Washington Journal of Law, Technology & Arts


Peter Dang


In United States v. Crippen, Matthew Crippen was charged with modifying Xbox 360 consoles for others for a fee. His modifications allowed the consoles to run unlicensed software in violation of the anti-circumvention provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). In the first criminal trial arising from these provisions, the United States District Court for the Central District of California granted a motion in limine allowing the government to exclude evidence of fair use, holding that the DMCA provisions contained no fair use exception. After the prosecution abruptly dropped the case in December 2010, several questions remain unanswered: What rights do consumers have to modify video game consoles they purchase legitimately? What role does fair use play in DMCA criminal cases? And what criminal defenses are available in the context of the DMCA? This Article will focus specifically on the DMCA in the criminal law context, while also investigating the background of the Crippen case.

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