Student Faces Ten-Year Sentence for Modding Consoles

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Student Faces Ten-Year Sentence for Modding Consoles

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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.

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So, how did he mod them? Was it to get free DLC and shit like that, or some binary mod just to improve performance?

I agree with the last statement, to be facing 10 years for modding a bloody console just seems completely ridiculous.

The police should really work on catching real criminals rather than chasing up cases like this, which is a best a stretch of the DMCA.

I mean if he were trying to sell tehm on at profit its one thing but Modding isn't a new fad.

Holy crap i just transferred out of that school lol. Well i doubt they will throw the maximum penalty at him, so strange that this is a local story and i havent heard a single thing about it...

This is unreasonable.

10 years? Hell, to warrant that, he'd have to have been selling these:

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NoMoreSanity:
So, how did he mod them? Was it to get free DLC and shit like that, or some binary mod just to improve performance?

Agreed. I'd like some full details for clarification.

While piracy (I'm assuming that that's what the mod allowed him to do) is wrong, 10 years (when as the article says some murderers get less jail time) is a totally over the top punishment. Talk about not matching the punishment to the crime.

What be this prison tomfoolery? Robbing people of their freedom... Bah! Before you know it; they'll be taking away our lives as well. Crazy, crazy kids...

--Xvito, keeping it excellent.

They got the'yr money for it, so why the fuck would they care what the man does with it.

Xvito:
What be this prison tomfoolery? Robbing people of their freedom... Bah! Before you know it; they'll be taking away our lives as well. Crazy, crazy kids...

--Xvito, keeping it excellent.

You won't let signatures die will you...?

Anyway, this is very retarded. If he was selling them ok, but if it was for him and he wasn't stealing=retarded. People can rape and/or kill someone and not face anything like this. 10 YEARS IN JAIL?? How dumb can you get. It's all over GAME consoles. NOTHING IMPORTANT!! AT ALL! *continues going on but is too profane for this site*

the modding almost always is to be able to run pirated games, which in most cases are copies of original discs, i had a chip installed in my ps2 for a few years, the bad thing is that the console will most probably have a life time much shorter that an unmoded console.

also, if you check the net, you can download games for almost any console, burn that in a disk and you can play it in a modded console

i have to get in the side of the law with this one, here in mexico pricess have gone over the top because those dam pirates have a full market and no one cares, i dont like to buy pirated games (because they sell the discs too) i remember that after my ps2 died of early and i wasnt able to check the warranty i had to buy a new one, unmodded of course, and i never had problems with that console, the quality of the original games is amazing compared to the pirated ones, i hate pirates, but anywhay, a pirate market will surelly make pricess higer in any country that doenst have full support from the company so i side with the authorities.

The thing I find really interesting about this topic is if the OP is against piracy, generally most of the posters will be dead set against it too. Saying how 10 years for piracy is a just, fair punishment.
As the OP said he thinks it is a joke to get 10 years when murderers get less, all of a sudden most posters are agreeing with that.

On Topic: I have always said these anti piracy laws are a joke. No matter if it is movies, music or gaming. You could walk up and punch britney spears in the face a few times (something I imagine a lot of us would want to do) and face a lesser maximum punishment than if you downloaded all of her music (something none of us want to do) so the guy has modded hardware which he paid for. That in itself (outside the US) is not illegal. So at most they should just confiscate items and be on their way. Maybe check on him now and then.

Sgt. Dante:
I mean if he were trying to sell tehm on at profit its one thing but Modding isn't a new fad.

Malygris:
"modifying for personal financial gain technology affecting control or access to a copyrighted work."

He was in fact doing it for financial gain. Sounds like he ran a modding service, where people would send him their consoles and pay him to get them modded. If it were just some guy modding his own console, nobody would care - why would they even be investigating that, and for that matter, how? - it's the fact that he was actively spreading these mods for profit. Like someone who manufactures and sells mod chips.

As for the sentence length, you have to realize that the US is above all a capitalist nation. Murder is no big deal, but when you steal money from American Businesses, they won't go easy on you.

Kriptonite:

Xvito:
What be this prison tomfoolery? Robbing people of their freedom... Bah! Before you know it; they'll be taking away our lives as well. Crazy, crazy kids...

--Xvito, keeping it excellent.

You won't let signatures die will you...?

