Feeds

Xbox modder can't claim fair use, says judge

'FU' gets new meaning

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

A California man facing criminal charges for modifying his Xbox 360 will not be allowed to use fair use grounds to defend himself at a trial scheduled for next week, the judge hearing the case said in a ruling that could have profound consequences for other hardware hackers.

Matthew Crippen of Anaheim, California, was arrested in August 2009 on charges related to modifications he made to the optical disc drives of two Xbox 360 game consoles. The related two-count indictment alleges he violated a provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that bars the circumvention of technology designed to prevent access to copyrighted material.

Crippen's attorneys have argued that his tampering is protected by fair use exceptions, which permits certain uses of otherwise protected works when, for instance, the use is for nonprofit educational purposes or only a small portion of the overall work is used.

On Tuesday, US District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez of Los Angeles, effectively pulled the rug out from underneath that planned defense, arguing that fair use is “irrelevant” to violations of section 1201(a)(1)(A) of the DMCA, under which Crippen is charged.

“The DMCA only requires a showing that the technological measure was related to a valid copyright interest, not that any infringement actually occurred,” Gutierrez wrote in a ruling granting federal prosecutors' request that Crippen be barred from presenting fair-use evidence at trial. “Moreover, although the government will have to establish that the technological measure that Mr. Crippen allegedly circumvented was used to control access to copyrighted work, the government need not show that the modified Xbox's were actually used for infringing purposes.”

The saga of 28-year-old Crippen is a familiar one to many hackers, whose modifications to hardware including game consoles, and even calculators sometimes puts them on the receiving end of legal threats. One of their strongest defenses for tinkering with gear they legally own is fair use.

Crippen, who if convicted faces a maximum three years in prison for selling modded Xboxes, isn't the first hacker under prosecution to be barred from using the defense. Wired.com has much more here. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
FYI: OS X Yosemite's Spotlight tells Apple EVERYTHING you're looking for
It's on by default – didn't you read the small print?
Russian hackers exploit 'Sandworm' bug 'to spy on NATO, EU PCs'
Fix imminent from Microsoft for Vista, Server 2008, other stuff
Edward who? GCHQ boss dodges Snowden topic during last speech
UK spies would rather 'walk' than do 'mass surveillance'
Microsoft pulls another dodgy patch
Redmond makes a hash of hashing add-on
'LulzSec leader Aush0k' found to be naughty boy not worthy of jail
15 months home detention leaves egg on feds' faces as they grab for more power
China is ALREADY spying on Apple iCloud users, claims watchdog
Attack harvests users' info at iPhone 6 launch
Carders punch holes through Staples
Investigation launched into East Coast stores
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.