According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Microsoft is misusing copyright law in a case involving third-party Xbox 360 memory cards.
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 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's attempt to thwart a competitor offering memory card products for the Xbox 360 games console.
EFF 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.
EFF warns that if Microsoft wins in this argument, it would effectively allow Microsoft to control the Xbox 360 aftermarket.
Per the filing:
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.
EFF's amicus in brief embedded below: