Mod Chip Crackdown In The US.

I got quite a few emails about this, but didn’t have a chance to check it out until now. It seems that the feds have been raiding various mod shops and individuals who’ve been doing mods for others. I’m a fan of open, moddable and repairable hardware, so this is sad news to me. There’s a first hand account from one of the raided individuals along with a decent commentary on the issue sent in by [xantium].
This might sound a bit strange, but take the time to let your congress critter know what you think about this issue. Don’t expect them to understand the technical background, but letting them know that you’re unhappy with the execution of the DMCA and that labeling legitimate uses for mod-chip technology as illegal is the equivalent to outlawing home car repair might make a difference.

36 thoughts on “Mod Chip Crackdown In The US.

  1. That makes me sad, but two things make me sadder.
    1) that I didn’t really think about it seriously until now, and
    2) a law can be made so ambiguous that it can be interpreted like this…

  2. Oh. My. Goodness.

    I am definitely e-mailing Congress about this, and putting it on my website, and Digging it, etc. This is ridiculous.

    I wish there was a way for the entire DMCA to go right out the window. It is tying the hands of so many programmers around the world. And now it is hitting modders. Oh nose…

  3. Making hardware mods illegal is horrible. Like the summary said.. thats like outlawing working on your car at home. I like to work on cars, I like to hack on electronics and other mechanical stuffs. What scares me is, how far away are we from a time when the FCC/congress/whoever says: “You can’t do any hardware hacking on anything with electricity”?

  4. Boo hoo, big crocodile tears for a guy that KNEW he was doing something that could get him in trouble. the turd did not even have the balls to marry the girl he knocked up.

    I dont feel bad for him, he’s stupid. I feel bad for his grandma as he set them up for being raided.


  5. This is BS! My website has been running off a modded Xbox running linux for years. Now all of a sudden I can be arrested for it? There are no copywrited files on my Xbox at all. There are legitimate uses for a modded Xbox!

  6. Stinky- have you considered the reason the dude isn’t married to his kid’s mother, may be in part the choice of the mother? Respectfully your ragging him for not being married is the kind of simplistic thinking, that was part of the passage of the DMCA, with it’s too broad a brush.

  7. Well, I’m pissed now, because apparently they include swap magic as a mod chip, that’s bull, I can kinda understand stuff like ICE, but Swap Magic? I still have to buy the f-ing import, now the only way to play them is to buy a foreign PS2

  8. It frikn retarded, you are paying a money fo consoles. cars, computers etc. does that do not make you owner of them? if so why you cand do whatever you want to those things? cars have to meet some sandarts to be street legal, but even if they are not you still can do whatever you want to them. Why consoles are different? EULA? nobody is reading 10 pages of document when they want to turn on console, and another 10 when they putting the game in…
    so what was the definition of “free country” again?

  9. I know games of World of Warcraft “rent” you their game and characters, so that selling anything from it is illegal. I wouldn’t doubt if Microsoft had something similar, where you were “renting” the system and games, and anything you did to it was considered destroying another person’s property.


    4. Making hardware mods illegal is horrible. Like the summary said.. thats like outlawing working on your car at home. I like to work on cars, I like to hack on electronics and other mechanical stuffs. What scares me is, how far away are we from a time when the FCC/congress/whoever says: “You can’t do any hardware hacking on anything with electricity”?


    If this day ever comes us geeks will unite and create our own open source video game console and system. Kind of like the GP2X, or linux, although that is not a console.

    Maybe that time is almost here…

  10. I am interested in writing to my congressman and senator, does anyone have a form letter that I could use to get started? I think that if someone was willing to write a form letter, then a lot more people would be willing to print it out and send it off.

  11. @jbot: There’s probably the best chance of that happening with someone like Ron Paul in office. I don’t know if he’s the only one that opposes virtually all draconian legislation like the DMCA, Patriot Act, etc., but people like him could help restore our freedoms.

    I’m not trying to say you should only support him – support your freedom-loving public official of choice :)

  12. Quote
    Spend all the US money on freaking mod chip crimes, what a place we have nothing else to worry about than people modding there consoles.

    Ya, because we just have to get all those nerdy guys out of their mother’s basements, you don’t know what kind of hardened criminals they are. *rolls eye*
    Why don’t they go after drug dealers and murderers first? If they were all off the streets, then I might consider cracking down on modchips, but only the ones being used for illegal stuff And I don’t mean the crap like it being illegal to copy your DVDs to it, thats retarded, but if you download or rent the games and copy them, then I can understand taking action against that. Its when they get mad at you for converting a DVD that you legally bought so that you can watch it on your PSP or ipod.

  13. Offtopic: Wow, I hope some of you don’t actually write to your congressman. Of course, that is assuming that you are old enough to vote in the first place. Seriously, check your spelling before you post.

    On topic: This is really sad. Unfortunately, technology laws are being written, voted on, and passed by people who have no idea about the actual technology. In reality, an email is probably as good as a letter since they probably have an assistant to print out the email for them to read. Just remember to put your age, your address, and your name on the letter so that they know it is a real person that they represent (and is voting for/against them). This makes me want to backup a DVD right now.

  14. The congressional offices actually put more weight on a physical letter than an e-mail, so sending a letter will have more impact. Obviously the letter needs to be coherent and not sound like it is coming from a blathering idiot.

  15. Wow, what a jumpy crowd. I want some more details before I start pointing fingers and calling my congressman.

    the “feds”, who are they: The FCC, CIA, FBI, who?

    Did they say what law was being violated. What is the actual offense? I can’t have my congressman fight a law unnless I know what law to have him fight.

