Government Tries to Block Expert Testimony in Mod Chip Case

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Government Tries to Block Expert Testimony in Mod Chip Case

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Prosecutors in the case of a man charged with violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act by modding Xbox 360s are trying to block the testimony of "celebrity geek" Andrew "Bunnie" Huang, the author of the 2003 book Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering.

Matthew Crippen of Anaheim, California, is charged with violating the anti-circumvention regulations in the DMCA after installing mod chips in Xbox 360 consoles for undercover agents belonging to the Entertainment Software Association and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. It's serious business - he faces up to three years in prison if convicted on both counts - and so he's enlisted the help of Chumby designer and "hacking pioneer" Andrew Huang to testify on his behalf.

"Basically, what he did was insufficient on its own to violate anything," Huang said in a recent interview. The DMCA should allow for "fair use" exemptions, he continued, which would allow for the installation of mod chips in consoles for legitimate purposes. He also pointed out that the U.S. Copyright Office recently legalized jailbreaking cellphones and said that consoles should get the same treatment.

"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 added.

But prosecutors are doing their best to block Huang from testifying, arguing that his opinions are not legally admissible and that the "continual reliance on 'fair use' as a defense" is irrelevant because circumvention is prohibited by the DMCA regardless of the reason. The judge in the case has yet to rule on the matter.

Three years in prison for installing mod chips in game consoles is an absolute obscenity and Electronic Frontier Foundation Legal Director Cindy Cohn said the case highlights one of the many flaws in the DMCA. The Library of Congress only takes requests for exemptions to the law every three years, a glacial pace that would be laughable if it wasn't so damaging, and while it agreed to allow iPhone jailbreaking, apparently nobody thought to ask about game consoles. Now we have to wait another couple of years until the process comes around again. "This is why the DMCA process, it's a pretty inefficient way to think of how the law should be," Cohn said.

Crippen's trial is scheduled to begin on November 30.

Source: Ars Technica

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America can be quite draconian for the land of the free...

Its a conspiracy

I called it first

after installing mod chips in Xbox 360 consoles for undercover agents belonging to the Entertainment Software Association and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

So....he helped the government and then the government fucked him up? :O o.O im confused....why is everybody ignoring the fact WHO he modded for!

3 years for installing a chip in a console? What? How is that even relatable to other crimes that put you in prison?

Ridiculous. Did he sell them and make profit? Probably not, so this is simply a waste of everyone's time.

bjj hero:
land of the free...

lolwut Hardly :D

This is confusing. How can modding a bloody console land him 3 years in jail? This is just plain ridiculous. :s

The Land of the Free? Right. Kiss my ass.

Well, good luck to you, friend. I hope it goes in your favour!

Azmael Silverlance:
after installing mod chips in Xbox 360 consoles for undercover agents belonging to the Entertainment Software Association and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

So....he helped the government and then the government fucked him up? :O o.O im confused....why is everybody ignoring the fact WHO he modded for!

It was a sting...

and whats the chance of him getting the maximum sentence and unlike the iphone what other reasons could you have for "jailbreaking" a 360

I have to agree with the prosecution that Huang's testimony is irrelevant. If it's against the law, it's against the law. And "it shouldn't be against the law" isn't really a defense. It's not the job of that court to change the law anyway, it's just to hear the case based on what the law currently is and decide if the defendant did indeed break it. The sentence is ridiculous though, the defendant should try to get a reduced sentence by pleading guilty instead of trying that pointless "but it shouldn't be a crime!" defense.

I really hope Matt Crippen has more in his lineup than a "celebrity" expert. It isn't so much a case as the Prosecutors worried about what he will say as it will just be a waste of the court's time.
It would pay to keep an eye on how this case goes, as it could set a precedent on modding consoles if for some universal unknowing reason Crippen actually gets acquitted.

He already failed in the "Don't get caught" rule. Now we see whether he fails in the "Don't be a moron in court" rule.

So, the government thinks that putting a mod chip into a video game console is as offensive as rape without a deadly weapon.
What?

mjc0961:
I have to agree with the prosecution that Huang's testimony is irrelevant. If it's against the law, it's against the law. And "it shouldn't be against the law" isn't really a defense. It's not the job of that court to change the law anyway, it's just to hear the case based on what the law currently is and decide if the defendant did indeed break it. The sentence is ridiculous though, the defendant should try to get a reduced sentence by pleading guilty instead of trying that pointless "but it shouldn't be a crime!" defense.

