Man May Face 10 Years in Prison for Modding an Xbox

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A jury has been officially selected for the criminal trial of a young L.A. area man accused of violating copyright law by modding Xbox 360s.

Last year, 28-year-old Matthew Crippen ran a bustling Xbox modding business, getting paid from $60 to $80 to circumvent some Xbox hardware that prevents the running of homebrew software and pirated games. Today, he faces up to 10 years in prison for breaking the anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, should he lose this landmark case.

After modding an Xbox 360 for an undercover federal agent, Crippen was indicted, and is now facing an uphill legal battle.

Crippen’s primary defense was to claim fair use in modifying the consoles, as modifications could be used for non-infringing purposes such as running homebrew software. Judge Philip Guitierrez, however, saw things differently, and barred the fair use defense, stating, “According to Mr. Crippen, if circumvention facilitates later fair use of a copyrighted work, then there is no protected copyright interest and no violation of the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions. This argument also must fail in light of the text of the DMCA and relevant case law.”

Crippen’s lawyer then tried to compare the moddification to jailbreaking an iPhone, an action explicitly allowed by the DMCA, but the Judge again disallowed the defense, stating that the iPhone case does not pertain to game consoles.

As of today, the 12 members of the jury have been selected, and are ready to begin the week-long trial.

Source: Wired

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