Microsoft misusing DMCA in Xbox 360 case: EFF

Microsoft misusing DMCA in Xbox 360 case: EFF
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) alleges misuse of copyright law in case involving third-party Xbox 360 memory cards.

The digital rights and privacy advocacy group filed an amicus brief with the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on Wednesday. In the filing, the EFF urges the federal court to block Microsoft Corporation's attempt to thwart a competitor offering memory card products for the Xbox 360 games console.

The Redmond-based software giant is in the midst of a court battle with Datel Holdings, a British company that lists memory cards products for the Xbox 360 system among its line-up. At the heart of Microsoft's challenge is an assertion that end-users (yes, the gamers) violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) if they use third-party cards with the Xbox 360.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that the DMCA was created in the late '90s to address unauthorized access to copyrighted material by non-paying customers, and not as a weapon for a company to thwart competition in the free market or as a way to police users' behavior in regards to property they have bought.

The EFF warns that if Microsoft prevails in this argument, it could have far-reaching consequences in the consumer electronics market. It would effectively allow Microsoft to control the Xbox 360 aftermarket, and would make it acceptable for consumer electronics companies to put in place technological protection measures (which you cannot break legally under the DMCA) that have the primary goal of eliminating competition (and limiting consumer choice) instead of protecting copyrighted material from unauthorized access.

The filing reads: "Microsoft's section 1201(a) claim against Datel amounts to nothing more than an attack on its own paying customers. Not only is this interpretation inequitable, it contravenes the plain meaning of section 1201(a), ignores Congress's expressed intent, and runs counter to the long-standing doctrine of intellectual property exhaustion."

"When correctly interpreted, section 1201(a) prohibits something else altogether: digital trespass upon intellectual property by outsiders who have no authority to 'unlock' a copyrighted work without 'breaking into' the work through circumvention. In other words, section 1201(a) protects copyright owners' ability to demand and receive payment before granting the authority to decrypt, descramble, or otherwise circumvent the technological protection measures preventing access to their works."

The EFF points out that what Microsoft is effectively looking for is the Court to grant it the exclusive rights to sell any and all Xbox 360-compatible memory cards, controllers and handsets.

In the filing, the EFF gives several examples of how the DMCA is misused in other areas of the consumer electronics industry. One such example is how increasingly, mobile phone manufacturers sell phones equipped with technological protection measures that lock consumers to a particular service provider, meaning they are subject to often inflated prices for service.

It also brings up a case where a Nikon photo encryption system was broken to allow owners of Nikon cameras to use competing photo editing software to manipulate their photos. In both cases, breaking the technological protection measures could be argued as being in violation of the DMCA, despite the fact that neither specifically protect against unauthorized access to copyrighted content.

You can download the EFF's Amicus brief PDF from here.

Written by: James Delahunty @ 20 Jun 2011 11:20
Xbox 360 Microsoft EFF Datel
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  • LordRuss

    Corporate misuse of their customer base. Proprietary equipment sales has NEVER worked & these guys know it. Spin it all you want it doesn't change the facts.

    Maintain a certain quality & keep the damned prices down; your customers will keep coming back, but bean counters don't/won't see human beings. They see numbers & all the other inhuman qualities you throw into the mix other than what it takes to creature comfort their protected butts.

    I don't know how monopolies are treated in other countries, but competition is how our economy is supposed to work. Corporations are at such a point now that they have become mini socialist empires unto themselves. They won't admit it, but standing outside looking in, it most certainly seems that way. Keep the plebes even and the Czars feast in accordance.

    M$ wants a monopoly on all it's products. Why not. So does Sony, Nintendo & a thousand other manufacturers of forward thinking technology. Money has bought the laws to address these situations & there doesn't seem to be a change in the system soon. One political party says less government is a solution, but another says it's the lessening of gov. that caused this very issue.

    We all want entertainment, but what is the emperor to do if the people are at a point they can no longer afford it?

    20.6.2011 14:37 #1

  • pmshah

    So what is new?

    Try using a non Olympus SD card in their camera - won't work.

    Format their SD card OUTSIDE their camera - you just lost its camera use - for ever.

    They cost twice as much! Best past - they don't make them.

    24.6.2011 02:39 #2

  • LordRuss

    My point exactly! Being a professional photographer, this is another bane to my existence. Not to mention it makes the field less attainable to other would be artists & give the medium a feel of elitisism (if I could make that such a word for the moment).

    24.6.2011 12:48 #3

  • Interestx

    Sorry but I'm just not going to worry about a producer finding that their memory card is not going to work with Xbox 360 when MS have enabled any flash drive to work with it.
    I don't care.

    24.6.2011 13:44 #4

  • LordRuss

    Originally posted by Interestx: Sorry but I'm just not going to worry about a producer finding that their memory card is not going to work with Xbox 360 when MS have enabled any flash drive to work with it.
    I don't care.
    That's part of the problem. 1. M$ "isn't" going to enable all the flash cards to work in all flash drives so I'm not exactly sure where you're comment arises from. Your under a misconception if you believe that or did you miss what this article was about?

    2.the producer of another memory card doesn't care if you try to use their memory card in another product. They're hoping you do. That way, when the device trashes it, they can either sue you for DRM violations or you pay for 2 more bloatedly priced cards. One for their card to go in their proprietary device and the other for that proprietary device.

    That's why we don't like MONOPOLIES & that's why they are illegal. But they STILL try to exist.

    That or I'm getting misdirected on forum comments again...

    24.6.2011 16:18 #5

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