back to article Court convicts 'million pound' modchip man

A Bristol man has vowed to fight on after being found guilty by a UK court of more than two dozen counts of possessing and selling modchips for games consoles. Neil Stanley Higgs, 39, of Speedwell Road, Speedwell, Bristol, who called himself Mr Modchips, was found guilty of 26 offences under a 2003 amendment to the 1988 …

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Look at the Xbox

I have my Xbox chipped, and I dont play games on it at all (I have a top of the range PC for that), however I do run Xbox media center which is possibly one of the best media center applications ever. Infact every single person that I know and work with that has an xbox has it chipped for the seam reaons.

There currently is no XBMC for the 360 but when one comes out I will get a 360 and get it chiped for this reason (and yes I want XBMC for the 360 because the 360 media center is rubbish). I buy any games I play Im not ripping anyone off but I will damned well use the hardware any way I want to, even if that mean's letting it gather dust, throwing it out a window, or opening it up and soldering stuff to it.

Sure the chip's allow the ability to play copied games, but they also allow the ability to run homebrew software that is very much in demand yet microsoft refuse to allow to be offically liscened.

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Outrageous

So I go out and buy an Alpha Romeo. I decide it's engine management isn't as I'd like it, and I'd rather use LPG. A quick conversion later and I've got a better, cheaper running Alpha. What's the difference??

Surely everyone has the right to do with their property as they see fit??? If they want to come down on you and prove that you've copied games, that they haven't bought, to keep in order to not pay for them, fair enough, that's fine (I see no issues with bona fide back up copies - why should you have to pay for something twice if you damage it when it is data based?!??).

Even then, the best thing about mod chips is Media Centre - so you can use your X-Box how it should have been from the start.

But the guy selling the mod-chips - hello!?! He's doing NOTHING wrong, it's people further down the chain who are potentially doing something criminal.

Go arrest car dealers because a car they sold was caught speeding... there's one near me who sells Porsches, Lambourghinis, Lotus', etc - should be worth a good 30 years in the slammer whilst Dave-the-granny-beater goes home with a warning and a fine...

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Are computer shops breaking the law?

Surely, PC world and their like, who offer to fit CD and DVD writer drives to PCs are breaking the law too? After all, they do this for commercial gain, and the consumer can use the hardware to "steal" copyright material.

Similarly, is it now illegal to tune a car for fuel economy -- as the fuel company will be loosing out?

Seems our legal system really is for sale to allow companies to screw money out of consumers.

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Understandable, but wrong.

Besides the fact that he probably didn't pay tax on this income, I am not seeing the problem with mod-chipping. Yes he is enabling the hardware to do something that it normally would not, however that hardware is owned by the consumer at this point (no contract with the supplier / limited license to use not own). As such how can it be illegal to chip the consoles, illegal to purchase pirated software, perhaps illegal to use pirated software, however enabling the console to do it should not be illegal. The UK lacks many of the fair use clauses that American legal system provides, but backing up and using your backups should be legal irrespective of the encryption applied to the device (ie: enabling playback on non-standard playback devices).

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Anonymous Coward

I don't get this...

Why are modchips illegal? I have witnessed their usage for all kinds of things, specifically allowing for the playing of music in a sitting room from a PC in a bedroom. As far as I can see, the only incursion into the law would be if the user was playing illegally downloaded games on the chipped console? In which case its a simple case of software piarcy?

Have i simplified this too much or have the powers that be overcomplicated it??

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Once I buy it, it's mine

M$ et al can take the lobbied-for laws and shove them. Once I buy an item, that item is mine to do with as I see fit. Be that play games, watch DVDs or start to tinker with.

The real reason for the anti-modding lobby is to keep the cartel on software.

Free trade? There's none in IT!

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Anonymous Coward

Back when I was a wee lad

Back when I was a wee lad the best thing about playing games on a computer with a 40mb hard disk was that you didn't have to keep swapping bits of plastic all the time (Well that and Doom of course). Now you have to keep a big ugly pile of plastic even with a PC...

Mod chips are a really good idea, they can use an old Xbox into a media player, reuse repaire recycle wheres the harm in that?

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Pirate

Difficult one

Modchips I believe can help determine a consoles success.

A few years ago I bought a XBOX, not for the games, I bought it modded so I could run XBOX Media Centre. It was cheaper than building a HTPC, about the same price if not cheaper (at the time) as a network capable divx player.

