On November 30th Matthew Crippin of Anaheim, CA will be heading to court to defend charges that he ran an illegal business installing mod chips in Xbox 360 consoles. On Crippin’s side and willing to testify on his behalf is Andrew Huang, the man who literally wrote the book on hacking the Xbox.
Huang plans to show up and present a step-by-step tutorial for the court about the modification process and why it shouldn’t be considered a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Federal prosecutors aren’t happy with this turn of developments.
It seems that the government doesn’t want jurors to hear Huang’s view that interpretation of the DCMA should allow exemptions for fair use.
“Basically, what [Crippin] did was insufficient on his own to violate anything,” Huang said during a recent interview. “The bottom line, I would like to see the scope of the DMCA limited to an appropriate statute that respects fair use, one that respects traditional rights.” He says that consoles should fall under the same exclusion that now allows iPhone owners to jailbreak the device and install 3rd party applications.
Earlier this month, the prosecution filed a motion to prevent Huang’s testimony on the grounds that it would be “legally irrelevant”. They have stated that fair use is not an acceptable defense for DMCA violations and that the opinions presented by Huang would be inadmissible in a court of law.
If convicted, Crippin could face up to 10 years in jail for selling his console-modding services. U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials raided his home and confiscated over a dozen game consoles after Crippin unknowingly made a transaction with an ICE agent.
The results of this case will undoubtedly be pivotal in determining citizens’ rights to use a purchased piece of hardware in any way they see fit. Let’s hope that the court at least denies the wishes of the feds to block Huang’s testimony at the trial.