Brit Modder Wiped Out, But Doesn't Get Jail

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]

Image via Evening Gazette


Comments

    Anyone within Australia know the current legal stand point with regard to modding consoles here. I don't want to get into the pro/con piracy debate, but as the last K census confirmed, piracy is real. We have seen examples of the Canadians confirming that modification of a console is illegal, we have had the Brits now doing the same thing.

    I have always been under the impression that since xbox1 days, there was a case that did NOT criminalise modding, only the bypassing of the copy protection of the actual game discs was bad. Modification of a console for your own homebrew usage was NOT illegal.

    I know there was that 'big' out of court settlement with Nintendo recently regarding games, but not sure about modding.

    As we are all under the commonwealth (Brits, Canadians and us) and I would assume under Common Law also, i am thinking that these legal precidents, while not binding here, would sway the locals to act in a similar way?

    Thoughts?

    .... I ask because a friend of mine.... well....

    If I was that guy I'd be seeking a loan for £12,840 right now to pay back the restitution before declaring bankruptcy.

      Reckon the ruling would come up on your credit history? Either way he might have trouble servicing the loan if he isn't fully employed, and hence might not be eligible for the loan.

    From Memory Sony lost a modchip case here in australia, that basically set the precedent that as long as the *primary* use of the modchip is not piracy then it wasn't illegal.
    Of course if the chip uses stolen code etc. then there are copyright issues with that.
    The ACCC was on the modchip side as it removed region protection for games and DVDs which was in the interests of competition, so as long as the chip was about removing anti-competitive region protection and just had the side-effect of allowing backup games to be played, it seemed you were in the clear.

    I haven't kept up with it though, not sure if it was overturned or not.

    Ahh.. just checked, Sony won on appeal, so it looks like they are illegal here too:

    http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/processors/2002/07/29/ps2-mod-chips-legal-in-australia-2119914/

    http://m.zdnet.com.au/sony-wins-appeal-on-au-mod-chip-decision-120276709.htm

      You are right that Sony won the appeal in their favour in the Federal Court, but that in turn was overturned by the High Court. The appeal was overturned by a unanimous decision.

      http://en.wikinews.org/wiki/Australia%27s_High_Court_rules_mod-chips_are_legal

        Missed a link and quick summary

        2001 Sony sues Eddy Stevens
        2002 Court rules mod chips are legal
        2003 Sony wins appeal in federal court and mod chips are illegal.
        2005 Stevens appealed to the High Court of Australia is successful and mod chips are legal

        Sony out of luck as the High Court is as high as you can go.

        http://www.out-law.com/page-6200

    Thanks guys... I knew the K Kommunity were good for a wide variety of things... but free legal advice.. thats Kool.

    Thanks K (And Peter/Twitch!).

    It needs to be looked at from a logical stand point.
    Companies sell dvd burners, they are used for back ups but can also be used for copying movies etc. Torrent programs are created to share files with people, but they can be used to share pirated files. Mod chips are made to remove region protection and to allow homebrew games to be played etc, but they can also be used to play pirated games. Selling and installing these devices should in no way be illegal, it's what you do with them after that that matters.

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