Reports claim Australian court rules mod chips legal

An Australian high court has rejected an appeal by Sony Computer Entertainment in a case which ruled that mod chips were legal, according to reports which have appeared online - apparently contradicting a ruling to the contrary last month.

According to the report, the ruling by the Federal Court threw out an appeal by Sony against an earlier ruling by the Victorian Supreme Court which ordered it to pay the full legal costs of, and make a public apology to, two Melbourne companies which had advertised mod chipping services for PSone and PS2 consoles.

However, this would appear to run contrary to an earlier case, in which Sony won a case against one Eddy Stevens, who was ordered to cease providing mod chips and to pay Sony's legal costs in the case - with a decision about damages still pending. This case took place almost exactly a month ago, and only last week the USA claimed that it was pulling back slightly in its "negotiations" with Australia over copyright laws, mollified mostly by the Stevens decision which established that "copyright circumvention devices" (like mod chips) are illegal there.

So has the Australian legal system taken a complete U-turn, or is this simply mis-reporting? The reports of the case are quite detailed, claiming that Sony was defeated over the fact that mod chips do not themselves allow the copying of games in the console; however, although the story is spreading quickly online, the original source remains unclear.

Furthermore, a search of legal case archives in Australia turns up no case which matches this description, although it's possible that the ruling is so recent that no official online archive of it yet exists. For now at least, this story remains impossible to either confirm or deny; we'll bring you further information as it becomes available.

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