The feds go after video game "mod chips"

The chips let people use their game consoles in ways manufacturers don't like -- including to play pirated games

Published August 2, 2007 3:31PM (EDT)

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency conducted a huge nationwide raid yesterday against shops and homes selling video game "mod chips" -- the chips that make consoles play games that manufacturers don't authorize (including pirated games). ICE won't say which businesses and individuals it targeted -- only that the investigation began a year ago and culminated in busts in more than a dozen states.

In the U.S., mod chips fall in no legal gray area; they are pretty clearly copyright-protection "circumvention devices" under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This is despite the fact that they allow many legitimate uses; for instance they defeat "region coding" of games, so people in some parts of the world can play games that manufacturers, in their wisdom, have ruled they can't. (It's for this reason that mod chips enjoy friendlier legal treatment in Australia.)

So if you're selling "mod chips" out of your garage, this might be a good time to stop. Why don't you switch to something less frowned-upon, like guns?

See ICE's press release here.

By Farhad Manjoo

Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer and the author of True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society.

MORE FROM Farhad Manjoo

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Copyright Intellectual Property Video Games