Chastened Prosecutors Dismiss Xbox 360 Modding Case

Illustration for article titled Chastened Prosecutors Dismiss Xbox 360 Modding Case

A day after a judge chewed them out in open court, federal prosecutors in Los Angeles dropped their case against a man accused of running a modding business that allowed Xbox 360s to run pirated or unauthorized games.


Wired reports that Matthew Crippen, 28, is a free man, after prosecutor Allen Chiu told Judge Philip Gutierrez the indictment against him had been dismissed. The dismissal stems from the newly given testimony of an Entertainment Software Association investigator, which conflicted with his earlier reports and which the defense had not been privy to before today. That followed yesterday's angry lecturing from Gutierrez concerned that the ESA investigator's secret taping of Crippen might be a violation of California privacy law.

Crippen faced a potential 10 years in prison if he had been convicted of installing mod chips on the consoles, violations under the anti-circumvention provisions of the United States' Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. Crippen's case was to have been the first ever to reach a jury; one was seated on Tuesday.

"It still has not hit me yet," Crippen told Wired outside court.

The investigator's testimony concerned Crippen himself placing a pirated video game inside the modded 360 to confirm it worked, which would have satisfied a legal test that Crippen knew he was breaking the law. Nowhere in earlier reports had the investigator said Crippen did such a thing; the prosecution said his newfound recollection came on Sunday.

Wired has much more on the details of the case and its dismissal.

Prosecutors Dismiss Xbox Modding Case Mid-Trial [Wired, thanks capeo; image via Wired]



This whole thing is nauseating. You people are cheering for barbaric theft. Microsoft makes the console and has all the right in the world to place whatever restrictions it wants on it, including banning modding "solely for personal, non-pirate use," but especially banning modding for pirated games and even more so for selling them as a business. The DMCA might need some tweaking, but the principle is just and correct. The obvious intention of Microsoft when it sells its products is to prevent modding, so the law fills in the legal gap by saying that the obvious implicit understanding between buyer and seller, that modding or jail-breaking the device is disallowed, is now legally enforceable. So no, just because you bought it does not mean you should be able to do what you want with it, not when Microsoft or Apple clearly placed restrictions on it beforehand. You cannot buy it with that understanding and then just disregard it. That is immoral and rightly illegal, though this idiotic judge is apparently not concerned with property rights, considering his ridiculous imposition of the requirement of proving willful intent to break the law, because, of course, Microsoft should have not be protected unless someone knew he was wronging the company, just like when you steal from a store they have to prove you knew that stealing was against the law. Right?

This is sheer lunacy, and the fact that Owen sneers this sleazy line shows Kotaku's sympathy, as if it were not clear from past coverage, for blatant criminals: "the prosecution said his newfound recollection came on Sunday." Yes, nice jerk-off sarcastic tone there. Oh, but of course you left out the sentence from the equally corrupt Wired, saying "that was a new detail that helped the government meet an obligation imposed by the judge that very morning." Not that it should matter, as Microsoft has the right to a redress of its being wronged whether the thief knew he was stealing or not.

This is just naked nihilism you people are displaying. You are like a bunch of jackals salivating for a successful company to be taken down a notch because it does not want you to plunder what it worked to create. Well too bad. One day once you barbarians have bled Microsoft dry, there will be no more games to steal. Of course, this has already happened in the realm of PC games and Latin American and Asian countries, where piracy is most prevalent. Eventually it will become even more widespread, and the gradual fizzling of games' quality and quantity will leave you with no one from which to steal, at which point hopefully the disgusting specimens jeering Microsoft and the protection of property rights will turn on each other.