I could watch downloaded TV episodes off my PC over the network.

It was a fantastic setup.

I already had a Gamecube - my first games console since the grandstand kevin keegan thing. I had been a Spectrum - AtariST - PC gamer for years.

I then tried some of the games on the XBOX, they were good. So I bought many games. Yes bought.. granted I did download some games. In many cases I am glad I did because there are some poor games that get published.

Over the years I have friends who have had SNES, Playstations, Gameboys etc.

I believe the consoles would not have been as successful if they were not able to play 'backups'.

Think about it. Even though you have a modded console, what presents do you get for your birthday or christmas? It's an obvious choice... a game.

The bottom line is I believe the ability for a console to be modded determines it's success or failure. An alternative is to price games at a realistic price of £10 to £20.

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Noooooooooooo!!!!

Mr Modchip, you served the console communities well for the last few years! All the best with the appeal!

I don't see why selling a modchip / possessing a modchip should be illegal at all. If you own something, then you should be able to modify it in anyway you want to.

They should be going after people that are selling pirate games, they are commiting a real crime, unlike someone who sells modchips which have LOADS of legitimate uses

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Couldn't happen to a more deserving guy

This guy is pretty deserving of the fines and legal problems that he's suffering. I bought an item from him and when it didn't work I complained. His response was to block my email address and tell me to complain in writing to his Thailand address. I just told trading standards and got my money back through the credit card company.

Google for his name and you'll see all sorts of complaints against him. I'd prefer if he was getting in trouble as a result of the customer service issues but this is a good second as far as I'm concerned.

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By All Accounts.....

.. he doesn't sound like a very nice man....

http://www.resellerratings.com/store/MrModchips

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Executer

Just to point out that the Executer chip is itself the Modchip, the component to allow urning on and off of this chip from the outside of the console case is a seperate switch panel.

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Coat

Woah!

"Mod chips allow consoles to play copies of games."

Why didn't they convict this man earlier?!

Surely that is unacceptable!

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Travesty

I honestly beleive that modchipping being illegal is a travesty.

I personaly own a modded XBox. I do not use it to play coppied games. In fact I don't use it to play games full stop. The reason I bought, modded and use it it that, with the addition of XBoxMediaCentre, it is a cheap, versatile media player. It is also able to run linux, for those times when I want to check my email etc. when I am in the living room, or when I notice my server is doing something odd.

If MS et al want to cut down modchipping, they should allow the use of homebrew software on their consoles. My PSP is the same, I had to modify it to run the damn good homebrew software on it. Make it a more open developement platform, and you will have a much larger target audience.

And for the courts to say modding (even if only commercialy) is illegal, it just proves they know nothing about the technology. We need some techies in the government. I think a campaign is in order...

BOFH FOR PRIME MINISTER!!!!

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Duh

>> .. he doesn't sound like a very nice man....

Possibly, but that doesn't help with the fact that the law's an ass.

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Regardless...

...of weather the bloke is a decent sort, or weather the majority of mod chipping probably is for the stated purpose (comments here to the contrary obviously, and there are certainly many legit uses, but these are from techies and the XB is a mass market consumer product), or weather he was paying tax on his income (if so, prosecute him for that)

Regardless of weather the economics of piracy suggest that lowering unit costs would increase sales to make up the shortfall, and all that jazz.

Regardless of any factor that you care to mention, this law still sucks a fat one.

There is absolutely no frickin way on earth that it's legitimate to LEGISLATE against people modifiying things that they own. Similarly, if they are not technically competent to do it themselves, and wish to pay for a commercial third party after sales service that's legitimate for almost any other product I can think of, how the blue bloody hell is this a legitimate target for restrictive legislation ?

What is it exactly that makes game consoles so freakin' special that they special laws to protect them from harm ?

There are existing remedies in law for all the potential 'bad' uses of such a modification, so what gives ?

The people that drafted this law, and those that voted for it, should be taken to one side and beaten roundly with a clue stick until they understand the implications of what they have done and whose tune they are dancing to.

Yet again, we see a that a rich western economic system that spends a whole lot of time whining about "Free Trade" wouldn't know what free trade was if it stood up and bit them in their fat round asses.

Fucking politicians, conniving shitweasels, so they are. My piss boils.

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Read..

Did anyone actually read the article. it is NOT illegal to mod your console. It is illegal to make money by selling modchips and modding consoles for a profit.

