all writable disks because they potentially can be used for illegal activity? Storing illegally downloaded movies and songs, making isos to run downloaded games from, it’s all possible. But there’s plenty of legal activity possible. Should we outlaw them nevertheless?

  60. MaJeStIc_12_x says:

    How are you so sure that people are using mod chips for legal purposes? Are you trying to take a completely objective view of the legallity of mod chips? They "can" be used for homebrew. The "can" be used to make back-ups of legally owned games. They "can" be used for so-and-so legal purpose. The real question is, are they being used that way?

    Why not sell a mod chip that does not allow copyright protection to be circumvented? Do you think a mod chip that ONLY allowed hombrew and region-free play would sell?

  61. Red_Flag says:

    Mod chip manufacturers don’t have a lobbyist and millions to spend on filling the warchests of elected officials in DC. Gun manufacturers have more than one lobbyist and plenty of millions. Hence the disparity in the laws.

  62. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    Seconded.

    ——————————————————————————

    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  63. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    The argument isn’t over the fact that it is used often, but rather over the fact that someone is publicly displaying it in a negative light and acting on reactions, such as people other than myself appearing on Derovius’ Emo List along with Dave, Father, BrokenScope, and some other person but I can’t remember the name.

    ——————————————————————————

    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  64. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    That was worse than the ones I did, but it’s the thought that counts. 

    ——————————————————————————

    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  65. HarmlessBunny says:

    I will respectfully disagree with you there. I don’t find it as such, but you are perfectly fine believing that. Your beliefs indeed…just I ask don’t call everyone emo for doing something you don’t like. Thank you!

  66. hayabusa75 says:

    The operative phrase, of course, being "once in a while".

    "There is no sin except stupidity." – Oscar Wilde

  67. DavCube says:

    ….what?? This looks a hell of a lot like an argument to me. How the crap does that look close to ‘hugging and cuddling?’

    Your use of the word emo is completely ass-backwards. If you keep attacking people here for the use of a widely-known internet meme, you seriously just don’t belong here at all, and it wouldn’t surprise me if somewhere in the next few weeks or so, you’d be slammed with the banhammer for never being on-topic.

    Facepalming is BODY-LANGUAGE, for God’s sake. It’s supposed to be HUMOROUS. You’re on the internet. Can you let people make a freaking JOKE once in a while?

  68. Derovius says:

     You know what else conveys frustration when dealing with absolute stupidity? Words. Not this emo-action in my text garbage. We are one step away from people hugging and snuggling and crap in these responses, and I for one won’t let it get that far.

  69. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    "I thought facepalming was symbolic of frustration and dealing with absolute stupidity."

    So did I. Clearly we were wrong.

    ——————————————————————————

    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  70. HarmlessBunny says:

    Curiousity compells me to ask: Why do you beleive that facepalming would be considered emo? I thought facepalming was symbolic of frustration and dealing with absolute stupidity.

  71. GoodRobotUs says:

    Nope, you see a report about people actually selling pirated software and getting caught, and you’ll pretty much see unanimous support for the act of arresting them. Piracy we are against, but, to be honest, I haven’t seen any evidence of actual piracy here, just evidence of a company selling Mod Chips, which, whilst illegal (thanks to the very organisations doing the arresting), are not ‘piracy’ in any shape or form.

  72. ZippyDSMlee says:

    Well thats all well and fine….but…how many people read Chinese?

    The low cost localizations are generally in a few local languages , if not tis really the companies own fault for doing it incorrectly in the market they made…..
    Instead of locking regions in a anti consumer scheme to price gouge focus on the world wide market sell at a smaller cost but at a higher volume, the world wide sales will make up for any issues poorer regions and if you do not cover some localities you’ll sale tot hat region by proxy making more money than by fussing over every last detail…. much like the music industry has learned you can not burdon the populace with screwy DRM the media industry will learn you can not screw with the populace with screwy inept price gouging schemes…

    The media mafia needs to focus on saleing to the public at a volume not policing media and nickeling and dimming them….