Anyway, this is very retarded. If he was selling them ok, but if it was for him and he wasn't stealing=retarded. People can rape and/or kill someone and not face anything like this. 10 YEARS IN JAIL?? How dumb can you get. It's all over GAME consoles. NOTHING IMPORTANT!! AT ALL! *continues going on but is too profane for this site*

he had over a dosen consoles, believe me, it wasn´t for his personal use.

Customs officials aren't the brightest tools in the shed. He'd have to have done something really stupid, like put a big ad in the local paper for his services. Which means he was asking to get caught.

Flionk:

Sgt. Dante:
I mean if he were trying to sell tehm on at profit its one thing but Modding isn't a new fad.

Malygris:
"modifying for personal financial gain technology affecting control or access to a copyrighted work."

He was in fact doing it for financial gain. Sounds like he ran a modding service, where people would send him their consoles and pay him to get them modded. If it were just some guy modding his own console, nobody would care - it's the fact that he was actively spreading these mods for profit. Like someone who manufactures and sells mod chips.

As for the sentence length, you have to realize that the US is above all a capitalist nation. Murder is no big deal, but when you steal money from American Businesses, they won't go easy on you.

Sad state of affairs really isn't it?

But it's not like any of the companies lost any business on these products, they were still bought and were anything to go wrong the owner is shit outta luck cause they'd have void the warranty.

I just think there's such a thing as taking it too far.

How is it that the DS Pirate Guy got a 2-and-a-half year sentence for pirating DS games, but this guy gets a 10 year sentence for modding consoles? I'd always thought the two offenses were pretty much equal on the proverbial Crime Scale.

Malygris:
"Playing with games in this way is not a game - it is criminal," said I.C.E. agent Robert Schoch.

Oh Mai Gawd, I'm sure we was just oozing to make that pun all his life!

If Flionk is to be believed, I don't sympathize with him going to jail. However I do agree that 10 is so overboard that you're in a shark nest. Maybe 2, but then again I'm sure people would claim that would be too much :S

Bah, it's a good time to move against anyone in the gaming community is all. This crime is convenient for the anti-gaming media and political people. They make an example of this guy and everyone goes along with it, they know they can keep pushing their Thompsonesque agendas.

Don't get me wrong-I'm not saying what he did was awesome (modding *for profit* is the thing I don't approve of). But usually when someone copies something illegally (books, magazines, movies), they don't get slapped with 10 years in jail. There are countries that have an entire economy based around illegal copying. Why not go after them? Oh wait, people won't tolerate that. Way to go guys-continue to pick on the little person.

Your article doesn't say what the modded consoles were capable of doing, this makes it difficult to form an opinion of the situation.

He was doing something that is illegal and he knew it was wrong. A stiff punishment to be sure, but hardly undeserved.

10 years? screw that, I don't care what the consoles do when modded, 10 years is nonsense.

here in mexico pricess have gone over the top because those dam pirates have a full market and no one cares

Yeah because it is not as if games are kept at a higher rate for the hell of it. Blaming piracy for poor sales or the high price of games is a age old dirty tactic. If you actually believe high prices are because of piracy then more fool you.

the quality of the original games is amazing compared to the pirated ones

The quality of the data is exactly the same. Unless you are talking PC games in which they remove DRM so infact the quality of the pirated ones is better.
I have never understood how some people actually think that pirated games are missing shit. People have claimed they are missing characters, extra levels, tonnes of cool shit. It is a exact copy of the data. -.-;;;

Besides, mod chips are also good for other territories that want to play alternate versions of games. I do not know if they still do it now but back in the PSX/PS2 ages different countries would quite often get different versions of games.

Flionk:
He was in fact doing it for financial gain. Sounds like he ran a modding service, where people would send him their consoles and pay him to get them modded. If it were just some guy modding his own console, nobody would care - why would they even be investigating that, and for that matter, how? - it's the fact that he was actively spreading these mods for profit. Like someone who manufactures and sells mod chips.

Exactly. Well said.

It just like movie pirating. The feds aren't going to get anyone that's just copying for themselves. They are going to get people that are copying and distributing (i.e: seeding torrents or selling discs).

avykins:
Besides, mod chips are also good for other territories that want to play alternate versions of games. I do not know if they still do it now but back in the PSX/PS2 ages different countries would quite often get different versions of games.

This being the only LEGITIMATE reason to mod a console. I'd still like to play the PS2 Macross game.

Jumplion:

Malygris:
"Playing with games in this way is not a game - it is criminal," said I.C.E. agent Robert Schoch.

