Game store owners charged with Xbox modifications

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act has affected three California men who have been charged with modifying Xbox consoles to bypass copy protection.

If convicted, the men — two of them owners of a Los Angeles game store — could be sentenced to up to five years in prison.

The three men, according to Designtechnica News, are being accused of conspiring to traffic in a technology used to circumvent a copyright protection system and conspiring to commit criminal copyright infringement.

The charges claim that the two owners of the Acme Game store in Los Angeles sold original Xbox consoles that had been modified by a third man.

The modified Xbox consoles contained special chips and large-capacity hard drives to enable users to copy rented or borrowed games onto the console for future play.

Law enforcement was apparently tipped off by the Entertainment Software Alliance (ESA), which characterizes Acme Games as a “major pirate game retailer.” Private investigators sent to the store in May 2005 were able to purchase a modified Xbox console pre-loaded with pirated games, the ESA said.

During the investigation, undercover agents with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement paid $265 to have a modification chip, a hard drive and 77 pirated games installed on an Xbox, the criminal complaint said.

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