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Australian High Court rules PS2 mod chips are OK

If you've got a mod-chipped PlayStation 2, then there's no reason to hide it away anymore. In a decision that could have far reaching consequences for Sony, the High Court of Australia has found it is legal to mod chip a PS2.

If you've got a mod-chipped PlayStation 2, then there's no reason to hide it away anymore. In a decision that could have far reaching consequences for Sony, the High Court of Australia has found it is legal to mod chip a PS2.

PlayStation game CDs come with a special access code that can only be read by the unit's boot ROM. This meant games bought from overseas or copied games couldn't be played on normal PS2s. But installing a modification chip circumvented the security measure, allowing gamers to be able to play games from overseas or copied titles.

The High Court today upheld an appeal by Sydney retailer Eddy Stevens, who has been involved in a four-year legal battle against Sony Computer Entertainment. Stevens was found in 2001 to have sold unauthorised copies of the games Croc 2, MediEvil, Motor Races World Tour and Porsche 2002, as well as having sold and installed mod chips to PS2 owners.

Sony argued that the mod chips were a breach of copyright under Australian law. But the Federal Court found in favour of Stevens in a 2002 decision which found that mod chips were not in breach of copyright because they did not circumvent measures Sony had put in place to prevent copying of their games. Simply put, while mod chips could allow you to play copied games or overseas titles, they did not actually make the copying of PS2 games possible.

Sony appealed to the full bench of the Federal Court, which found in its favour. Stevens then appealed to the High Court of Australia, which handed its decision firmly on the side of Stevens today.

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