Modding your Console, Software Piracy and the Law

This article is in response to a article revolving around the banning of over 1 million Xbox 360 consoles for violating the Terms of Service of Xbox Live by having a modified console. It’s not so much in response to the article itself because I wholeheartedly agree with the banning of these consoles from Xbox live, but it’s in response to some of the asinine comments that people are making on the article itself, in particular one comment. Someone recently made the comment that modding your console is 100% legal and that downloading pirated software is 100% legal, only the people that upload the content to the internet are participating in illegal acts. How stupid are these commenters?

So you’re telling me that I can go around and download all the movies, music, software and video games I want for free and it’s 100% legal? If that’s the case then how is the RIAA and the MPAA getting away with suing people for downloading a movie or a few songs? If it’s not illegal there should be no case against those people that downloaded that stuff and the RIAA should not be getting thousands of dollars from these people to settle out of court. If it was 100% legal then how come there aren’t modchips being sold at legitimate stores? How come you need to order them from shady internet sites to get them? (I know not all mod chip retailers are shady, but you get the idea). If downloading software was totally legal then how come the pirate bay’s owners are going to jail for conspiracy to commit copyright infringement? Their site didn’t even contain copyrighted files, it only contained the torrent files which hold the information on where to find the peers/seeds to obtain the actual files. The pirate bay servers do not hold any pirated software on them what so ever, yet the owners are still going to jail (the case is currently under appeal). Anyone that thinks downloading even a single song is not illegal has been seriously misinformed.

Now with the modding of consoles it’s a little different, more of a gray area of the law. While yes you own the system and can legally do whatever you want to it, it’s still against the law to play burnt games on a system. So if you modified a system like the old Xbox for the sole purpose of putting Linux or XBMC on it, then by all accounts you’re actions are not illegal. However if you modified a system for the sole purpose of playing illegal copies of games, then your actions can be called illegal. The Xbox 360 cannot run linux or XBMC as far as I’m aware and so the sole purpose of modding that system is to play burnt games, thus making it illegal. Why do you think mod chips for the original Xbox were shipped without a firmware on them, because with the firmware that allowed you to play burnt games on them, they were illegal. However to get around the legalities, the suppliers made the customer find their own firmware to flash the chips with.

So if you seriously think that what you’re doing by downloading anything from music to video games is not illegal and the only person that is participating in illegal activities is the person that uploads it to the internet, you are sorely mistaken and need to do some readin.