Oh Mai Gawd, I'm sure we was just oozing to make that pun all his life!

I facepalmed hard when I read that. I bet his name got put in for promotion for looking "clever" when he used that line as well.

Malygris:
Full details surrounding the case haven't yet come out but at this stage

I'd be interested to know the full details, but if he was modding people's consoles for profit I can see why they'd arrest him.

10 years though? Eh...bit excessive, even if it is just to make an example. If he does get that it might get reduced on appeal though.

Jimmyjames:

avykins:
Besides, mod chips are also good for other territories that want to play alternate versions of games. I do not know if they still do it now but back in the PSX/PS2 ages different countries would quite often get different versions of games.

This being the only LEGITIMATE reason to mod a console. I'd still like to play the PS2 Macross game.

Not so. I have a modded PSX and thus have a fair selection of backed up games. I play the back ups and my originals all stay nice and perfect and collectible.
Besides the argument that if you mod a console you are automatically a pirate is absolute crap.
If that were the case then the main reason people have CD/DVD writers and burning software must be because they are pirates. You but a 2TB HD, you won't ever need that unless you are pirating shit.
Basically as long as there is 1 other legitimate reason for doing something then people have no right to automatically judge.

Jimmyjames:
He was doing something that is illegal and he knew it was wrong. A stiff punishment to be sure, but hardly undeserved.

This. Modding consoles and playing games without paying for them is basically stealing intellectual property.

That said, "hello pot, my name is kettle..." ;)

avykins:
The thing I find really interesting about this topic is if the OP is against piracy, generally most of the posters will be dead set against it too. Saying how 10 years for piracy is a just, fair punishment.
As the OP said he thinks it is a joke to get 10 years when murderers get less, all of a sudden most posters are agreeing with that.

On Topic: I have always said these anti piracy laws are a joke. No matter if it is movies, music or gaming. You could walk up and punch britney spears in the face a few times (something I imagine a lot of us would want to do) and face a lesser maximum punishment than if you downloaded all of her music (something none of us want to do) so the guy has modded hardware which he paid for. That in itself (outside the US) is not illegal. So at most they should just confiscate items and be on their way. Maybe check on him now and then.

Haha this genuinely made me laugh, thanks! Now I can think about punching that insane, inane, bimbo in the face whilst I sleep!

I can't stand the severity of the DMCA. Piracy isn't even as bad as stealing real goods yet the sentences tend to be worse (the reasons are all over the internet, so I'm not going to get into a large debate). It's just the government's pathetic "OH SHI-!" reaction to a trend they can't control.

I think a few of you are missing a key word here maximum. This is precisely the reason why crimes don't have a set sentence. From the facts given it's doubtful the judge with throw the maximum sentence at him. He will probably get a year or two of probation and hefty fines. So enough with this OMG 10 YEARS! tomfoolery. Now if he actually got sentenced to that than, you can come back and complain about it.

I agree that the sentence is too harsh, but he was definitely up to no good. I mean, nobody with 12 modded consoles is using it for personal use; he was obviously running some kind of modding business. I do think that nobody would have cared if he had just been using it himself.

The extremity of the punishments for such types of piracy are indicative of government priorities. It is more important to punish people who allegedly hurt sales than people who commit violent crime, actual burglary, etc.

The other option is that this isn't so much that they think it is a worse crime but that it is so much harder to prosecute this crime than others so anytime they do they try to make an example out of the person. The problem is, all the numbers they use to try and figure out how much piracy really goes on and how much this piracy effects the real money loss for companies is cooked up by the companies themselves.

Almost every pirate I have known would not buy the product in question if they could not pirate it. They would rather go without and they would go without if they could not find a way to pirate it, like a friend I had who modded a PS2 but could not mod a PS3 so he did not buy one or any games for it. So I am skeptical of data that indicates that piracy is killing entertainment industries.

Malygris:
"they can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers."

What the fuck did he do, put C4 in it or something?

How is modding a game console dangerous to your health or safety?

Anyway...I guess I'm just glad modding PC games won't get the FBI on you.
I can think of a lot of people who'd end up getting shot for "resisting arrest" by yelling "What the fuck did I even do?"

MaxTheReaper:

Malygris:
"they can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers."

What the fuck did he do, put C4 in it or something?

How is modding a game console dangerous to your health or safety?

If I had to take a guess, I imagine he is referring to that fact that you are modding the electronics while not being certified to do so. In theory your changes could start a fire or something along that line.

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