Xbox 360 Hacker Faces Potential Prison Time, Judge Perplexed

Paul Lilly

U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez gave out a verbal lashing to prosecutors who want to send a 28-year-old college student to jail on two counts of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). So what did defendant Matthew Crippen do, exactly? He modded Xbox 360 consoles, Wired reports .

"I really don't understand what we're doing here," Gutierrez said.

If convicted, Crippen faces five years for each count. Crippen, who is a hotel car-parking manager by day, is being accused of running a business out of his home hacking Xbox 360 optical drives so that they could play pirated games. Crippen maintains that his mods can be used for other purposes, and the judge so far seems to agree.

"The only way to be able to play copied games is to circumvent the technology," Gutierrez said. "How about backup games and the homebrewed?"

The judge also didn't take kindly to the prosecution telling the jury that it needn't prove Crippen willfully broke the law, also known as "mens rea" in legal speak.

"The first prosecution 12 years later, and you're suggesting a mens rea that is akin to exactly contrary to the IP manual: that ignorance of the law is now excuse?," the judge said. "You didn't even propose a middle ground. What's getting me more riled, it seems to me I cannot communicate the severity to you of what's going on here."

Are we the only ones that wish there were more judges like Gutierrez?

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