Italian court rules mod chips legal

'The product's owner can use it as they see fit'

A court in Italy has dealt a major blow to the efforts of the platform holders to crack down on mod chips, ruling that PS2 mod chip devices are designed to "avoid monopolistic positions."

The case was brought over a seizure of modded PlayStation 2s by the Italian authorities some days previously, with the court deciding that this seizure was illegal and that modding consoles is a legitimate practice.

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.

The decision was focused on an interpretation of Italian law relating to a company's right to limit the use of its products once they have been sold, with the final conclusion being that "the product's owner can use it as they see fit".

That's not what the console manufacturers will have wanted to hear, given that their business model is largely based on the idea of selling console hardware at a loss (at least in the early parts of its lifespan) and restricting its use to playing licensed software only so that the money can be recouped through licensing fees.

Copyright © 2004 gamesindustry.biz "It's a little like Fiat marketing its cars while banning them from being driven by non-European citizens or outside towns," the court commented. The Italian case may well have knock-on effects on other products which are available in the country, such as region-locked DVD players - and it may even embolden mod chippers in other European countries with similar laws to press legal cases over the issue. The report into the case was published by the Association pour la Liberte dans les Communications Electroniques Interactives, a similar body to the United States' Electronic Frontier Foundation.