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Sony preps PS2 mod chip legal fight

If Oz High Court hearing goes modder's way

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Sony has hinted that it is preparing a fresh legal challenge to the legality of PlayStation 2 modification chips in Australia should a High Court case brought by a PS2 mod chip seller go against it.

Speaking in Sydney last week, Sony Computer Entertainment Australia (SCEA) MD Micheal Ephraim said the company's lawyers were gearing up to bring the matter before the court once again, Australian IT reports.

The High Court is expected to rule this month on mod chip maker Eddy Stevens' appeal against a July 2003 Federal Court verdict that his products violate Australia's copyright laws. That ruling was, in turn, the result of Sony's appeal against a lower court judgement that selling mod chips was not necessarily an infringement of copyright.

Sony lost that case because it had failed to show that the PS2 security system was a "technological protection measure" as defined by the 2000 Digital Agenda Amendments to Australia's Copyright Act. It was also argued that Sony's restrictions on the use of PS2 games bought overseas amounted to an artificial trade barrier.

Stevens' High Court strategy will focus on showing that mod chips have legitimate uses as well as illegal ones and so should be allowed to be sold, just as, say, blank CDs and DVD recorders are even though they too may be used to infringe copyright.

SCEA did not say how it will tackle mod chips should the Stevens appeal go against it, but it's clear that it will not going to accept defeat. Its case is likely to centre on changes made to Australia's copyright regime enacted as a consequence of the Free Trade Agreement signed last year by Australia and the US. ®

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