Microsoft's Xbox 360 memory card lawsuit disputed by EFF

Microsoft's recent lawsuit against a third party maker of Xbox 360 memory cards is being disputed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Gamasutra reports that in a brief written last week, the EFF stated that Microsoft's legal case against gaming accessory maker Datel, which Microsoft says is about piracy, is in fact about trying to keep third party competition from moving in on Microsoft's Xbox 360 memory card sales.

Microsoft's original lawsuit was filed in May. It states that Datel's SD-card based memory cards for its Xbox 360 console violates the conditions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Microsoft claimed that the memory cards can be used to do things such as changing a players's Xbox Live achievements as well as alter an Xbox 360 player's profile. However the EFF feels differently on the matter.

In their press release explaining their point of view, the EFF states that the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is designed to prevent "access to copyrighted material by non-paying customers, not at blocking competitors or policing users' behavior in regards to their own property." According to the EFF's Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry. "Microsoft is misusing the law in order to sell more accessories and control customers' use of the Xbox. The DMCA is supposed to be a shield against piracy, not a weapon to smash competition and consumer choice." The EFF believes that if Microsoft is successful in its lawsuit against Datel, "... it could give the software giant the ability to use the DMCA to prevent competitors from selling Xbox-compatible accessories, like memory cards, controllers, and headsets."

Datel previously filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft claiming that the company updated the Xbox 360's firmware to make Datel-made memory cards incompatible. That lawsuit is still ongoing. Microsoft has also filed a separate lawsuit against Datel, claiming that an Xbox 360 controller made by Datel is too close to Microsoft's own Xbox 360 controller design.

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12 Comments

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This isn't relevent anymore. Memory cards will become obsolete this fall. The fall update will enable cloud storage of game saves, as well as the ability to log your profile in anywhere without having to do a transfer. Heck, the new 360s dont even have memory card slots anymore.

dotf said,

Thank Sony for that. Microsoft is playing catch up on that one.

Quite honestly we should - a fine example of the free market and competition ultimately benefiting the consumer.

dotf said,

Thank Sony for that. Microsoft is playing catch up on that one.

I'm not a Steam fan though I use it, but should we thank Steam/Valve for that one.

pretty sure MS was heading that way anyway, they've been adding stuff gradually to the cloud for the last few years now, but MS is also unifying 3 different online services.

Does anyone even buy these anymore? MS lets you use any USB stick as a memory card so Datel's cards, if they still even wanna sell any, are useless now.

While I disagree with this lawsuit, I want to point out that while the EFF has a point that the DMCA is not to "block competitors or police users' behavior in regards to their own property", property is a bit of a grey area when it comes to digital concerns.

You can hook the HDD up to a pc with Microsofts own device as well as third party devices, which will then allow you to mod profiles/saves, and now that you can use USB drives with the 360, Microsofts case seems totally baseless.

This is logical. SD card data could be modified to change achievements and XBOX Live profiles, but I don't see how that violates the DMCA.

Jimmy422 said,
This is logical. SD card data could be modified to change achievements and XBOX Live profiles, but I don't see how that violates the DMCA.

There are limitations in the DMCA about reverse engineering and breaking encryption

Jimmy422 said,
This is logical. SD card data could be modified to change achievements and XBOX Live profiles, but I don't see how that violates the DMCA.

You can do the same thing with an Xbox 360 formatted flash drive so I don't see a difference.