The federal case against a Los Angeles parking attendant who hacked an Xbox 360 console isn’t going too well, according to a Wired report.
The judge “unleashed a 30-minute tirade” against the prosecution, criticizing potentially illegal acts by prosecution witnesses and faulty instructions proposed for the jury.
“I really don’t understand what we’re doing here,” U.S. District Judge Philip Gutierrez said, according to the report.
Dazed prosecutors asked for a recess “to determine whether they would offer the defendant a deal, dismiss or move forward with the case that was slated to become the first jury trial of its type.”
Among the rants: An Entertainment Software Association investigator secretly taped the defendant, Matthew Crippen, possibly violating California privacy law, and a Microsoft expert witness — Ken McGrail — admitted that he, too, had hacked Xbox consoles while in college.
Maybe Gutierrez is reflecting the softening stance the government and even Microsoft have taken toward copyright protections that limit what people can do with their technology products. In July the U.S. Copyright Office decided that it was legal for people to “jailbreak” their iPhones, and late last month, Microsoft backtracked on its opposition to hackers tinkering with its Kinect motion sensor.
A key issue is whether they’re hacking the devices for illegal gain, or to make backups and customize their gear for personal use.
UPDATE: The prosecutors decided to dismiss the case against Crippen.