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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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  • by stecoop (759508) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:01PM (#9762332) Journal
    Making it is illegal to bypass copy protection mechanisms

    I have a sharpie that could be used to circumvent the copyright protection. My shift key also would be a violation. The courts won't go after Office Depot or Logitech because you want to go after big fish with money but not enough money to properly defend their selves.

    Shouldn't the courts just go after the copyright violators rather than going after all mechanism that could be used to violate copyright? Of course not you know that judge doesn't want to youth playing those nasty region 3+ games; he is doing it for the good of public morals... right?
  • Don't Forget (Score:4, Insightful)

    by FractusMan (711004) * on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:03PM (#9762349)
    While yes, there are people who use modchips to play their own, homebrew games, and play imported games, let's not overlook the obvious. People put modchips in their consoles so they can play stolen (ie, burned) games. If people did NOT use modchips for that purpose, this law wouldn't be necessary. But the fact is that the UK high court is not 'ruining your rights' - it's the people who copy and sell games illegally that ruin the fun for everyone. The UK is merely taking steps to stop that. Whether the steps are too far, I don't know and won't argue. But don't think that this is a cut and dried case of trampling of rights. Go bitch at your friends who have a bunch of "Backup copies" of games.
  • by kingLatency (624983) <alex@kahn.comcast@net> on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:05PM (#9762376) Homepage
    "Would Ford sue you for removing the rev limiter from your Focus?"

    No, Ford wouldn't, but this comparison doesn't work. We all know that one of the main uses (I couldn't say the main for sure) for mod chipping is piracy. Theft of intellectual property is rarely, if ever, part of modifying one's car, clothing or house.
  • fair and balanced? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by deft (253558) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:05PM (#9762380) Homepage
    "This means all homebrew and hobbyist coders in the UK can no longer modify their consoles to run games they have written."

    I think if you'd like the slashdot community to discuss this intelligently, the article needs to have both sides. It would have been just as easy to say "while this certainly is a big blow to piracy, the rights of other citizens, while a very small population, are being infringed upon.

    All to often the submitters skewed view steers the conversation in only one way.
  • Regionalization (Score:2, Insightful)

    by scowling (215030) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:05PM (#9762386) Homepage
    Much of the rationalization (not from this case, but speakign generally) against mod-chipping game consoles and DVD players is to protect regionalization. That is, to enure that only Japanese PS2 owners can play Japanese-only games and that European DVD owners can only play European region DVDs.

    The salient argument to me appears to be: what has ethical precedence? The right of the company to sell two boxes to one person who wants to use media from different regions, or the right of the consumer to make modifications to an object that he or he owns?

    Y'know, honestly? So few people are going to mod their machines and this ruling is going to prevent so few people from modding their machines that I have no problem siding with the patentholders.
  • Re:Don't Forget (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Klar (522420) <curchin@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:06PM (#9762388) Homepage Journal
    What about backing-up your own games. As long as games are recorded on cd's or dvd's, they will be very easy to be damaged. Shouldn't people have the right to back-up the software they buy?
  • Different analogy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nulltransfer (725809) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:06PM (#9762389)
    Would Ford sue you for removing the rev limiter from your Focus?

    Not that I agree with this law, but lawmakers probably see mod chips as analogous to mounting guns on your car. There are many legitimate uses for mod chips, but since they don't want to deal with the exceptions, they probably want to completely illegalize the usage.

    Earlier this year, the Italian court ruled that mod chips are legal on the basis that it's up to the user, not Sony, how they use their PS2. It even went so far as to name mod chips as crucial tools to "avoid monopolistic positions".

    Thumbs up to the Italians, though :)

  • Bad analogy. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aardvarkjoe (156801) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:07PM (#9762410)
    "Would Ford sue you for removing the rev limiter from your Focus?"
    They might if doing so allowed you to more easily infringe on their IP.

    I'm not in agreement that modchips should be illegal, but comparing a mod chip to car parts is somewhat dishonest.

  • So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:09PM (#9762425) Homepage
    Does that mean that you outlaw knifes because they not only cut meat, but they can kill?

    Just because you use mod chips to make illegal copies do not mean that everyone does.

  • Re:Don't Forget (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Erick the Red (684990) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:10PM (#9762443)

    Cars are used in bank robberies, but they are still legal.