"It shouldn't be against the law" can be a great defense. That's how a lot of things have been changed. I mean, Brown Vs. Board of Education pretty much used this defense.

I don't know too much about these specific laws, but if it outlaws Fair Use, I'm not liking the sound of it so far.
I'll hold my judgement for further investigation.

While I don't like piracy, and mod chips are a big part in console piracy and cheating, we can't go back on the foundation of our country for the sake of making things fair for a private industry.

America has become a danger to democracy and freedom, fellas. Seriously, 3 years for this shit? Enjoy your fucking 'freedom'.

I'm pretty sure no one would give a damn about people modding their consoles if playing pirated games wasn't an option...

mjc0961:
I have to agree with the prosecution that Huang's testimony is irrelevant. If it's against the law, it's against the law. And "it shouldn't be against the law" isn't really a defense. It's not the job of that court to change the law anyway, it's just to hear the case based on what the law currently is and decide if the defendant did indeed break it. The sentence is ridiculous though, the defendant should try to get a reduced sentence by pleading guilty instead of trying that pointless "but it shouldn't be a crime!" defense.

In an ideal word a court should exist to find justice. Imprisonment for a crime that hurts no-one and (possibly) takes a little money out of a corporations pocket is not just.

In this world, I guess you're right. :(

Andy Chalk:
Three years in prison for installing mod chips in game consoles is an absolute obscenity and Electronic Freedom Frontier Legal Director Cindy Cohn said the case highlights one of the many flaws in the DMCA... [emphasis mine]

Electronic Frontier Foundation. Geez. They've only been around for -- what? -- 20 years?

Brotherofwill:
3 years for installing a chip in a console? What? How is that even relatable to other crimes that put you in prison?

Ridiculous. Did he sell them and make profit? Probably not, so this is simply a waste of everyone's time.

bjj hero:
land of the free...

lolwut Hardly :D

how free is anywhere?

I wonder how this is going to go down, I mean if I was on a jury I dont think I could bring myself to find this guy guilty if it mennt him going to jail for three years, any crime this petty needs to be treated with fins and probation at maximum espically if this man has no criminal record.

This guy doesn't deserve any legal action, moding things should be legal. Let's look at it like this, I could buy a lighter to smoke cigarettes, or to smoke pot, just as I could use a moded console to run legal freeware, or to play pirated games. You shouldn't punish a guy just because one of his customers has unwholesome intent.

mjc0961:
I have to agree with the prosecution that Huang's testimony is irrelevant. If it's against the law, it's against the law. And "it shouldn't be against the law" isn't really a defense. It's not the job of that court to change the law anyway, it's just to hear the case based on what the law currently is and decide if the defendant did indeed break it. The sentence is ridiculous though, the defendant should try to get a reduced sentence by pleading guilty instead of trying that pointless "but it shouldn't be a crime!" defense.

Fair Use is also in the law books. So, which should be followed? Fair Use or DMCA? And to expand on the Brown vs. Board of Education example:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Separate_but_equal

"It's serious business"

That is srz bsnss >:-l Sucks that the government would stick their neck out for a big company like microsoft but not for a man trying to make a living (thats serious bidnsth)

I'm actually quite surprised to see an Escapist writer being sympathetic to this case. Personally, I agree it's bullshit, the act of placing a mod chip in a console should never have been made illegal; if I bought it, it's my damn property, and I get to do what I want with it. But the general trend on the Escapist seems to be "RAWR PIAWTES BAD, DIE DIE", so to see you coming down on the side of Fair Use for a change is refreshing.

Let me get this straight. The person who is being charged has brought in a man to testify who might help explain why he should not be convicted and the prosecution immediately tries (and, might I add, is allowed to try) to prevent him to testify for no better reason than because they say so?

This is why all legal systems should work exactly like an Ace Attorney game. This'd never happen if Phoenix was his attorney. Hell, the prosecution wouldn't even find the time to say this in between applying bucketloads of hair gel. Even if they did find the time, their voices would be gone from endless shoutings of "OBJECTION!"

SomeBoredGuy:
Let me get this straight. The person who is being charged has brought in a man to testify who might help explain why he should not be convicted and the prosecution immediately tries (and, might I add, is allowed to try) to prevent him to testify for no better reason than because they say so?

