"Banned" Xbox hacking book selling fast

Friday, 9 May 2003, 9:52 AM EST

Hacker-engineer Andrew "Bunnie" Huang says he's already pre-sold between 400 and 500 copies of his self-published tell-all "Hacking the Xbox: an Introduction to Reverse Engineering," weeks before its scheduled May 27th publication date, despite -- or perhaps because of -- looming suspicions by some that the book skirts the edges of legality.

"It' s about getting the book out there on principle, because I can't find a publisher willing to publish it," says Huang. "I think it's controversial, but not illegal."

With chapters on "Soldering Techniques" and "Installing a Blue LED," Huang's how-to may not seem an obvious candidate for joining Huckleberry Finn and Harry Potter on history's sad list of once-banned books. But Microsoft, the maker of the Xbox, has taken a dim view of home modifications of the game console, focusing its litigious ire in particular on "mod chips" that allow Xbox owners to run software that Microsoft hasn't approved and licensed. With a mod chip installed, users can run everything from virtual juke boxes to the Linux operating system on the game platform -- as well as pirated copies of Xbox games.

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