    Knives are used in murders, but they are still legal.

    Computers are used for vandalism and fraud, but they are still legal.

    Almost anything has an illegitimate use, but we don't outlaw the thing, we outlaw the use.

  • bah (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maxpublic (450413) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:12PM (#9762480) Homepage
    Once I buy something, it's mine. Oh wait! So not true anymore; now I don't buy, I *lease* under whatever terms my corporate and government masters deign to grant me. God forbid that I should actually *own* something to be used in whatever fashion I see fit. Oh no, I'm just a consumer peon, I can't possibly be allowed such a right!

    Max
  • by Nakito (702386) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:13PM (#9762489)
    The Slashdot blurb for this article is wrong and makes an incorrect analogy. The blurb says, "It's like saying you can't modify your car or your house or your clothes!"

    But if you read the article, the description of the decision is substantially different: "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."

    The distinction is huge. It means that you are allowed to "modify your car" (to use the proposed analogy). You just aren't allowed to commercialize your modifications. You can tinker all you want, but you can't sell the results of your tinkering.

    It's still a significant limitation, but we should at least be arguing about the actual limitation, not the incorrect one.

  • by Maul (83993) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:14PM (#9762496) Journal
    My memory may be a bit fuzzy, but I distinctly remember paying quite a bit of money for legit import games. A modchip is the only reasonably way for me to play these games that I legally purchased.

    I guess finding a way to play game software I purchased makes me a criminal! (Well, it would if I were in the UK.)
  • by eV_x (180493) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:15PM (#9762518)
    This is the same uninformed response the courts must have had. Obviously, you are not well versed in modern day game systems and mod-chips.

    I'm not sure about the PS2, as I haven't modded mine, but at least on the xbox, I rarely even run games anymore. Linux and a variety of other software are available as homebrew (some legally compiled and some not), so I fail to see your logic as valid.

    Why should I and the authors of those software packages not be able to use the xbox for that reason? This isn't stretching the truth - I do this every day as many other people do.

    I own the box - NOT Sony or Microsoft. I shoudl be able to do any damned thing I wish to it, including smashing it with a sledgehammer (hardware mod), adding another hard drive to it, replacing the DVD, or running my own software. You cannot convince me that I do not have that right since I own the box, no matter what can be done legally or illegally with it after the fact.
  • by gfxguy (98788) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:17PM (#9762538)
    There are four violations in the statement:

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

    Number 4 is what you are doing if you possess one and use it. So it looks like you are allowed to have one, you just can't legally use it. "Legally" being the operative word.
  • not surprising (Score:3, Insightful)

    by EZmagz (538905) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:17PM (#9762544) Homepage
    Granted I didn't RTFA, but just reading the headline I'm not surprised. The funny thing (to me, at least) is that YES, a mod chip will allow you to technically play copied games, who really cares? What percentage of the general population has a modded PS2 or XBox? Definitely a small, small minority. Of all people I know who have consoles (from little kids to grandparents), I can only think of one or two people who have modded thier equipment.

    If so few people do it, why does the government care? Because big companies put big pressure on the gov't to make sure nothing inteferes with their buisness model. And if that means squashing a 1% minority group who decided to make changes to their PS2 or XBox THAT THEY'RE LEGALLY ENTITLED TO DO UNDER FAIR USE, then so be it. "Fuck 'em", the company says. It's their way or the highway.

  • Re:Don't Forget (Score:3, Insightful)

    by minion (162631) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:23PM (#9762616)
    let's not overlook the obvious. People put modchips in their consoles so they can play stolen (ie, burned) games.

    People use cars to get away from cops.

    People use fertilizer to blow up buildings.

    People use gasoline for arsen.

    People use (insert item here) for (insert action here).

    By your reasoning, everything should be illegal, because you plainly state: If people did NOT use modchips for that purpose, this law wouldn't be necessary.

    So, because everything can be used illegally, everything should be illegal, right?

    I'm sick and tired of mankind's willingness to say, "This doesn't affect me, so I'm going to roll over and take it". Pretty soon, you roll over enough, there's no more room to roll over, because all of your rights are gone.
  • Legitimate uses (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Xian97 (714198) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:24PM (#9762638)
    As the father of two young children, I took what I thought was adequate precautions to protect my game collection. I placed the PS2 games up on a shelf out of their reach and changed the disk for them when they wanted to play. One day a friend was over and while I was out of the room he gets a game down off the shelf to look at the cover art or manual and places it on the coffee table. In a matter of minutes the toddler is attracted to the bright, shiny packaging and the even brighter, shinier game DVD inside. Almost instantly a $50 disk is scratched and unplayable in spite of all the precautions I had taken. I contacted the company to see if I could get a replacment disk for a discounted price and was told that I would have to buy the whole package again for full price. After that I made DVDR backups of the games I had bought and modified the PS2 to play the backups. While I am sure many use modchips to copy games they do not own, don't condemn the technology when it has legitimate uses as well.
  • Re:rev limiter (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:28PM (#9762677)
    Yes, if removing the rev limiter allowed you to distributed an unlimited number of duplicates of your Focus.

    It's more like, if removing the rev limiter allowed you to drive on any toll road without paying.

    Still, I think that since you can make your car go faster, and there are roads some places in the world without speed limits, under those circumstances it should still be legal. If you use it to avoid paying tolls, then you're breaking the law.
  • by kfg (145172) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:32PM (#9762743)
    Except your revision is incorrect. The rights of all citizens are being infringed upon.

    Rights are innate even when they are not being acted upon. A monk who has taken a vow of silence still retains whatever rights to speak any citizen has and a law forbiding speech, even though he has already chosen not to, infringes his rights.

    KFG
  • Re:Don't Forget (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:33PM (#9762745)
    Cars may still be used to drive to work.

    Knives may still be used to cut food.

    Computers may still be used for surfing.

    But it seems to me that the court outlawed any use of modchips, at least for any purpose that they were made for. Using them for doorstops might still be legal, though impractical.
  • by ChrisMaple (607946) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:34PM (#9762755)
    The sentence is ambiguous. Does it mean "commercial use" is illegal, or does it mean "use" is illegal?
  • Re:Don't Forget (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Reapy (688651) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:35PM (#9762770)
    People may not be hunting deer with ak-47's, but they might be collecting them, or firing them at the range, or both. There are legitimate uses. There are illegal uses. I don't believe it is fair to ban the product because it may be used illegally.

    It doesn't matter that the majority of people who purchase the chips are using them illegally. It is the people who make the decision to break the law, not the mod chip creators. Remember that t-shirt, "Guns don't kill people, I kill people?" Same thing, mod chips don't make me illegally copy games, I illegally copy games.

    Anyway, when I eventually have children, I fully intend to back up all of my games and only keep the backups out for use. At 50 a pop, a 60 dollar mod chip and some hard drive space is well worth the investment.
  • Re:So what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fiftyvolts (642861) <mtoia@fiftyvoltMOSCOWs.com minus city> on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:37PM (#9762787) Homepage Journal

    It was Ben Franklin and the direct quote is the following:

    They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
  • by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:37PM (#9762789) Homepage
    Emphasis mine...

    "This means all homebrew and hobbyist coders in the UK can no longer modify their consoles to run games they have written, and criminals who violate copywrite laws can no longer play the games they illegally downloaded and burned ."

    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.

  • by runderwo (609077) <runderwo&mail,win,org> on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:38PM (#9762805)
    How is this a big blow to piracy? Piracy was _already_ illegal. What does making a potential piracy tool illegal accomplish? Is piracy somehow now "more" illegal now that the digital equivalent of a lockpick has been outlawed?

  • by Kaa (21510) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:40PM (#9762830) Homepage
    The distinction is huge. It means that you are allowed to "modify your car" (to use the proposed analogy). You just aren't allowed to commercialize your modifications. You can tinker all you want, but you can't sell the results of your tinkering.

    You missed the word "use". It is now illegal to USE modchips in Great Britain.

    To continue your analogy, you can tinker with your car all you want, but once you've done it, you can't drive it any more.
  • >You have twice as many possible charged to put against them, thereby making it an even greater possibility that they'll get to the courts.

    And the court case takes twice as long to argue, and the defence has twice as many chances to find inconsistencies in the prosecution's claims.