This is why all legal systems should work exactly like an Ace Attorney game. This'd never happen if Phoenix was his attorney. Hell, the prosecution wouldn't even find the time to say this in between applying bucketloads of hair gel. Even if they did find the time, their voices would be gone from endless shoutings of "OBJECTION!"

Crap, if they did that and put that shit on TV, nobody would need to change the channel ever again.

"I move to dismiss all testimonial evidence given by the witness on the grounds of..."
"OBJECTION!"
"OBJECTION YOUR HONOUR!!"
"I OBJECT TO HIS OBJECTION OF MY ORIGINAL OBJECTION YOUR HONOUR!!"
"I OBJECT ON THE GROUNDS OF GENERAL OBJECTION-NESS!!"

Its entirely because they want to make an "example" out of him ... it has nothing to do with law, or morals, or whats right and wrong ... They have a big stick and they are going to use it on anyone and anything they can.

He seems to have broken the law.

I hope the accused -- if guilty -- is punished as such.

Pirate Kitty:
He seems to have broken the law.

I hope the accused -- if guilty -- is punished as such.

"As such"? I believe the objection is more to the severity of his punishment with regards to the crime.

llafnwod:

Pirate Kitty:
He seems to have broken the law.

I hope the accused -- if guilty -- is punished as such.

"As such"? I believe the objection is more to the severity of his punishment with regards to the crime.

Is a simple solution: don't break the law.

Pirate Kitty:
He seems to have broken the law.

I hope the accused -- if guilty -- is punished as such.

There is just one little problem here...

I do believe there exist mod chips that are only designed to circumvent the region lockout of a console. Nothing piracy related can be done with such a mod chip, it's essentially the hardware form of a Freeloader disk (which, for some batshit reason, companies seem to be blocking). Regardless of if this man is using a mod chip that allows the use of pirated games, or one of these region free mod chips, if he's found guilty, it effectively stops a simple method of importing video games.

I believe this is wrong. Just as we are free to import films and music, we should be free to use any legal method in order to play imported games. Not all of us have the space, or the income, to buy multiple copies of the same hardware, just because there's a slight change in the region encoding that says "THOU SHALT ONLY PLAY PAL GAMES!" This is why I like the PS3, as Sony has said "Fuck that" and made the PS3 region free for all PS3 games. It's why I dislike Nintendo's decision to place region encoding on the DSi, and would rather buy a regular DS over it.

Yes, allowing the use of mod chips makes it easier for pirates. But in no way should it be outlawed just because a bunch of twats decide to take advantage of it.

Nevyrmoore:

Pirate Kitty:
He seems to have broken the law.

I hope the accused -- if guilty -- is punished as such.

There is just one little problem here...

I do believe there exist mod chips that are only designed to circumvent the region lockout of a console. Nothing piracy related can be done with such a mod chip, it's essentially the hardware form of a Freeloader disk (which, for some batshit reason, companies seem to be blocking). Regardless of if this man is using a mod chip that allows the use of pirated games, or one of these region free mod chips, if he's found guilty, it effectively stops a simple method of importing video games.

I believe this is wrong. Just as we are free to import films and music, we should be free to use any legal method in order to play imported games. Not all of us have the space, or the income, to buy multiple copies of the same hardware, just because there's a slight change in the region encoding that says "THOU SHALT ONLY PLAY PAL GAMES!" This is why I like the PS3, as Sony has said "Fuck that" and made the PS3 region free for all PS3 games. It's why I dislike Nintendo's decision to place region encoding on the DSi, and would rather buy a regular DS over it.

Yes, allowing the use of mod chips makes it easier for pirates. But in no way should it be outlawed just because a bunch of twats decide to take advantage of it.

Region code exists for a reason.

Don't like it? Tough.

It's the company's right.

Pirate Kitty:

llafnwod:

Pirate Kitty:
He seems to have broken the law.

I hope the accused -- if guilty -- is punished as such.

"As such"? I believe the objection is more to the severity of his punishment with regards to the crime.

Is a simple solution: don't break the law.

Wow. Yes, that certainly is a very simple solution. The philosophy it's based on also has some very simple corollaries, like it never being right to break any law and any punishment being acceptable for any crime.

llafnwod:

Pirate Kitty:

llafnwod:

Pirate Kitty:
He seems to have broken the law.

