28-year-old Matthew Crippen will be on trial in late November for violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by allegedly running a business modding Xbox 360 consoles.
Andrew Huang, who literally wrote the book on Xbox modding, wants to testify at Crippen’s trial that mod-chipping is not a violation of the DMCA, a law which makes it illegal to circumvent technology designed to prevent copyright infringement. Huang’s strategy is to give jurors a step-by-step tutorial on console modding to show that “what [Crippen] did was insufficient on his own to violate anything.”
Unsurprisingly, federal prosecutors have asked the judge presiding over the case to deny Huang’s testimony on the grounds that it would be “legally irrelevant.” A ruling is still pending.
As we all know, mod-chipping consoles has legitimate uses and Huang says he wants the DMCA to allow for fair use exemptions.
“The U.S. Copyright Office just granted an exception to the DMCA to allow the jailbreaking of cellphones, and the iPhone in particular, allowing the iPhone to run third-party apps not approved by Apple. Modding a game console should be treated the same way.
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.”
Crippen’s trial begins Nov. 30 in Los Angeles.
-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen