If you're selling pirated games over the Internet you deserve to be locked up for being a fool

Don’t mess with Canada, I suppose. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested someone last month for selling pirated games over the Internet. Of all the dumb things I’ve read, that’s right up there with the best of them. Like, selling pirated video games on the Internet should be featured in “World’s Dumbest Criminals” on some trash-television channel.

That in and of itself is worth mentioning, but perhaps more troubling is the police press release, which says that “modifying a console and computer is considered an illegal act under Section 342.1 of the Criminal Code and is punishable by imprisonment for up to ten years.” What?

That may be too broad a characterization, because the letter of the law actually says there needs to be an “intent” to commit a crime in order for modifying a console or computer to be considered illegal.

I asked an Electronic Frontier Foundation lawyer at CES last January what would be considered legal under the DMCA. (Yes, I know the DMCA has nothing to do with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.) Would painting an Xbox 360 be illegal? No. Would adding RAM be considered illegal? Maybe. The law, generally speaking, is woeful when it comes to matters of technology. That’s not breaking news, no, but it’s worth repeating.