    >We are very clearly talking about license breaking. Software companies are licensed to distribute games in a particular region. By offering a region breaking chip you are allowing somoene else to profit when they aren't supposed to. Thats how licensing works.

    That's exciting. What kind of country is it where you can enter a contract without a signature? That's awesome. Perhaps I can try one on for size:

    "By clicking 'submit' you owe me $100"

    What license are you talking about? Do you think the modchip makers used your software? Hell no. No signature = no agreement = no license.

    Don't start telling me that because the modchip works with your software that there's some form of implied license, lest I start telling you that the warranty on my motherboard also applies to my mouse.

    >My example involved replacing all badges on the Yugo with focus branding. The whole point of that is that the consumer is supposed to think he is getting a focus.

    Oh. I see. So you think they're selling a Yugo as a Ford. That's definately illegal.

    When I sell a modchipped (I didn't sign your "license", so go suck on a lemon) PS2, I don't sell it as an XBOX. I sell it like this "Brand New PS2 V9/V10 with Magic/Mars Modchip - $399.99" (CDN). If you think that's misrepresentation, well, I think you should look closer. Here's [beamon.ca] my ad, if you would like to look at it.

    >Of course I didn't license them to sell their mod chips.

    I didn't license you to reply. Does that mean you're not allowed to?

    >Their mod chips infringe on the licenses that I already sold to others.

    And when someone brings me a satellite receiver that's locked out because it was given to them (NO SIGNATURE) by a religious community to only watch their station, and I unlock it, you think I'm infringing a license?

    Get real.

    >Thats why I am sueing them!!! I can't make money if they circumnavigate my licensed sellers.

    WTF? So... wait... Right now I'm not "licensed" to sell BOSE in any way, shape, or form. BOSE won't sell me anything wholesale without me being licensed. I say, "fuck that", I walk down to the BOSE store, buy up some speaker systems, and I put them in my store for sale.

    And you're suggesting I'm breaking the law? Are you INSANE?

    I think you need to read up on contract law a bit more.
  • Re:Don't Forget (Score:5, Insightful)

    by goldspider (445116) <ardrake79NO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:50PM (#9762939) Homepage
    If cars were used 99% of the time to run over people, they probably would be illegal.

    If knives were used 99% of the time to murder people, they probably would be illegal.

    If computers were used 99% of the time for vandalism and fraud, they probably would be illegal.

    Suggesting that these mod chips are used primarily by "hobbiests" is proof that Slashdotters cannot honestly look this problem in the eye.
  • by DroopyStonx (683090) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:50PM (#9762948)
    "This means all homebrew and hobbyist coders in the UK can no longer modify their consoles to run games they have written."

    Eh? You do realize that those people represent a very MINUTE portion of modchip users. Let's be blunt and to the point: modchips exist so one can copy and own PS2 games without paying for them. Flat out, that's what they're made for. That's what I use it for as well as almost every other modchip owner.

    In any case, this law doesn't matter much. This is just another one of those laws that people make a big stink about that turn out to be nothing to worry about, and rightfully so because if it affects you, just order a pre-modded PS2 from a shop overseas. Problem solved. It's not like they're gonna scan mail and see a PS2 and decide to open it up.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @03:56PM (#9763029)
    • Point #1 -- Just because Gary Jules credits p2p with the single's success doesn't necessarily mean that he is right.
    • Point #2 -- Even if he is right, just because p2p had a positive effect on this single does not mean that it would necessarily have the same effect in other cases, let alone a majority of cases. It could also have a negative effect, or no effect, depending on the circumstances.
    • Point #3 -- Even if p2p does have a positive effect all of the time, it is still in principle the copyright holder's prerogative to decide how, when, where, and even whether they wish to distribute what they own. No one else has the right to make that decision for them.
  • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @04:02PM (#9763110) Journal
    So where are you going to get your modchips from, except from someone selling them? Unless someone starts a modchip charity, you'll have to get your modchips from overseas.
  • by YoJ (20860) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @04:03PM (#9763120) Journal
    There is actually ambiguity in the English language on this issue (natural languages are ambiguous? Who would have guessed?) For an even simpler example, consider the following signs: (1) No eating and drinking in the library. (2) No eating or drinking in the library. (3) Return your overdue books or you will get fined. In the first case, "and" really means "nor". In the second case, "or" really means "nor". In the third case, "or" really means "xor".
  • Re:bah (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thpdg (519053) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @04:04PM (#9763127) Journal
    Do you hate highways, traffic signals, and schools, as well? How about emergency services, snow plows and possibly (depending on your area) garbage service?
    Do you hate parks and sidewalks and libraries?
    Sure, it's all underfunded. But look at countries with no funding for those things. They all seem a bit, well, third world.
  • by Anita Coney (648748) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @04:07PM (#9763155) Homepage
    It does not matter if every single mod chip was used to play ripped games. The issue is whether we own what we buy. It appears that consumers in the UK do not.

