Feds raid DC gaming stores for modded Xbox consoles

BoingBoing reader Aaman says,

The Feds have raided three Washington DC video game stores and arrested two people for the crime of 'modding' XBox video game consoles – the details are in this Reuters story. The store/company, Pandora's Cube, sold $500 "Super Xbox" consoles.


Reader Mike Harris says,

It's not often I defend the Feds, but let's not forget this particularly relevant point from the article, eh? "The modified consoles, some holding 15 or more games already copied to the hard drive, were on open display in the stores.. 'They were burning games onto the hard drive and equipping the hard drive with copying software so that the average consumer could just go ahead and copy the software themselves.'" It doesn't sound as if it's the fact they were modded that drew the Feds' ire as much as the fact they had 15 pirated games on them.

Reader Bill Reals says,

As a Modded Xbox owner, I can say that if the allegations are true, then these employees are IDIOTS and are screwing the rest of us by doing this. I modded my Xbox to make it into a Media center, I've converted all most all of my legally purchased music collection into MP3s and need a jukebox. An Xbox with a chip and larger hard drive is the only way to go and while it does give you the abilty to back up games to the HD, it shouldn't be used for piracy. However, what this is going to do is equate modchip with piracy.

And BoingBoing reader Karl Reinsch says,

Yes, the allegations about the stores seem to be true. Actually, it's probably a little worse than that.

I stopped in one of the locations just about two weeks ago looking into PS2/XBox mod chips and was stunned to see them selling modded systems with games already copied onto the hard-drive. (They were defintely doing it with XBox systems and may have been doing it with PS2 systems as well.)

They even printed up stickers with the list of included games and attached them to the packaging for each system. You could pick your XBox based on the size of the hard-drive and the list of included games. "Oh look, this one has 'Halo 2' on it!"

They were also preloading the XBox systems with tons of emulators (arcade and console) and as many ROMs as they could find. I watched a customer walk in and ask about a specific original GameBoy game – the employee immediately fired up a GameBoy emulator with the appropriate ROM right there on the demo XBox and handed the customer the controller to play with. I was shocked.

They appeared to be to be doing pretty brisk business. I left the place seriously disturbed by what I had seen and wondering whether to report them. Guess somebody already had. They definitely crossed the line. And it is sad to see that happen with one of the few reliable local suppliers of mod chips.

I know for a fact that this store keeps computer records of their customers/purchases. I doubt that individuals will be legally pursued, but if the company records are turned over then the Feds will know exactly who purchased what system with which illegal games…

Here's a related /. thread: Link