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Anonymous Coward

softmod?

mod chips are all well and good, but why risk soldering sumut to your Xbox when it can quite easily be done with software?

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Profit

Does it mean that if a firm sold modded consoles for the same price as unmodded consoles they aren't making a profit on the chips, so it would be legal?

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Shockingly bad Metro coverage

Check out the Metro coverage I found about this - shockingly bad...

http://www.metro.co.uk/news/article.html?in_article_id=72887&in_page_id=34

It keeps banging on about "pirate chips" - WTF is a pirate chip? A fake pentium??

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Stop

Re: DUH

"Possibly, but that doesn't help with the fact that the law's an ass."

But not in this case! He was clearly making profit from devices that allow you to steal other people's work!

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Re: Read..

Ah, damn, sorry -- that's OK then, obviously. [/sarcasm]

Yes, I read the article, and the comments someone linked to that suggested Mr Modchip is a nasty piece of work.

Of course it's not OK that it's illegal to be paid to do work on someone else's property!

By that logic, it would be illegal to be employed to fit insulation in an attic...

This is a law that says it is illegal to make money from doing a job for someone, to their own property, because the person who sold them the property says so.

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And they never saw it coming...

This law is like so many laws that Noo-Laybur passes, slowly eating away our liberty and freedom taking the one sided view of industry lobbyists and dismissing others as criminals - or future criminals. They have done an immense amount of damage to our legal system with laws like these and it's time they payed for it.

The revolution is near.

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Ok in moderation

Mod Chips aren't the problem, they allow you to play imports which are much cheaper and offer the same experience, they allow the wii to play DVD's (some mod chips) or your Xbox to be a media centre.

HOWEVER!!!

after talking to a gent a couple of days back, it seems some people take all of this in excess. When i asked what games he had for his "modded" 360.. he replied "all of them" he had downloaded every game available for his 360... and for his wii "all of them"... i think you can see where i'm going here. I would happily download a game before i buy it to test it. kinda like windows gives a 30 day trial. but i find it rediculous that people can own every game and not pay a penny. these are the people who should be prosicuted, not the people who fit the chips.

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@Danny Traynor (Re: Read...)

<quote>

it is NOT illegal to mod your console. It is illegal to make money by selling modchips and modding consoles for a profit.

</quote>

It's the same style of law they use to "illegalise" prostitution here in the UK. It's not actually illegal to have sex for money. It is however illegal to publicly offer the service or to try to procure it. The industry is therefore kinda screwed (if you'll pardon the expression)

Yes you can legally mod your console, but without some pretty serious gear you'll struggle to do it DIY style - you need to *buy* a chip which of course involves breaking the law.

Modding is thus de facto illegal in the UK like prostitution.

If you want to buy a mod chip then order one from Italy for example. If you want to sell them then move to a country that allows it - you can still sell them to the UK, just not from it.

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Anonymous Coward

haha

this wanker deserves it. Hope they send him to JAIL! he's an arsehole as is the other guy he works with!

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Anonymous Coward

laws no one knows about

The trouble nowadays is that there are many many new laws in field of computing and internet that most people are not even aware exist. It is a nightmare to be sure and seems that even something that would once in the real world have only been considered sharp practice is now unlawful in computer/internet world.

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steal other people's work!

What, so a modchip goes round your house and nicks your homework?

Have a look at the PS2. The copy protection chip and the region locking chip, for no necessary technical reason are one and the same chip. So in order to unlock the region code (which in Australia, in the case I'm thinking of, IS ILLEGAL) you must necessarily break the copy protection. Sony won't give out information so you can re-implement the copy protection, will they.

So selling the PS2 as a region locked system is illegal. However, unlocking it is illegal.

Odd how Sony isn't in the dock for making an illegal product in Australia, though, isn't it. Mind you, that's the same Sony that STOLE the LAME code and used it on their ROOT KIT they distributed to millions worldwide. For which they said sorry, paid a couple of quid and sent out CDs without the rootkit.

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wouldn't it be funny if

a government were overturned for the sake of mod chips I am not saying it doesn't deserve to happen I am just saying all the rotten low down double dealing thieving lying corrupt little pols get away with murder literally but get downed because they fucked with peoples games.

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Jobs Halo

I'm surprised

I'm surprised at all the people saying he's not doing anything wrong. Regardless of the legitimacy of the end use, the act of "circumventing copy protection" (needed to run unsigned code) is currently illegal in this country.

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