  • by Oligonicella (659917) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @04:08PM (#9763163)
    Ummm, no.

    You might pay attention to the commas: "...the sale, advertisement, possession for commercial purposes and use of..."

    Commercial purposes and use of. Meaning possession for commercial purposes and use in commercial purposes are illegal.

    Elsewise the language would have simply stopped at "possession".
  • by Cymsdale (772966) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @04:11PM (#9763205)
    "the abuse of something is never a good argument against the use of something"
    RFID *snicker*
  • Re:Don't Forget (Score:3, Insightful)

    by DrFrob (568991) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @04:22PM (#9763310)
    Following that logic: only X% of Americans are black, so employment discrimination against them is insignificant and should not be an issue.

    The needs of the many do not always outweigh the needs of the few. Likewise, the abuses of the many do not always outweigh the legitimate uses of the few.

  • Re:So what? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @04:25PM (#9763345)
    Oh and banning guns is just stupid, it does nothing to change the people who kill, nor limit thier ability to do so

    Umm, yes it does. A successful gun ban will reduce the flow of guns into criminal hands (as there will be no reason for anyone to own a gun or ammunition, so policing it is easier. Also guns won't get stolen from people.) and also mean that people who find their wives in bed with their brothers won't have a gun around.

    People are, in general, significantly more lethal with a gun than without one (otherwise we'd send the army to war with kitchen knives, or whatever other straw man lethal object you're going to wave at me), so to argue that a gun ban wouldn't reduce the number of killings is absurd.

    The real issues with a gun ban are:
    1. With legally held guns, private persons and criminals will have guns. With guns illegal, No private persons will have guns, and fewer, but unless policing gets dramatically more effective not zero, criminals will have guns. The criminal can now safely assume that a private person doesn't have a gun. It's probable that a gun ban would still result in fewer deaths, although having a population with legally-held guns may result in fewer deaths of non-criminals.

    2. The right to arm bears against the threat of an opressive government. I don't see an armed uprising against the dept. of homeland security though, so clearly this argument is nonsense.
  • Re:Don't Forget (Score:4, Insightful)

    by drwav (577314) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @04:28PM (#9763379)
    So what you are saying is that it is OK to make law outlawing something as long as it only adversely affects a minority of people.

    Let's say that 99% of people use mod chips to play copies of games that they didn't pay for (I just made that stat up to work with your argument), thus the 1% that use mod chips for legitimate uses must sacrifice their rights for the greater good.

    Sure it sounds reasonable at first, because chances are very good that it won't affect you in the slightest. However, if you sit and think about it for a minute and wonder how those few people who are being punished for the actions of other people might feel, you might start to realize that maybe this law isn't reasonable at all.

    If everyone practiced a little empathy before making broad judgements like this the world would be a much more pleasant place to live in.
  • Re:Don't Forget (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MachineShedFred (621896) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @04:35PM (#9763455) Journal
    While I fundamentally agree with what you are saying, here's the flaw:

    99.999% of the people that use cars are not fleeing from prosecution

    99.999% of the fertilizer that is produced is not used in the manufacture of explosives

    99.999% of the gasoline that comes from the hydrocarbon cracker is not used to burn down buildings

    99.999% of the modchips ARE used for playing illegal copies of games.

    Not flaming here, just pointing out something that is somewhat obvious to me. I hate the erosion of rights as much as anyone else around here, but let's call a spade what it is, shall we?

    * these statistics are for dramatic purposes, and I lay no claim to them being accurate.
  • by rapiddescent (572442) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @05:22PM (#9763995)
    Well this is very interesting because Sony got away with a punitive tax levy on the PS2 being imported to the UK because Sony proved that the PS2 was a customisable computer that could run user programs (not limited to Sony approved games). Thats why the UK versions came with PS2 Basic - to essentially make the console a home computer rather than a games console.