    My first suspicions are the the FCC was the ones doing the confiscating. Under FCC regulations once a device is FCC approved, any “mods” to that device also need to be approved or the device loses its approval. Modding an approved device other than as approved is illegal. Software modifications do not count unless they cause the device to emit radio frequency (RF) energy above the approved levels for the device (most electronics emit some RF).

    I am not 100% familiar with what the mods in question are, but that gives you something to think about.

  16. I admire moding consoles.I know pirateing is ilegal and they should crack down on that,but so what if people want to take apart there xbox360 or mess with computer chips!Like another coment said: (people like to mess with cars) and my xbox 360 is like my car so why should the FEDS take my 360 because im upgradeing it like puting a V8 in a V6 car.

  17. Why not just give them what they want? They think we’re all a bunch of no good ruffians destroying the world as they know it. Let’s start by taking down their website. We all have nothing better to do…

    Take down their site guys, and when they get another one up, take it down again.

  18. I will not be sending any letter of complaint to my respective representative. Not because I don’t care but because I don’t want that letter being the first thing put in a file with my name on it filed at an headquarters somewhere. yeh. have fun w/ that.

  19. P.S. do we not have anything better do to with our tax money. I.E. fight wars, fight drugs, and how did we elect a bunch of @$$ holes that wont let us enhance the capabilities of our electronics ?

  20. I’m glad this got posted here. And I’m even happier that some of you are writing your congress people about it. This isn’t the first time I’ve written mine about what I thought of a ridiculous tech law, but this one kind of hit home with me because at least 2 of the people that got hit I speak to on a weekly basis and I know nether one of them were pirates but just people who loved console modding and ran a shop on the side to help others who were interested.

    the h.a.d. crowd might not all be console modders but I have to wonder how long before crap like this prevents us from even owning a soldering iron with registering it like a gun. BTW they confiscated all soldering equipments as part of the raids, as well as titles to cars, deeds to houses and other crap that really has nothing else to do with evidence related to the “crime” but royal f-cks up these people’s lives.

  21. Problem is, most people who mod xbox’s or whatever, download illegal games and hurt the gaming business.
    Just like how bit-torrent networks have become infected with movies and people download them, and don’t even rent movies.

    Hacking will always exist though. It is just when hacking becomes about money, stealing and cheating corporations out of money, while turning a profit is when they get upset.

    They are never going to come after the sole individual who hacks a Xbox or Xbox 360 with Linux and runs a webserver. They want to take out the guy modding consoles for idiots who can’t do it themselves. It is so easy to download a game from a bit-torrent vs. so difficult to back-up a game.

    They aren’t going after the hacker who backs up his games and runs linux. Unfortunately, just like with drugs, someone gets it is always someone who gets too greedy. For instance: if the hacking scene was small, nobody would care. But these teams come out, make products for the masses, with the intent of making lots of money. Just like with unscheduled drugs: some dumbass wants lots of money, makes a bunch of some unknown drug, and bam, the DEA is all over it because it is now a threat to the public.

    Sure, you guys hackers – you visit a hacking website for goodness sake. But lets face it: with technology becoming commonly used by everyone, everyone uses it more and things blow up. Things that blow up, people notice. Nobody gives a rats behind about you hacking a door knob, even if you give out the plans; because most people lack the motivation and intelligence to make it. But pretend you sold it: tons of people would just buy it, because it is so much easier then making it.

    Comparing Cars Moddin to Xbox Moddin is not comparable. At least in the sense I’m talking about. You buy a car, moddin it only brings money to other companies who makes products. You buy an xbox-360, moddin it (in the case of just about everyone) hurts the game industry because people download games off the internet.

    Technically moddin cars is illegal, just like technically it is illegal to mod an xbox. But the cops don’t impound your vehicle for a having a supercharger unless you’re really stupid. Sorry, but running a illegal business selling services for Xbox 360 hacking is totally illegal. Anyone doing that as a pure business model is crazy (because you know you are hurting the bottom line of gaming). The sick part is you aren’t really hurting Microsoft, you’re hurting the game manufactures, which in some cases are small little companies.

    Show me one time anyone here has been arrested for hacking something. You don’t get arrested for hacking hardware, you get arrested for making a business model for selling your hacking services for a completely immoral purpose. Just like that one hacker isn’t releasing some hack that could undermind hotel security keycodes. Why? Because he isn’t some jerk trying to make living of screwing hotel security. Sure he could release the product, allow criminals to hack into anyones hotel room, causing every hotel to change locks, but he isn’t a jerk.

    But these hackers who hack for $$$ aren’t hackers, they aren’t crackers either, they are criminals. But guess what, smooth criminals never get caught – but the ones that don’t realize what they are doing is illegal and just think it is normal, maybe they are just as stupid as the idiot who can’t hack his own xbox (one has common sense the other has brains, but I suppose one person can’t have BOTH).

  22. nathan belomy, blow me.

    i know of a guy who was busted in this sting who has _never_ done an illegal mod. all legal cromwell bios’s that only boot linux. what the end user does after it leaves his soldering shop is their problem, not his

    should the guy who pumps your gas be held liable if you get in an accident on the highway because he gave you what you needed to get there?

  23. how long untill we wont even be able to buy mod chips anymore this sucks i havent even got a chance to mod my xbox yet. does anybody no if they have taken othe large retail mod chip stores??

  24. Victum less crimes are pointless, modes dont hurt no one, the gov does. I say let it rain anarchy opon there stupid heads!!! thay can only push a hacker/modder so far. Geez. By the way my senitor hates me for protesting anti-smoking laws. He he

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