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California Student Arrested For Console Hacking 1016

Posted by Soulskill
from the enjoy-your-stay-at-pelican-bay dept.
jhoger writes "Matthew Crippen was arrested yesterday for hacking game consoles (for profit) in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. He was released on a $5,000 bond, but faces up to 10 years in prison. This is terribly disturbing to me; a man could lose 10 years of his freedom for providing the service of altering hardware. He could well lose much of his freedom for providing a modicum of it to others. There is no piracy going on, necessarily — the games a modified console could run may simply not be signed by the vendor. It's much like jailbreaking an iPhone. But it seems because he is disabling a 'circumvention device' it is a criminal issue. Guess it's time to kick a few dollars over to the EFF."
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California Student Arrested For Console Hacking

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  • Misread (Score:5, Funny)

    by dontPanik (1296779) <ndeselms&gmail,com> on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:46AM (#28941015)
    I misread this as "California Student Arrested for Console Hating."

    I imagined a college student having an impassioned argument with a police officer on whether the ps3 or the xbox 360 is better. The student goes too far and insults Halo and he's lead away in handcuffs.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      They see me pwnin'. They hatin'.

  • Apphrended by ICE (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:47AM (#28941031)

    The DHS wants you to think of them like this: http://www.dhs.gov/index.shtm [dhs.gov]

    But this is what they really are: http://www.ice.gov/ [ice.gov]

    No quarter to tired, poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free.

  • Justice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kamokazi (1080091) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:48AM (#28941033)
    And hundreds, if not thousands, of violent crime offenders go without jail time every week. I love a functining legal system.
    • Re:Justice (Score:5, Funny)

      by Rob the Bold (788862) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:06AM (#28941359)

      And hundreds, if not thousands, of violent crime offenders go without jail time every week. I love a functining legal system.

      But isn't violating a "business model" a seriouser threat to our homeland security?

    • Re:Justice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by eln (21727) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:07AM (#28941409) Homepage
      This is how law enforcement works: Go after the low hanging fruit, generate press about it, and people think you're doing a great job. Solving major crimes is HARD. Much easier to just round up some petty criminals like pot smokers and "console hackers". That way, you can say you put away so many thousands of criminals this year, and everyone will want to give you a big fat raise and a pat on the back for being "tough on crime". Meanwhile, the really dangerous criminals get to go about their business, and you don't have to worry about doing any actual police work.
      • Re:Justice (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Lumpy (12016) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:29AM (#28941767) Homepage

        You actually hit it on the head.

        If you go after big gangs and organized crime you end up with dead cops because those guys will defend themselves.

        Cops choose to grab the helpless citizen that is beaking an obscure law that in reality is not harming others or society. It's easier to rough up a unarmed college student, less chance of having a 10gauge with a slug unloaded at your chest.

        Note: if you wear kevlar, a 10gauge to your chest will put you on the ground for at least 30 minutes, thugs with shotguns scare the shit out of cops because their armor does nothing to stop kenetic energy from knocking them over and making it hard to breathe.

        Honestly, cops need to be going after the hard crap that actually harms others and society, and not the harmless crap.

    • Re:Justice (Score:5, Interesting)

      by megamerican (1073936) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:12AM (#28941485)

      If you haven't realized it already the Legal system is functioning the way it is intended.

      Plato states quite clearly that there is no true justice, but the appearance of it is what matters in society. The lower classes of society must believe there is justice else the upper classes may lose their power.

      Don't worry however, the DHS has plenty of training manuals stating that people who question the government are possible domestic extremists. There will be a few agents on their way to send you to a re-education camp.

    • by westlake (615356) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:32AM (#28941817)

      And hundreds, if not thousands, of violent crime offenders go without jail time every week. I love a functining legal system.

      It functions as it was built to function.

      In the American federal system, violent crimes are traditionally prosecuted at the state and local level.

      The federal government has no general criminal jurisdiction outside of Washington D.C., its island territories, military bases, Indian reservations, and similiar enclaves.

      The Secret Service was orginally organized to fight counterfeiting - a purely economic crime with an interstate dimension. ICE is the criminal enforcement division of the customs and immigration service - and these are not guys you want to fool around with.

      Violent offenders who do enter the federal system get hammered. There is little willingness to plea bargain. When the judge says twenty-five years to life, you serve twenty-five years to life.
       

  • Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kell Bengal (711123) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:49AM (#28941049)
    It's terrifying to me (and a sign of the times) that we can't do what we please with the material we've paid for. Sure, violating copyright is counter productive in the long-run, which is why we have it, but tinkering with stuff has a long proud history. Imagine if the guy who invented pneumatic tyres was taken to court because it violated the bicycle company's right to sell him replacement solid rubber rims? I doubt this guy was doing anything innovating, but he sure won't be doing so now.
    • Re:Scary (Score:5, Insightful)

      by purpledinoz (573045) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:06AM (#28941371)
      Why can't everyone see that the legal system is slowly being steered to work against the people, to benefit corporate interests? Why isn't it a crime for executives at AIG and other bailed out banks to receive huge bonuses at the expense of tax payers? Why is it a crime for some college kid to hack some game consoles? We're talking about billions vs hundreds of dollars.
      • Re:Scary (Score:4, Insightful)

        by amplt1337 (707922) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:29AM (#28941763) Journal

        Why can't everyone see that the legal system has historically, with very few exceptions, done nothing but work against the people, to benefit corporate interests? Why isn't it a crime for executives at AIG and other bailed out banks to receive huge bonuses at the expense of tax payers? Why is it a crime for some college kid to hack some game consoles? We're talking about billions vs hundreds of dollars.

        FTFY.

        It works this way because their billions buy Congressmen, while our hundreds pay them rent.

    • Re:Scary (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Omnifarious (11933) * <eric-slashNO@SPAMomnifarious.org> on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:37AM (#28941925) Homepage Journal

      It's even questionable whether or not violating copyright is always counter productive in the long run. Our current copyright laws are mainly the result of people with lots of money and influence getting laws passed that profit them at our expense.

  • US of A (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Krneki (1192201) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:49AM (#28941059)
    The land of the free. On less Trollish note, it's time you do something about this corporation laws, I can't understand how the freedom of a business comes before the freedom of the people.
    • Re:US of A (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TechForensics (944258) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:58AM (#28941235) Homepage Journal

      I can't understand how the freedom of a business comes before the freedom of the people.

      There is a quote attributed (perhaps erroneously) to Mussolini, but he is alleged to have said "Socialism should more properly be called corporatism, because it combines the power of the business sector with the power of the state".

      I do believe America is suffering now under a kind of corporatism. The term seems more accurate than capitalism. At least since we are also a democracy there may be hope.

      • by TechForensics (944258) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:05AM (#28941339) Homepage Journal

        I can't understand how the freedom of a business comes before the freedom of the people.

        There is a quote attributed (perhaps erroneously) to Mussolini, but he is alleged to have said "FASCISM should more properly be called corporatism, because it combines the power of the business sector with the power of the state".

        I do believe America is suffering now under a kind of corporatism. The term seems more accurate than capitalism. At least since we are also a democracy there may be hope.

        • by eln (21727) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:18AM (#28941569) Homepage
          Good thing you made that correction...socialism is the exact opposite of corporatism. Fascism, at least the way it was implemented by Mussolini and Hitler, was very much corporatist, though. It's really kind of funny how much people scream "socialism" these days when we're so much closer to corporatism than we are to socialism. In socialism, the government controls the industry. In corporatism, the industry (the corporations) control the government. We are much closer to the latter.
      • Re:US of A (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jpmorgan (517966) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:18AM (#28941557) Homepage
        The quote usually given is 'Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power,' not socialism. However as you point out, there is no evidence that he ever made that statement. However, is we presume he did, the important thing to remember is that Mussolini understood what corporatism meant. It does not mean rule by large corporations, in the modern western sense. The 'corporations' referenced by corporatism does include business groups, but also includes trade unions and guilds, military organizations, religious groups, farming lobbies, etc... The idea being that strong government power would be delegated to these groups within their own perspective field of interest, and government itself would be responsible for keeping them from each others' throats, like a pack of rabid dogs.
  • Organized crime (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) * on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:49AM (#28941065) Journal

    This is behavior you'd expect from the Mafia. It just underscores the fact that there's not much difference between our government and an organized crime syndicate.

  • by nizo (81281) * on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:50AM (#28941071) Homepage Journal

    Industry and trade associations estimate that counterfeiting and piracy now cost the U.S. economy as much as $250 billion a year and a total of 750,000 American jobs.

    I mean, aside from being pulled out of thin air that is?

  • by Vovk (1350125) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:50AM (#28941075)
    And Now they expect you to only lease hardware as well?

    If he owns an xbox he should be able to do whatever he damn well pleases to the xbox, it is the same as any other computer. It's fair for the company (microsoft/sony/nintendo) to make it so that their games will not work on a hacked system, they shouldn't have to guarantee the games will work unless you use their specifications, but it's not fair to take him to jail even if the modifications allow him to use unsigned software. hell, I build computers that have the capability to play pirated games all the time. How is this different?