    One of the main differentiations between a game console and a home computer is that a game console has a restriction on the software installed on it.

    Games consoles imported into the UK from outside the euro zone attract a large import duty. I hope that Customs and Excise will now be retrospectively collecting import duty for every PS2 sold in the UK and interest on the late payment of that duty going back over time.

    rd

  • by Kirth (183) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @05:31PM (#9764097) Homepage
    You'll be crying when they outlaw the mod-chips for your PC that enables you to run non-TCPA-compliant operating systems like Linux or *BSD.

    Obviously, they're taking away your right to do whatever you see fit with your rightfully bought equipment (playstation) just because some company thinks its a solution for some problem that company has. Do you really think Sony (or insert your favourite other company or association, like Microsoft or the RIAA or the MPAA) should write your law?
    --
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @06:00PM (#9764380)
    No, he is not wrong, and the commas DO matter. They matter both in common English and in Law, and they certainly matter in English Law.


    Never assume General British Style (whatever that may be) applies to case law or rulings thereof. Find ONE British legal expert to back up your claim.

    That's great. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. However, the text in question is not from any legal document at all. It is the opening paragraph of the article on the Register. The actual ruling probably has less ambiguous language, but the Register's wording seems to clearly indicate that non-commercial use of the modchips is also illegal.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @06:01PM (#9764393)
    The article makes it quite clear that using a modchip is illegal, but what about the various other methods for executing homebrew code and the like?

    Over the last year or so, Swap Magic boot disc and Slide Tool combinations have been selling like hot cakes. Without fitting a modchip or altering the internals of the machine in any way, you can simply insert the disc, use a small piece of plastic to manually eject the tray, and then insert a CD-R or DVD-R containing whatever the hell you want.

    I would estimate that there are currently more people using these than fitted modchips, at least in the UK. HDLoader, a piece of software that allows you to copy store-bought games to a fitted hard drive, was released only a month ago. Definately not a modchip, but is it illegal or not?

    Recent non-modchip solutions seem to target "backup" users specifically. Speak to anyone serious about importing and they'll explain that a fitted modchip is the only sensible option, because they will allow booting of dual-layered DVDs and the increasing number of problem games that need to be ripped, patched and burnt to run on anything that isn't a fitted chip.

    I realise that this will obviously affect those who use the devices for bad a lot more than those who use it for good (imports/development), but I reckon I wouldn't be far wrong to assume that an ageing relic of a judge knows nothing of the various perfectly legal applications for such devices.
  • Re:Don't Forget (Score:2, Insightful)

    by StillAnonymous (595680) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @06:10PM (#9764515)
    Yes, because that works OH SO WELL for drugs and other things that have been made illegal and forced underground.

    Take a look at the drug scene and the REAL crime that surrounds it thanks to the wonderous insight of the lawmakers.

    This is just great! I can't wait for drive by shootings and 10 year olds being sent out with guns to sell people the latest in forbidden computer hardware.
  • Re:So what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by N3koFever (777608) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @06:34PM (#9764749)
    Ditto. I work in a UK game store and we mod PS2s (and will continue to do so - it's always been an under-the-counter thing because Sony reps don't like sending you more stuff when they see you offering mods), but 90% of people who get it done so that they can buy imports which we also sell. We'll stop doing it when Sony give us a fair deal - release more RPGs than just Final Fantasy, give 60Hz options to all games, and don't make us wait a year for a game that's available across the Atlantic now. When they do that people won't have a legitimate reason for modchips and we'll stop doing it.
  • by zogger (617870) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @08:37PM (#9765667) Homepage Journal
    I really am, just was commenting on the obvious legal hypocrisy with automobiles. I will also ramble here and there some, as I have a brain that apparently works that way....

    I wasn't commenting on the modchips per se, I was commenting on the fact that cars are *definelty* sold with the expectations that at least some times the laws will be broken with them. It is 100% undeniable true stuff facts data. and I will repeat, they COULD sell cars that absolutely could not exceed the speed limit, yet they don't, that is pure evidence to show they know that cars WILL be used illegally, at least some of the time. they could mandate a totally legal car, they could make a mandated legal car, yet they do not. there is a reason for it, and that reason is the expectation and casual acception of illegal use of the car, along with legal use.