     

    I is fuzzy brained mew =^^=
    http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/
    (in need of a bad overhaul)

  73. NovaBlack says:

    still.. not the modchip seller ‘stealing’ anything from the businesses, thatd be the end user.

    And even then, with regard to the end user the term ‘stealing’ is highly debatable.  If they can release Get Smart for $0.25, and still make a profit, then they are still making a profit, when the end user buys it for $0.25 and ships it over. 

    In this case its their own fault they are selling the game for roughly 45 times the price in the american market.  If somebody wants to buy it cheaper elsewhere, more power to them, and quite frankly we should protect the rights of the consumer. If we cant shop elsewhere then companies could charge us extortionate amounts for products, and we would have little choice. Imagine this in relation to more essential purchases.

  74. Derovius says:

     Not so, if MGM Studios wants to release Get Smart in China for $0.25, and someone in North America buys it, ships it over and mods his game console to play Asia-encoded movies, he has now saved $20.95 – $0.25 = $20.70 – shipping/blah blah blah.

     Now MGM is up in arms because their little anti-piracy tactic of not fucking over consumers in China has drifted to North America and blown up in their face.

  75. Wolvenmoon says:

    If anything the modchips help the companies. I haven’t bought next gen consoles because of all this bullsh**

  76. slowpokex2 says:

    God, they would seem to value money more then the lifes of other people, sad, very sad. Also, I would fight the rationale for this mission, if they base wrong doing on "The business cycle for NonStop Technologies more closely resembles that of a drug dealer than that of a provider of legitimate consumer goods. The sales volume and turnover being conducted by NonStop Technologies is indicative of the sale of a highly sought after and scarce product…", then just by swapping out "NonStop Technologies" with "OPEC", one could say this also "The business cycle for OPEC more closely resembles that of a drug dealer than that of a provider of legitimate consumer goods. The sales volume and turnover being conducted by OPEC is indicative of the sale of a highly sought after and scarce product…", the so called specialist isn’t so smart to use such a broad and generalization of a business, that can so easily be used for any other target they deem worthy of being a suspect of whatever they can come up with, hilarious. Also, the wording that the specialist used, smarter people would call a "FREE MARKET ECONOMY", "Supply and Demand", and etc. I guess those modders didn’t donate enough to the republican and President George W. Bush’s piggie bank to get a get out of jail free card like so many others do, sad, isn’t it. "Mod Here! Mod Now!"

  77. shady8x says:




    They have already applied it to plastic bags for sandwiches and weights for measuring food…

    It is called the drug paraphenelia law…

    As for knives, the gun lobby has protected them in this nation… usually knives are banned after guns… What is amusing is that the drug laws like the one mentioned above were only made possible by the banning of some guns back in the 30s…

    In Britain which banned guns, having a knife in a bad neighborhood (even one in your kitchen) could result in long-term stay at a prison…

  78. GoodRobotUs says:

    Wow, that’s pretty much one step away from thought crime really.

    ‘By buying this product, it’s possible to break the law, therefore you bought this product to break the law with.’

    I hope they never apply that kind of crap to kitchen knives.

  79. Wolvenmoon says:

    The modchips are any that can do the following:

    1.Play imports

    2.Play copies

    3.Load homebrew

    Basically, if it modifies the console to add functionality they restricted, it’s illegal.

  80. Firebird says:

    What type of mod chips are we talking about here?

    Something along the lines of a Magic Memory Stick or Pandora (for PSP), or perhaps maybe the R4 (Nintendo DS)?

    For whatever consoles they may be, is there any type of blacklist for such chips (to differentiate from those that use them for homebrew)?

    Whatever the case, I wouldn’t want to consficate my PSP, just under certain assumptions that because the XMB (home screen) looks pimped out, that I will possibly use it for piracy.

