[LINK] Game chipping in limbo

David Boxall david.boxall@hunterlink.net.au
Wed, 26 Feb 2003 20:08:35 +1100


Game chipping in limbo
Caitlin Fitzsimmons 
February 25, 2003
THE legality of altering PlayStation consoles to play pirated games 
remains in limbo while the Federal Court considers whether to 
overturn an earlier ruling condoning the practice.

The Full Bench of the Federal Court heard final arguments in 
Kabushiki Kaisha Sony Computer Entertainment v Eddy Stevens in Sydney 
The video games giant was appealing a ruling by Justice Ronald 
Sackville last July, which found that "mod-chipping" PlayStations did 
not breach Australian copyright law. 
Mod-chips are devices - readily available on the black market for 
between $30 and $70 - that allow the PlayStation to play copied 
Sony hoped to establish that mod-chips were illegal under a 2000 
amendment to the Copyright Act, which made it illegal to override 
copy protection technology.
The move was opposed by the Australian Competition and Consumer 
Commission who stepped in as a "friend to the court". 
Justice Sackville found mod-chips were legal because they overrode a 
device that prevented copied games from being played, but did not 
prevent them being copied in the first place. 
Sony considers the case an important part of its global campaign 
against piracy and its international parent companies are heavily 
involved in the appeal. 
The company has hired law firm Blake Dawson Waldron to replace Allens 
Arthur Robinson, who represented them in the initial hearings. 
Eddy Stevens of Kensington, Sydney, was unrepresented but the court 
heard arguments from the ACCC that mod-chips should be legal because 
they allow consumers to play imported games and personal back-up 
David Catterns QC, representing Sony, told the court that the ACCC's
involvement was misconceived and was an "unnecessary skirmish in the 
ACCC's two-decade crusade against parallel imports". 
Mr Catterns said people who bought pirated copies were "free riders" 
who forced up prices for honest consumers. 
Justice Robert French, Justice Kevin Lindgren and Justice Raymond
Finkelstein have reserved their judgment, which is not expected for 
several months. 
Pirated games remain illegal and any decision banning mod-chips would 
be retrospective and apply to other console formats as well. 

Australian IT

David Boxall                     |  The more I learn
david.boxall@hunterlink.net.au   |  The more I realise
                                 |  How little I know