    And it's similar to the modchips if you really want to ask me directly on the subject, not all games played on modded consoles are illegal, just some of them some of the time. Just like some times people drive cars legally, and sometimes they don't. It's one of those deals where the laws are so lame that almost everyone ignores them. I see it similar to these games. I can see wrongness and rightness to it, from both points of view, so that pushes me into a neutrality stance.

    And BTW, I don't game, own a console, download MP3s or movies,etc, never have. I'm not a hypocrite about it. I have paid for shareware in the past and actually deleted it if it had a time out period and I really didn'twant it. I'm just a freeking square boy sprout when it comes to such matters, but I also can see when a law is so stupid it will get broken because of it's stupid-ness. I just call em like I see 'em. Similar to what I see happened to the music and movie guys, I have watched them over the years cry crocodile tears over their hundreds of zillions in profits, and every generation of technology is going to "destroy" them they declare, and periodically they get busted for industry collusion and price fixing, but that's about it, so I don't mind seeing them boys get borrowed from with cheap-to-make-copies. They coulda long ago come out with the one or two collar cd and made more money then they make now, but they are so greedy they don't understand this. They don't understand people didn't want to buy an unlistened to pig in a poke, or just this weeks top 40 that they create and push. they don't get it, never got it, and won't ever get it, too greedy, greed lead to insanity, they are stuck rthere. No law says a rich person can't be insane, is there? that's what happens to people who get greedy, they have gone *insane* and they then go on to make other stupid decisions based around their insanity, Political leaders get afflicted with advanced megalomania. Industries get it when it comes to dominance and "making money".

    So..when it became easy to do, either modding or copying or whatever, people just did it themselves. I think they broke their trust and ethical and moral high ground a LONG time ago. I don't take their stuff,or buy their stuff, but I feel the same way about them if the hells angels stole something from the devils disciples-ehh, so what, who cares?

    I don't believe in IP patents, none whatsoever. If it isn't a tangible,and built,at least a good to scale working model, no patent. That's my idea of a real product worth patenting. One of the dumbest things ever foisted on the US consumer and business world, and ESPECIALLY allowing a so called "product" to be sold with no warranty, excuse me, "licensed to use" with no warranty, is the patenting of intangibles. Hideously lame. Wicked stupid. harmful in the short, medium and long terms for advancing the useful arts and sciences. It's a congame and a scam, and as such, I think it's a fair play to scam them back if they insist on it..but not for me. I just ignore them, boycott, same as I do with overpriced hollywood tripe, "games", and whatever they claim is music. I got better things to do.
  • by aussie_a (778472) on Wednesday July 21, 2004 @10:08PM (#9766176) Journal
    Most of the people posting here are unqualified simply because their American. Americans aren't adversely affected by these types of laws as THEIR playstation can play any game they want (most games are in NTSC format).

    The people who this law does affect are adversely affected* are having our fair use rights infringed upon. I don't care that the majority of people use it for illegal purposes. Make the selling of copied games illegal, not the tool to use it. It's like banning blank videos. A lot of the use for them is to illegally copy videos.

    A lot of people DO import copied games. We might be a minority, but I don't see why we should have our fair use trampled on when we have done nothing wrong. Punish those who commit the crimes.

    * Fortunately I'm not a UKian, but if a similar law was brought out in Australia I would be as we use PAL.
  • Re:So what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Xrikcus (207545) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @05:42AM (#9768117)
    I don't believe I suggested that, no. You have little fear of the mugger killing you if they become frightened, there is a big difference.

    An unarmed mugger will pick a target he can easily overpower. Give the target a gun and the mugger feels he has to carry a gun also. Give the mugger a gun and put any fear into the mugger and you're at risk of a shooting.

    The other issue is that most muggings don't involve obvious approach at distance, this is the only situation under which you're likely to be able to draw a gun to defend yourself, so what good does it do?

    With US laws, I would certainly want to own a gun, it doesn't pose any particular moral problems for me to do so. However, I prefer the situation here were gun ownership is low enough that I don't feel that need, and don't feel that carrying one would make me any safer

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