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UK High Court Rules Modchips Illegal 987

Posted by timothy
from the perfectly-reasonable-don'tcha-think dept.
PhotoBoy writes "The Register has an article about the UK's High Court ruling PlayStation 2 modchips to be illegal. This means all homebrew and hobbyist coders in the UK can no longer modify their consoles to run games they have written. Gamers who like to mod their consoles to play games on import early are also out of luck. It's like saying you can't modify your car or your house or your clothes! Would Ford sue you for removing the rev limiter from your Focus?"
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UK High Court Rules Modchips Illegal

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  • Attention Kneejerks (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:03PM (#9762355)
    Please note that this was the UK.
    Not the US as you may have assumed.

    That is all.
  • Isn't it the case? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mikkeles (698461) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:04PM (#9762372)
    'It's like saying you can't modify your car...'

    I believe that there are jurisdictions in which car mods (or some kinds) are illegal. (California comes to mind).

  • by MooseByte (751829) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:06PM (#9762395)

    From TFA: "The UK High Court has judged that the sale, advertisement, possession for commercial purposes and use of PlayStation 2 modification chips is illegal in this country."

    An important distinction. It still sucks and I think it's a boneheaded decision, but the true hobbyist remains safe.

    For the moment....

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:06PM (#9762396)
    Having seen modchips in Asia over the past few years surrounded by thousands of illegal copies of copyighted materials makes me draw an association. Call me paranoid, but if you think people use modchips mostly for running custom games you also believe smoking doesn't cause cancer.
  • Re:Don't Forget (Score:3, Informative)

    by ViolentGreen (704134) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:06PM (#9762403)
    I don't know for certain but I would assume the Plastation's terms of use would have something about only using their official games. If that is the case, I can understand the ruling.
  • by slungsolow (722380) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:11PM (#9762457) Homepage
    They take away the licensing fees that they negotiated for that particular region, they also fuck with distribution rights for some games, and they also allow for pirated (and completely unpaid for) games to be played.

    Would ford sue you for fucking with your focus? No.. but they would sue the pants off of you if you took a truck load 20 year old Yugos and put focus badges on them just to sell them to the masses. Essentially thats what this judgement defends against. Selling a product that cheats a license holder (or in my focus example a trademark holder) out of making a buck.
  • Re:Don't Forget (Score:5, Informative)

    by ortholattice (175065) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:20PM (#9762577)
    In the entire history of game ownership, I've never managed to damage a single disc to the point where it is no longer playable.

    Then you obviously don't have kids. If I had $49.95 for each disc my kid has managed to ruin, I'd be rich. Oh wait, that's why I'm not rich.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:20PM (#9762583)
    You are reading it wrong, the court decision only applies to COMMERCIAL PURPOSES... The court simply said that you cannot install a mod chip into a PS2 then sell the modified PS2... It doesn't say anything about installing the mod into your own PS2...
  • by Martin Blank (154261) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:24PM (#9762624) Journal
    Most of the limits in California apply to things like lowering cars below a certain level, exceeding noise or pollution limits, or blatant safety violations. So far as I know, there are few, if any, that require any kind of review before they can be used on the road.

    For example, they cannot be driven on public roads unless they have a certain amount of clearance from the road, meaning that air suspension units are allowed as long as they're not lowered completely while driving. But you have to be caught by law enforcement driving a vehicle set too low to be cited for it.

    One friend has two cars that have been ongoing projects for ten and six years, respectively. Some of them are very minor -- like adding a multiple CD player to the center console -- and some of them have been more significant -- like rewiring the cruise control to control his radio (he hates cruise control, but it came with the options package). Other changes have included alterations to the exhaust system, new suspensions, new headers (I think), ceramic brakes, and additional changes to the electrical system. One day, he might even complete his projects.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:39PM (#9762816)
    Not quite, there's an important distinction to make. There are no laws whatsoever in the US keeping you from modifying your car in any way. There *are* laws against using modified cars on public roads.

    On private property you can drive anything you want to, and you don't even need a license.
  • by Spolster (654241) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:46PM (#9762888)
    There are four violations in the statement:

    1. Sale,
    2. Adverstisement,
    3. Possession for commercial purposes, AND
    4. Use.


    The whole statement is only true if each and every of the sub-statements are also true. I.e use alone is not enough, you must commercialise it for the law to be broken. On the otherhand, if it said

    1. Sale,
    2. Adverstisement,
    3. Possession for commercial purposes, OR
    4. Use.

    Then use alone would be sufficient.
  • by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:58PM (#9763058) Homepage
    Keep in mind that the codes for info going in and out of the "brain box" in your car that mechanics use to trouble-shoot problems, these are in fact proprietary, and for the most part keep independent mechanics from working on newer cars. And, probably would keep the average auto buff from doing mods as well.
  • by shades6666 (657396) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @04:22PM (#9763307)
    I believe the ruling can be found here [courtservice.gov.uk]
  • by tepples (727027) <tepples@nOSpAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @05:39PM (#9764191) Homepage Journal

    In the United States: 17 USC 1201, the DMCA that we know and hate. The United Kingdom was ahead of the curve in some ways; check out section 296 [hmso.gov.uk] of its copyright act from 1988, ten years before the United States got a DMCA.

  • Re:So what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by commodoresloat (172735) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @08:52PM (#9765789)
    WTF does how you vote have to do with the "Death of Science"?

    Everything [house.gov].

  • by Ogerman (136333) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @08:58PM (#9765811)
    We all know that these mod chips have limited legitimate uses, but it is intellectually dishonest of the Slashdot crowd to intentionally ignore the primary purpose of these chips.

    It is intellectually dishonest of you to make claims that you cannot back up -- such as that most modchips are used primarily for warez and not imports, backup copies, and 'homebrews.' Realistically it's probably about 70/30 or so. And neither is very significant in any regard.
  • by Jadrano (641713) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @11:31PM (#9766626)
    Given that the judge ruled that mod chips are illegal due to the European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD) and that other EU nations (Italy, Spain) have already ruled the chips to be legal, is there any scope for this ruling to be challenged in a higher court because of misinterpretation of the directive?

    While an appeal might be possible, the fact that mod chips are legal in other countries doesn't tell much about the chances. The EU directives aren't directly applicable, and it is common that laws in different countries of the EU that implement the same directive differ substantially. So, it may well be that mod chips are legal in Spain and Italy, but not in Britain.

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