Microsoft is acquiring Skype for a reported $8.5 Billion in cash. There has been a lot of speculation about what this might mean for Skype, the leading Internet telephone and chat service with around 663 million registered users. For consumers, there are two key aspects to this deal which will potentially take Skype to the next level: Microsoft’s mobile expertise (in collaboration with its mobile partner Nokia) and its enormously popular gestural interface system Kinect.
Microsoft has a competitive mobile offering now in Windows Phone 7. In addition, as Todd Bishop from GeekWire noted, there are over 10 million “Microsoft cameras connected to television screens in homes around the world” – thanks to Xbox 360 Kinect sensors. This is the future of Skype, now that it’s been acquired by Microsoft: Skype will be much more widely used on your mobile and in your home.
I’m surprised Skype hasn’t made its own roads into mobile yet. Does a smart young startup really need a goliath like Microsoft?
Accused Xbox 360 modder finds case pleasantly dismissed
The case of 28-year old CSU student Matthew Crippen has come and gone. Arrested last year on Digital Millennium Copyright Act violations — specifically, for modding Xbox 360s to enable them to play pirated games — federal prosecutor Allen Chiu announced on the third day of trial that the government was dropping its case against him “based on fairness and justice.”
Unfortunately it’s not really a positive ruling in favor of user rights; but at least it’s not a ruling in favor of stepping on them in favor of corporations!
A California man charged with violating the DMCA by installing mod chips in Xbox 360 consoles won’t be allowed to claim “fair use” at his scheduled jury trial next week, a federal judge ruled Tuesday — a decision potentially devastating to the defense, and not particularly favorable to anyone who thinks they have the right to tinker with hardware that they’ve bought and paid for.
Crippen’s lawyer hoped to convince that jury that Crippen’s alleged modifications weren’t intended to enable piracy, but to allow Xbox owners to make lawful “fair use” of copyrighted material, or for other non-infringing purposes. The lawyer compared installing a mod chip to jail breaking an iPhone, an activity explicitly permitted under a recent DMCA exception approved by the U.S. Copyright Office.
But U.S. District Judge Philip shot down that argument Tuesday, noting that the DMCA makes it a crime to “circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access” to copyrighted material, even if there’s no proof that the circumvention was intended to facilitate piracy. The iPhone exemption is irrelevant, he wrote, because the Copyright Office did not extend that exemption to game consoles — just phones.
Here’s my million dollar idea: some clever hacker needs to figure out a way to hijack the Xbox’s wifi signal to allow for some over-the-web VoIP calling solution, at which point the “phone vs. gaming system” becomes significantly more complicated.
Given that he’s getting around the recent DMCA ruling allowing for iPhone jailbreaking by claiming the Xbox isn’t subject to that ruling, and referring to the original 1980′s law, my (admittedly shoddy) understanding of legal precedent would force the judge to recognize the newer ruling – given that the Xbox would have become effectively a phone – and could force his hand into applying the recent ruling’s logic to the Xbox.
In either case, Xbox is making a truly bad business decision; stifling your customers’ freedom isn’t the smartest way to go these days. I loved their recent decision to embrace all the Kinect hacking; why not here?
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