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Unauthorised PlayStation 2 exports illegal

Console vendor highlights obscure Japanese trade law to deter overseas buyers

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The Japanese government has declared any attempt to export Sony's PlayStation 2 - due to go on sale in Japan on Saturday - illegal. Well, OK, we exaggerate a little. Japan's Department of Trade and Commerce (DTC) hasn't banned exporting the eagerly anticipated console per se, but last year the Japanese government passed the International Foreign Exchange and Trade Law. This statute, according to the Nikkei newswire, forces anyone who wants to ship strong encryption technology out of Japan must obtain permission from the DTC first. And, thanks to its support for Sony's MagicGate copyright protection technology, the PlayStation 2 ships with strong encryption. So anyone expecting to ship consoles to US and Europe ahead of the official launch dates is going to have a tough time doing so. That said, it's not clear whether the law applies solely to the commercial exportation of the consoles, or takes in attempts by individuals to buy a PlayStation 2 from a Japanese supplier. Equally, we're unsure whether each exporter requires permission from the DTC or whether all it takes is for the government to say 'yes' to PlayStation exports as a whole. If the latter, then any one exporter can make the application and once granted it and others can start shipping consoles. But don't expect Sony's blessing -- it's unlikely to want to promote the export of Japanese consoles. While dedicated console gamers across the world are always willing to pay through the nose to get kit ahead of the official launch, console vendors in the past have always frowned on such cross-territory trade. Indeed, it's notable that Sony's official PlayStation Web site contains a warning that exporters need DTC permission, so it clearly is out to hinder anyone who wants to get a console out of Japan. ®

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