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Prominent Xbox Piracy Case Shows First Conviction

The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland has now sentenced the first of the four “Pandora’s Cube” defendants,
July 27, 2005
The U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland has now sentenced the first of the four “Pandora’s Cube” defendants, recently prosecuted by the Department of Justice in relation to Xbox modding and game piracy charges. Hitesh Patel, a 31-year-old employee of game retailer Pandora’s Cube, was sentenced to four months in jail and four months of home detention in addition to two years of supervised release for his involvement in computer piracy. Patel pled guilty on May 18 to charges of conspiracy to commit felony copyright infringement in addition to violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Douglas Lowenstein, president of the Entertainment Software Association, said that the ESA is “grateful for the work of U.S. law enforcement and prosecutors for bringing this defendant to justice. Sentences of this magnitude send a strong message to the pirate community that intellectual property theft is a serious crime with serious consequences.” While the punishment may seem steep, Patel avoided a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, plus possible damages paid to Microsoft as a first-time violator of the DMCA. Managing one of the Pandora’s Cube retail locations and working as a technician for all three of the stores, Patel assembled and modified Microsoft Xbox game consoles into what the retailer called “Super Xboxes” which defeated the Xbox copyright protection system, allowing the console to play foreign-region and pirated games. The 'modding' of the console alone is technically a felony under current U.S. DMCA law - however, in addition, the “Super Xboxes” sold often had enlarged hard drives swapped in, with Pandora’s Cube stores offering discounted (and pirated) games downloaded directly to the drive, an obvious additional act of piracy. Three other Pandora’s Cube employees, including store owner Biren Amin, are expected to be sentenced next month. Their prosecution comes as the result of a joint effort of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, and the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

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