A British programmer said to have reaped some £600,000 ($990,503) selling modchips that bypassed copy protection on four consoles avoided jail at his sentencing today, but only because the father of two was bankrupted by his conviction.
Glen Cook (pictured, left) got home detention from a judge named Les Spittle, whose measured remarks at sentencing belied the nature of his last name.
"I'm not going to lock you up in Holme House," Spittle said, referencing a 1000-cell prison in Stockton on Tees, "I'm going to lock you up in your own home."
Cook sold modchips through two websites that enabled owners of pirated games for the Wii, Xbox 360, PS2 and GameCube to bypass those systems' copy protection. The £600,000 appears to be revenue; his profit was somewhere north of £160,000 ($264,139). He was busted in 2007, when authorities found more than 1000 chips and 200 circuit boards in his home.
Cook will file for bankruptcy next week. He said he began working on the chips in 2003, before such trade was criminalised.
"Sometimes people call these offences white collar crime, perhaps in an attempt to minimise or diminish the seriousness of it. It's crime. These are serious offences. There's actual and potential loss. Others lose by it," said Judge Spittle. However, "I think I can just take the step of not sending you to prison immediately."
Cook's final rap: a year's sentence, suspended for two years with 200 hours of community service and an overnight curfew for the next three months. The last £12,840 ($21,197) he has must be paid in restitution over the next six months, or he heads to the slammer.
£600,000 Mod Chip Man Spared Jail [Spong]