NEWS - Tuesday, July 5, 2005

UK Convicts Xbox Chipper

First UK conviction handed down for Xbox chipping EUCD test case finds man guilty of illegally modifying console and game piracy The first ever conviction for modifying a games console has been secured in the UK, with a 22 year-old Cambridge graduate receiving 140 hours of community service and a bill for UKP 750 costs from a court in Wales. The man, who is yet to be named, was found guilty under the EU Copyright Directive which was taken up by the UK in October 2003, which makes it illegal to circumvent copy protection systems on hardware such as games consoles. The crime in question was selling modded Xboxes fitted with larger hard drives and pre-installed games. To be precise, 80 pre-installed games on a chipped Xbox with a 200Gb hard drive for UKP 380, for sale via his own website. Contrary to some speculation today, the accused was convicted not only for the 80 pirate games sold with the system, but also for the actual act of chipping the console - now illegal under the EUCD. Trade body ELSPA - whose investigator found the chap in question and brought him to justice - was obviously delighted. "This case sets a major precedent which marks a milestone in the fight against piracy," said Michael Rawlinson, ELSPAs deputy director general. "It sends a clear message to anyone tempted to become involved in chipping consoles that this is a criminal offense and will be dealt with accordingly." "The modification of consoles is an activity that ELSPA’s anti-piracy team is prioritizing. It is encouraging to see the UK courts do the same." Although the defendant in this case was clearly engaged in piracy - as the pre-installation of games on the Xbox hard drive shows - it’s worth noting that the EUCD also makes mod chipping for the purposes of playing import games or homebrew software illegal, a fact which has provoked a significant backlash from consumers. The legislation is also not restricted to those who modify consoles and sell them on, but also renders it illegal for console owners to modify their own hardware.


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