Australia's High Court ruled Thursday that modifying Sony PlayStation consoles so that they can play cheaper overseas versions of the company's games does not violate Australian copyright laws.
The decision ends a four-year legal battle between entertainment and Sony and a Sydney-based business owner, who supplied and installed "mod chips" in PlayStation devices.
Sony divides the global gaming market into regions and programs its PlayStation consoles so that games sold in the United States or Asia cannot be played on consoles sold in Australia. The so-called mod chips bypass Sony's regional coding and allow users to run cheaper games made for markets outside Australia on their PlayStation machines.
The High Court ruled that while making a pirated copy of a game is illegal, playing a game using a mod chip is not.
The ruling would allow Australian consumers to buy lower price versions of games overseas and play them on their Australian-bought PlayStation consoles, provided they have a mod chip installed.
it is not the first time a court rules against the Mod chip crackdown. Last year, an Italian court had also ruled
that PS2 mod chip devices are leaga and are designed to "avoid monopolistic positions." The chips "avoid monopolistic positions and improve the possibilities for use of the PlayStation," according to the ruling, which described Sony's attempts to limit the uses of the PS2 as "absurd," pointing out that the console cannot play titles from other geographic regions or home-made software products.
A spokesman for Sony Computer Entertainment said any statement would have to come from the UK operation.
Thursday's ruling could force Sony to rethink its regional coding system and make game prices more uniform around the world.
Full judgement at http://www.austlii.edu.au/au/cases/cth/high_ct/2005/58.html