Xbox modder prosecution dropped like white-hot potato
Judge does his nut in Crippen box-meddle case
Federal authorities on Thursday dropped their prosecution of a southern California man charged with two felonies for modifying Xbox 360 consoles, following a severe berating by a judge and an admission they made procedural errors, Wired.com reported.
The criminal trial against 28-year-old Matthew Crippen was the first to test how anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act applied to game consoles. The 1998 law prohibits the hacking of technology intended to prevent access to copyrighted material. Matthew Crippen of Anaheim, California, was arrested in 2009 on charges related to modifications he made to the optical disc drives of two Microsoft consoles.
According to Wired.com, which was providing gavel-to-gavel coverage of the trial, opening statements were delayed on Wednesday after US District Judge Philip Gutierrez blasted prosecutors for a series of missteps. They included alleged unlawful behavior by government witness Tony Rosario, who secretly videotaped Crippen as he accepted $60 to modify an Xbox. The judge also lashed out at prosecutors' proposed jury instructions that he said were harmful to the defense.
“I really don’t understand what we’re doing here,” Gutierrez was quoted as telling prosecutors.
The government responded by asking for a recess, but later pressed on with the case.
On Thursday, Rosario, an undercover agent for the Entertainment Software Association, testified that during his 2008 meeting with Crippen, the hacker inserted a pirated video game into the modified console, a key detail in the prosecution that had never been aired before. After defense attorneys objected, the prosecution admitted they first became aware of the new claim on Sunday but had failed to alert Crippen's defense team.
Assistant US Attorney Allen Chiu then agreed to dismiss the charges in light of the omission and “based on fairness,” Wired.com reported.
The dismissal comes a week after Gutierrez said Crippen wouldn't be allowed to use fair use grounds to defend himself. The ruling was based on his determination that the fair use exception – which takes into account whether the use is for nonprofit educational purposes or only a small portion of the overall work is used – was “irrelevant” to the DMCA's anti-circumvention provisions.
The two-year odyssey, while turning out well for Crippen, is decidedly less clear for other hardware modders. A ruling that fair use exceptions don't apply to anti-circumvention provisions, should it be widely adopted, could be disastrous to those who believe they should have the right to hack the hardware they bought and own. Crippen's case didn't necessarily fit well into that argument since he was accused of running a business that modded Xbox optical drives to make them capable of running pirated or unauthorized games.
Wired.com's article is here. ®
Better things to do...?
Given the levels of criminal activity in the US and other parts of the Western world, why is valuable court time being spent on one guy who modded 2 Xbox's?
Proportionate use of public resources people!!!
I mean he didn't rob a bank or commit mass murder. Make the Xbox flexible and the gaming & video industry should think about a revision to their respective pricing. If the genuine article is relatively affordable, more people will buy the material and will be less inclined to look for pirated alternatives. Not rocket science really.
AFAIC region locking games is an illegal distortion of the markets and if I want to play a Japanese game that I bought and imported then I should damn well be able to play it.
If such mods allow you to play "pirate" content then all the better as it means I can play Persona 4 and other J-RPGs with subs and without the horrific fucking American voice actors.
If you havn't downloaded redubs and arn't American I suggest you give it a shot as your ears will love you for it. Also often it gets rid of rubbish American music tracks too and gives you back the origonal J-track lists. Happy days. As a side note I own all the games that I have redubs for, I do try to live with yank dub but it just ruins it.
Fair use indeed
You should be able to do what the hell you like with a piece of kit YOU buy. And that includes buying an iPhone, smashing it to bits, then calling the result "art".
Should this mentality be applied to working around copy protection? Why not? Because an equal part of "fair use" is that it is your purchase you're dicking around with. To download/clone some software to work on the modded box is NOT fair use. To crack the system for your own games is. Perhaps there are even valid technical reasons for doing such a thing (faster optical reader, processor overclock etc could mess with timing code in protection, that sort of idea).
And modding the kit for third parties? Um... Probably not most people's definitions of "fair use".
This is, I believe, where the important distinction lies. Are you doing it for yourself, or for others?
I'm not generally paranoid but you are bringing into your house an internet connected device with camera and microphone that you have no control over. If you even think of modding it a Swat team will arrive and stuff you into a sack!
Yeah right! I definitely will not be buying *any* Microsoft products. I already switched to Linux when Vista came pre-loaded with DRM spyware.
What a strange world we live in :(
You really believe it?
CD's are now cheaper both in real terms and current values (hint I used to pay £15 - £20 for a CD 20 years ago).
Radiohead GAVE AWAY, GRATIS, FREE, NO COST, an album and people STILL copied it and stuck it on bit torrents.
Yes maybe if they lowered the costs more people would buy it, but the freeloaders will still not buy it.