    PS: in before RTFA, he's modifying consoles for financial gain, how is this different from building a computer for financial gain?
  • by elrous0 (869638) * on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:51AM (#28941101)
    I remember back when the WIPO copyright treaty [wikipedia.org] that would lead to the DMCA was being quietly passed by member nations. Only a few of us were even talking about it at the time. But the implications were pretty clear to me even then. Making it illegal to even CIRCUMVENT copy protection measures would inevitably lead to people being prosecuted for even the most innocuous and widely accepted activities (at that time, it was mostly stuff like bypassing Macrovision, copying videotapes, copying CD's, and taping stuff on cable). It was quietly outlawing activities most people considered sacrosanct, and we let it happen. The U.S. signed onto the treaty, the Congress passed to DMCA to implement it, and everyone just sort of ignored it--figuring that the local guy in the neighborhood who copied a CD or VHS for you would never be effected. But it was always only a matter of time before they got down to enforcing it in at the local level. It may have started with the big pirate operations, but it was bound to come down to local modders too. It was only a matter of time.
  • Parity? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Crazy Man on Fire (153457) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:52AM (#28941105) Homepage

    This is insane. This kid is looking at 10 years for modifying hardware while another story linked right at the bottom of the same article describes a cop getting a one day suspension (with pay) for running down a child with his car [nbcdfw.com]

  • by neonprimetime (528653) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:52AM (#28941115) Homepage
    on the right hand side of the article [nbcdfw.com], did anybody notice the poll that allows you to rate the story?

    your options are ... "We are ..." a.) Laughing b.) Furious c.) Bored d.) Sad e.) Thrilled f.) Intrigued

    I voted Furious ... cause the charges are kinda ridiculuous ... and I'd be pissed if it happened to me.

    But the current scores are ... Laughing 50%, Furious 33%, Bored 17%, Sad/Thrilled/Intrigued 0%
  • Devil's Advocate (Score:3, Insightful)

    by whisper_jeff (680366) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:53AM (#28941127)
    Ok, I'm going to say something that I'm certain will be enormously unpopular here - what he was doing is a crime and he almost certainly knew it was. Sorry. He got caught breaking the law.

    Now, should it be a crime? Should it be a crime with a possible 10 year penalty? Should law enforcement resources be wasted on inane garbage like this while there are real, serious criminals out there that are still walking free? I think the answers to all those questions are obvious (at least I hope they are...) but the reality is what he was doing is a crime and thus he broke the law. I would hope people will be sufficiently bothered by this situation (and the ten year sentence for something so insignificant while people who commit violent crimes get much less time...) that they will be motivated to write their government and demand a change. If enough people raise their voice, maybe, just maybe, the government will pay attention. As it is, the only voice they hear are those of lobbyist for major media companies who want laws like this on the books. They got their way and now this guy is (presumably) guilty of something that shouldn't be a crime, but currently is...
    • by Hatta (162192) * on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:08AM (#28941421) Journal

      Yes, he broke the law and got caught. What's your point? That we shouldn't be outraged? I'm not surprised this happened, but it's still outrageous. Every person involved in the investigation and prosecution of this act, and the passing of the legislation that criminalized it, is complicit in evil. They are far more dangerous than the "criminals" they claim to protect us against.

  • by cptdondo (59460) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:54AM (#28941153) Journal
    [quote]âoePiracy, counterfeiting and other intellectual property rights violations not only cost U.S. businesses jobs and billions of dollars a year in lost revenue, they can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers,â[/quote] Right. A kid in his basement modifies a Wii and this poses "a significant health and safety risk"??? WTF? Piracy like this is mostly a victimless crime. It's a crime created artificially by a corporate culture. Crimes are supposed to be something that hurts real people directly. Piracy doesn't do that.
  • by sqrt(2) (786011) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:55AM (#28941177) Journal

    From the article

    Counterfeiting and piracy have grown in recent years in both magnitude and complexity, according to ICE.

    That's nice. Now how is that connected to the "crime" of modding a console? How is what he did connected to piracy other than the strained connection that modding consoles inevitably leads to piracy which he should be held responsible for? Even if you buy that, how is any of it inolved with "counterfeiting"? No one is stamping out illegal copies of games to be sold as the real thing here. Wrong issue entirely.

    Some estimates indicate that 5 percent to 8 percent of all the goods and merchandise sold worldwide are counterfeit.

