Attack of the Mod Squads

Tuesday, 29 October 2002, 12:28 PM EST

On September 16, 2002, Microsoft, Sony and Nintendo filed a lawsuit against Hong Kong distributor Lik Sang International Ltd, in the High Court of Hong Kong, alleging that the company had infringed copyrights associated with their various gaming systems.

In response, the company shut down, and when it came back up three weeks later, it was no longer selling mod chips. The affair is the strongest demonstration yet of how gaming manufacturers -- with the cooperation of various government agencies -- are cracking down not just on copyright infringement, but also on basic technology itself.

Teams of Microsoft and Sony engineers, investigators, and of course lawyers are descending on chip manufacturers and distributors armed with seizure orders, restraining orders, and in many cases, police armed with arrest warrants. Not only are "pirates" who are violating software license agreements in legal jeopardy, but manufacturers and distributors of certain hardware and software risk injunction, damage awards, and jail as a result of the actions of these "mod squads."

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