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U.S. authorities busting video game pirates

 On Wednesday U.S. officials cracked down hard on illegal mod sellers and video game pirates.

U.S. authorities busting video game pirates After an year-long investigation by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Feds raided over 30 homes and businesses across 16 states on Wednesday. The total number of the arrested is unknown yet, but all are under investigation for importing, installing, selling and distributing foreign-made mod chips which were smuggled into the U.S.

 The ICE office in Cleveland, Ohio, led the latest crackdown. States where raids were conducted are California, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin. This is believed to be the largest U.S. domestic operation targeting modification hardware of this kind.

 The mod chips aide the illegal distribution of pirated video games made for consoles such as Playstation 2, Xbox 360 and Nintendo Wii. Once the mod chip is installed on the console, they allow gamers to play pirated copies of the video games and movies, bypassing the copyright controls. A gamer with a mod chip could simply go online and download the game from the thousands of torrent websites and burn them for use on his console.

 According to U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the country loses over $200 billion annually because of counterfeiting and piracy. Entertainment Software Association says that global piracy cost the gaming industry alone $3 billion in 2004.

 Microsoft, the maker of the popular consoles Xbox and Xbox 3600 issued the following statement today, addressing the raids: “Microsoft applauds ICE for its effort to reduce piracy and protect the intellectual property of Microsoft and its industry partners. This is an important step in the continuing fight against piracy and the threat it presents to the global economy and consumers throughout the world.”

 And as Nintendo Wii's popularity grows, so do the mod chips. According to ICE, more than 60,000 mod chips for the Wii have been seized since April 2007. Meanwhile, Nintendo America claims that the company has lost over $760 million in the past year due to piracy.

Published on 08/02/2007

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