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Xbox modchip case judge: "I really don't understand what we're doing here"

Case complicated by concerns about witnesses' integrity

Philip Gutierrez, the US District judge in the Xbox 360 modchip trial, temporarily delayed opening statements in the case following allegations of unlawful behaviour by government-appointed witnesses.

The suit concerns two possible violations of the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, with defendant Matthew Crippen accused of turning a profit from modchip installation and firmware modification to allow the running of copied games.

Lawyers for the defendant claim that an ESA investigator broke Californian state privacy laws when filming Crippen allegedly modifying an Xbox 360 at home.

In addition, a Microsoft security expert is accused of having hacked Xboxes himself. "Maybe two of the four government witnesses committed crimes," observed Gutierrez, as reported by Wired.

"I really don't understand what we're doing here," he claimed in a torrent of invective at the prosecution, before ordering a three-hour delay in proceedings to mull over the possibility of a dismissal.

The judge claimed to have "serious concerns about the government's case", including that it was attempting to sidestep prior stipulations that ignorance of the law was a permissible defence. Although prosecutors claim he had admitted to it, Crippen has not been recorded as demonstrating he was aware of piracy violations.

The judge also appeared to relent on his earlier decision that modchipping could not be deemed fair use. "How about backup games and the homebrewed?" he questioned.

The case continued following the judge-ordered recess, after which he ultimately decided to continue rather than grant a dismissal or deal.

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Alec Meer avatar
Alec Meer: A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.
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