    Again, a completely irrelevant fact mentioned only for the purpose of trying to connect his "crime" to a larger and more obviously illegal sounding one.

    I wish mainstream news outlets would hire people to do research and write informed articles, because the alternative seems to be just parroting whatever the alphabet soup of government agencies tells them about the issue. Though, I guess now I know to watch out for those counterfeit modded game consoles.

  • by MadCow42 (243108) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:55AM (#28941189) Homepage

    >> âoePiracy, counterfeiting and other intellectual property rights violations not only cost U.S. businesses jobs and billions of dollars a year in lost revenue, they can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers,â he said.

    Health and Safety risks? Give me a f*&%ing break... at least with regards to Intellectual Property. Sure, counterfeit aircraft replacement parts pose a real safety problem (and it's a real problem... go after that one, guys!), but copying videogames?

    If the guy was overtly doing this to enable the use of pirated games, then sure, he's guilty. But if the majority of his work is to enable homebrew or emulation software, they should set him free and give him a pat on the back. I lose all sympathy for the copyright holders when they try to use FUD about "Health and Safety" to prop up their failing business model.

    MadCow.

  • Troubling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mewsenews (251487) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:57AM (#28941207) Homepage

    Joe Public will read this story and think "so what, some kid who helped destroy game company profits got his comeuppance," but the technically astute on this site will notice that this law, while currently applied to a trivial domain like game consoles, will be affecting the whole computer industry for years to come. The iPhone, like most game consoles, has a mechanism to prevent unsigned code from running. It is protected by the DMCA. The Kindle from Amazon is probably protected by the DMCA.

    Your legal ability to do what you want, with the hardware you own, is slowly being eroded by new hardware with DRM baked in, and lawsuits like the one in the article. The issue is about personal freedom as much as it's about piracy.

  • Pirate Party? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by DoofusOfDeath (636671) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:59AM (#28941245)

    I'm curious if the Pirate Party will start getting enough traction in the U.S. to matter.

    Cases like this only really piss-off young, highly technical persons. But if you factor in the RIAA's and MPAA's actions over the last 5 years, it makes me wonder.

  • by VinylRecords (1292374) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @10:59AM (#28941253)

    From the article:

    "Playing with games in this way is not a game -- it is criminal," said Robert Schoch, special agent in charge of the ICE investigations office in Los Angeles. "Piracy, counterfeiting and other intellectual property rights violations not only cost U.S. businesses jobs and billions of dollars a year in lost revenue, they can also pose significant health and safety risks to consumers," he said.

    Emphasis mine. What health risks are there? Pac Man fever?

  • Get involved (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MrKaos (858439) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:09AM (#28941429) Journal

    I've been involved in a Civil Liberties group that reviews and lobbies legislation for appropriate changes prior to them becoming law, something quite different from the EFF. From my initial conversations organisations like this are in need of people with a technological bent to advise them on the ramifications of technology legislation before it passes into law.

    It's not the first time I've done it and I've found that if you you are polite to the ministers involved they are quite responsive and will listen to what you have to say and if they see your name often enough they will ask you for advice, they asked me. It's interesting to see the changes you suggest actually either make it into law or not make it into law due to your lobbying.

    Thing is, it's not a game. If you don't act then, incrementally, freedoms will be whittled away. If it's not by the lobbying of a special interest group (for example Microsoft with the Xbox) then it will be by a knee jerk reaction to something else that has happened. Once it's passed into law it's very unlikely that it will *ever* be rolled-back.

  • by Drakkenmensch (1255800) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:29AM (#28941749)
    Ten years for hacking consoles? He should have stuck to arson and murder, he'd have gotten less than five.
  • Ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Aurisor (932566) on Tuesday August 04, 2009 @11:30AM (#28941789) Homepage

    I can't comprehend how this should be a *criminal* offense.

    Really? This person is so dangerous we need to lock him in a metal cage for ten years?

    I agree if we allowed people to completely, freely, brazenly enable piracy on a commercial scale, there might be some damage to the production of video games that might hurt us all. Confiscate the guy's hardware, take his profits, and figure out how many consoles he sold, and fine him the cost of, say, two or three video games per console.

    Honestly, it's this kind of batshit-insane loss of all perspective that makes young people hate The Establishment so much. I swear, if prison times reflected actual *physical peril* that someone represents to society and fines represented *actual damages* (plus a slight disincentive (like 10%, not 10,000%)) the relationship between authority and youth in this country would be dramatically different.

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