I hope the accused -- if guilty -- is punished as such.

"As such"? I believe the objection is more to the severity of his punishment with regards to the crime.

Is a simple solution: don't break the law.

Wow. Yes, that certainly is a very simple solution. The philosophy it's based on also has some very simple corollaries, like it never being right to break any law and any punishment being acceptable for any crime.

The man is accused of intentionally going out of his way to illegally modify a device in order to perform future illegal acts.

/shrug

Sucked in.

Pirate Kitty:

Nevyrmoore:

Pirate Kitty:
He seems to have broken the law.

I hope the accused -- if guilty -- is punished as such.

There is just one little problem here...

I do believe there exist mod chips that are only designed to circumvent the region lockout of a console. Nothing piracy related can be done with such a mod chip, it's essentially the hardware form of a Freeloader disk (which, for some batshit reason, companies seem to be blocking). Regardless of if this man is using a mod chip that allows the use of pirated games, or one of these region free mod chips, if he's found guilty, it effectively stops a simple method of importing video games.

I believe this is wrong. Just as we are free to import films and music, we should be free to use any legal method in order to play imported games. Not all of us have the space, or the income, to buy multiple copies of the same hardware, just because there's a slight change in the region encoding that says "THOU SHALT ONLY PLAY PAL GAMES!" This is why I like the PS3, as Sony has said "Fuck that" and made the PS3 region free for all PS3 games. It's why I dislike Nintendo's decision to place region encoding on the DSi, and would rather buy a regular DS over it.

Yes, allowing the use of mod chips makes it easier for pirates. But in no way should it be outlawed just because a bunch of twats decide to take advantage of it.

Region code exists for a reason.

Don't like it? Tough.

It's the companies right.

And we have the right to ignore that code. If we didn't, there wouldn't be the hundreds of thousands of region free DVD players in existence.

Nevyrmoore:

Pirate Kitty:

Nevyrmoore:

Pirate Kitty:
He seems to have broken the law.

I hope the accused -- if guilty -- is punished as such.

There is just one little problem here...

I do believe there exist mod chips that are only designed to circumvent the region lockout of a console. Nothing piracy related can be done with such a mod chip, it's essentially the hardware form of a Freeloader disk (which, for some batshit reason, companies seem to be blocking). Regardless of if this man is using a mod chip that allows the use of pirated games, or one of these region free mod chips, if he's found guilty, it effectively stops a simple method of importing video games.

I believe this is wrong. Just as we are free to import films and music, we should be free to use any legal method in order to play imported games. Not all of us have the space, or the income, to buy multiple copies of the same hardware, just because there's a slight change in the region encoding that says "THOU SHALT ONLY PLAY PAL GAMES!" This is why I like the PS3, as Sony has said "Fuck that" and made the PS3 region free for all PS3 games. It's why I dislike Nintendo's decision to place region encoding on the DSi, and would rather buy a regular DS over it.

Yes, allowing the use of mod chips makes it easier for pirates. But in no way should it be outlawed just because a bunch of twats decide to take advantage of it.

Region code exists for a reason.

Don't like it? Tough.

It's the companies right.

And we have the right to ignore that code. If we didn't, there wouldn't be the hundreds of thousands of region free DVD players in existence.

The device he modified was not region free.

It's very simple, sweetie.

Pirate Kitty:

llafnwod:

Pirate Kitty:

llafnwod:

Pirate Kitty:
He seems to have broken the law.

I hope the accused -- if guilty -- is punished as such.

"As such"? I believe the objection is more to the severity of his punishment with regards to the crime.

Is a simple solution: don't break the law.

Wow. Yes, that certainly is a very simple solution. The philosophy it's based on also has some very simple corollaries, like it never being right to break any law and any punishment being acceptable for any crime.

The man is accused of intentionally going out of his way to illegally modify a device in order to perform future illegal acts.

/shrug

Sucked in.

Eh. You mean suck it up? It's hard to tell what your argument is here. From what you've said, it seems to be that any punishment is acceptable and permissable if the receiving party has done anything wrong, but there are all sorts of ad absurdum arguments I could make against this if I weren't already pretty convinced that you don't actually care and are just making yourself out to be a jaded badass, so I guess I'll stop now.

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