  81. Wolvenmoon says:

    Amy, this excludes so many people.

     

    Banning modchips is much like if wal-mart got it legislated that baking bread with yeast in X (sony, nintendo, microsoft) ovens was illegal unless that yeast and any yeast products had a wal-mart seal of approval on it.

    While that obviously affects bread, yeast is also used in the brewing of beer and other alcohol(open source). (Homebrew) Alcohol is used in making vinegar(Game mods), and vinegar in all sorts of things. and suddenly wal-mart has a major chokehold on all culinary activities.

    So what if wal-mart decides it doesn’t like grandpa’s old time beer, who has had to pay wal-mart enormous amounts of money and hike the cost of his beer (games cost 60+ dollars a pop now-a-days) to get ahold of his yeast?

    Well, the answer is: grandpa’s goin’ out of business.

    The ONLY reason these laws passed was a huge amount of ignorance on our politicians part, and the vast majority of people not realizing the ramifications.

    Right now there are some people that use modchips for piracy. I always wanted to get one so I could make a copy of my games and archive them in the closet. I do so on my computer.

    The fact of the matter is these laws are seriously damaging the U.S.A.’s technological standing.

    People screw up, even politicians. The difference is other people fix their mistakes, politicians have to be beaten with legislation.

  82. GoodRobotUs says:

    I suppose the question here is, where did this law come from?

    The answer to that is millions spent by these organisations lobbying politicians to make these devices illegal. This isn’t something that was identified as a threat, as such, it was something that companies considered may impinge on their profit margins by some small degree if used unscrupulously by certain individuals.

    There are certainly those who perform illegal acts with Mod-chips, there are also those who certainly perform illegal acts with knives/guns etc, but just like ‘Guns don’t kill people’, Mod-chips don’t download illegal games, it’s people that do that.

  83. Derovius says:

    "Well, good. It IS an illegal chip and while I wouldn’t care if they were chips to let you play a game you legally imported from another country but… mod chips to play pirated games?"

     No, the chip is illegal because they lobbied to make it illegal. What it does is overcomes regional encoding, as well as copyright measures, opening the system up for the user do as they please with it.

     By comparison, say you purchase a diesel vehicle from Ford, and 6 months later you install a turbocharger to get better fuel economy of it. But Ford now says "no no, less strain on the engine means we make less money in parts. Lets make it illegal to modify our vehicles." A week after installing said turbocharger, Ford kicks in your front door and drags you away for "altering" your vehicle. You legally purchased this vehicle, you legally purchased this upgrade/modification and legally you installed it yourself/paid someone to do.

     The entire reason you are arrested is because you prevented them from milking every ounce of $$$ out of you.

     Moreover, mod’ed systems can run O/S that makes it possible to play DOS games on the console through a Linux interface (re: Homebrew). There is no theft going on, Linux is free to use and you have to find your own DOS games to put into it. But its still illegal. Does that make sense to you?

    "Despite whatever excuse it may be, this is some victory for both the consumer and the company. After all, with less illegal stuff like this… maybe there will be less things like DRM that’re enforced down our throats(despite the fact that they don’t work anyway!)"

     Heh, not likely. Games and DVDs will be regionally restricted now and forever, so long as nonsense like this goes on. If you go to Europe or Japan, and buy some media, it won’t work on your home system. Period. What the above mod chips do is let you play your games/movies on the system. Your games, which you bought with your $$$. Seems a little stupid that you have to buy a Japanese system to play Japanese games/movies.

  84. Alevan says:

    Well, good. It IS an illegal chip and while I wouldn’t care if they were chips to let you play a game you legally imported from another country but… mod chips to play pirated games?

    Despite whatever excuse it may be, this is some victory for both the consumer and the company. After all, with less illegal stuff like this… maybe there will be less things like DRM that’re enforced down our throats(despite the fact that they don’t work anyway!)

    Amy Levandoski

  85. Red_Flag says:

    I notice that unlike other modchip busts there is no mention (yet) of selling/giving games on the side. I doubt they would go after him solely on DMCA — I don’t think it’s ever been done before. Maybe try to tie it to tax evasion?

  86. Derovius says:

     I believe that the companies backing these raids saw a man making 6+ figures a year, with no kickback to them, and they saw red. How dare he make money off their IP in a way they couldn’t exploit. How dare he?

  87. E. Zachary Knight says:

    Now it is time to pose a new question.

    Did this guy/business knowingly sell these mod chips to pirates? For all he knew he was providing them to the homebrew community or to people whe play imports. How is he supposed to know they would pirate.

    This should be something protected under the safe harbor clause of the DMCA, but unfortunately no it is not.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
    MySpace Page: http://www.myspace.com/okceca
    Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1325674091


    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
    Rusty Outlook
    Random Tower
    My Patreon

  88. Red_Flag says:

    Keep a lid on the national coverage, get them to plea out, build further precedent. No oversight, the Feds win.

  89. Derovius says:

     They are probably keeping this lowkey for a reason. You don’t have to justify your actions as often when fewer people know whats going on, am I right?

  90. Icehawk says:

    Hmmm.  Understood.  Seems I over reacted. 

    Kind of curious though what happened to the Freedom of Information Act?  (This was a national group that did this sting/net as I understand it).  It was set into law for specifically this purpose.  In ensure information with which to attempt to prevent political corruption and abuse of power.   Not sure why it is still hidden (shoved under the carpet) as this is not exactly a matter of National Security. 

  91. Derovius says:

     Osama isn’t stealing hard earned $$$ from big business and forcing them to NOT get their 6 figure Christmas bonuses. Who is the real terrorist here?

  92. slowpokex2 says:

    OMFG, don’t these clowns have better things to do, like trying to get f-ing Osama bin laden dead or alive already. Great use of tax payers money, have the f-ing homeland security go and raid a modding chip business worth a few million a year, and ignore the f-ing terrorists inside and outside of the country, that killed a couple thousand americans, misson completed. Good job, president George W. Bush and Homeland Security, that’s way to bring those terrorist modders to justice…lol. America is stuck on piracy like it’s stuck on oil, Big Oil can rob us blind and we’ll still coming back for more, our dirty little secret, it’s quite sad, but oh so ironic.

  93. Shadow D. Darkman says:

    Idiots, all of them…

    ——————————————————————————

    "Game on, brothers and sisters." -Leet Gamer Jargon

  94. Icehawk says:

    Odd.  This is how long after the search and siezure and this news suddenly pops up out of the blue.  Admittedly they had to have something to point at to show that they had proper cause for the mass "net",  instead of harrashing oh say normal US citizens. 

    There are a few flaws though. 

    1) They point at how much was in the account but not at expendages, possibly saving etc.  

    2) They are estimating for a year.  Um guys ever hear the joke;  "An elephant is a mouse built to Goverment specifications"? ie goverment tends to blow things out of proportion and remember $300 wrenchs and other things that our beloved goverment tossed money away on. 

    3) No idea how much this mass net cost tax payers (you can bet their "allies" in the ESA and game makes (cough EA, cough) did not pay for this).   But I would be willing to bet to cost far more then the 2.5 million they "protected" for our ecomony.   

    4) Since they cannot go over the Chinese company then they need to slap the hand of someone. 

    Have a better idea.  How about tracking these chips and taxing them?  Would be willing to give odds that the goverment knows they cannot stop them all anymore than they are drugs.  Are they are threat to our society?  No? So why not go the other way and make money to help our ecomony instead of trying to play "smack the mole".  Oh wait of course the DMCA.. idiots.  Costing more then it is protecting and biting the hand that feeds. 

  95. gamepolitics says:

    Actually, they still haven’t released anything.

    What little I know is what I dug up myself, like this.


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