Two store owners and a third man were charged today in a federal copyright infringement case for selling modified Xbox game consoles that allowed the machines to play pirated video games copied onto a hard drive installed in the console.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court in Los Angeles accuses the three of conspiring to traffic in a technology used to circumvent a copyright protection system and conspiring to commit criminal copyright infringement. The complaint affidavit specifically alleges that the owners of ACME Game Store on Melrose Avenue sold Xbox game systems that had been modified by a third man who installed modification chips and large hard drives into Xbox consoles. The modification chips and hard drives allow the user to copy rented or borrowed games onto the consoles for future playback.
This case began when the Entertainment Software Alliance contacted federal law enforcement and reported that undercover private investigators had purchased a modified Xbox game console, pre-loaded with several copyrighted games, from ACME Game Store in May 2005.
According to the criminal complaint, Jones and Bryant had modified Xbox game consoles running as demonstrators in ACME Game Store and would describe in detail to customers the advantages of the modifications. Customers would pay from $225 to more than $500 for the modifications, depending on the extent of the modifications requested and the number of games that were pre-loaded onto the hard drive. Cai would pick up game consoles to be modified from ACME Game Store, modify the systems at his home, and then return the game consoles to ACME Game Store to be picked up by ACME Game Store customers.
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, according to the criminal complaint.
The charge of conspiracy carries a maximum possible penalty of five years in federal prison.
A criminal complaint contains allegations that a defendant has committed a crime. Every defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is the result of an investigation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which received the assistance of the Entertainment Software Alliance.
Assistant United States Attorney Thomas E. Loeser
Release No. 05-174
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