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Federal agents have arrested a Californian student over allegations he specialised in modifying games consoles to allow the machines to play pirated video games.

Matthew Lloyd Crippen, 27, of Anaheim, California, was arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents on Monday, following his indictment over two alleged violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), each punishable on conviction by up to five years imprisonment. Crippen is accused of modifying Xbox, Playstation, Wii and other consoles for profit, NBC reports.

A tip-off from the Entertainment Software Association led to an investigation by ICE. This investigation resulted in a search of Crippen's home last May during which agents seized dozens of allegedly modified video games consoles.

The DMCA makes it a criminal offence to either develop or distribute technology designed to circumvent copyright controls. The Act has frequently been applied to commercial disputes, often controversially, but the Crippen case is a rare example of the application of the law in a criminal prosecution. ®

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