US raids target mod-chips

America cracks down on game pirates

News in from the United States today informs us of an apparent resurgence in the government's crackdown of copyright infringing software piracy, word reaching us that US Federal Agents have this week raided in excess of 30 homes and businesses, in a move to confiscate and prosecute individuals and businesses involved in mod-chipping.

Mod-chipping is a technical solution (usually involving modifying or adding hardware to a games console) via which a console can be made to play copied games. Those defending mod-chips argue that they enable players to create legitimate back-up copies of their games, which can then still be played as original discs wear-out (un-chipped consoles only run original discs). Mod-chips also enable the playing of original discs made in other regions.

The recent raids were carried out in the name of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998, and we're left wondering where the 'back-up copies' arguments stands in relation to this legislation,. The raids targeted the firms making the chips, and we're told hardware related to the PS2, Xbox, Xbox 360 and Wii was seized.

"Illicit devices like the ones targeted today are created with one purpose in mind, subverting copyright protections," Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Homeland Security assistant secretary Julie Myers explained. "These crimes cost legitimate businesses billions of dollars annually and facilitate multiple other layers of criminality, such as smuggling, software piracy and money laundering."

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