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The Australian High Court has ruled against Sony Computer Entertainment Australia, declaring that a man who modified PlayStation consoles, allowing them to play unauthorized games, did not breach copyright laws. The decision concludes a four-year legal battle between Sony and Eddy Stevens who installed “mod chips” — modification chips — in PlayStations in a backyard operation. Sony claimed the chips infringed on their copyright as they were overriding protection measures installed in the games consoles. But the High Court ruled Sony’s practice of only allowing specially coded games to be played on PlayStations did not meet the legislative definition of “technological protection measures,” as they did not prevent or inhibit a copy being made, they only stopped them being played. Sony PlayStations have different access codes for different areas of the world and the court noted that a game bought legally in Japan or the United States could not be played on an Australian PlayStation unless it was modified. The court said these restrictions went beyond relevant copyright rules, adding, “apparently intentionally, those restrictions reduce global market competition” and inhibit the “ordinary rights” of Australian consumers. But the decision in favor of “mod chips,” which also allow illegally copied games to be played, could have ramifications for Australia’s free trade agreement with the United States, the Australian Financial Review reported, as the United States has been calling for tougher laws to protect intellectual property rights. Attorney General Philip Ruddock said the decision clarified the way the Copyright Act defined a technological protection measure and would be considered in drafting new laws, the report said. Sony declined to comment. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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