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October 6, 2005, 3:19 am
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Australian High Court rules in favour of modders
By Staff Writers, CRN 6 October 2005 11:50 AEST Hardware
The High Court of Australia has ruled that Australian consumers and
overseas travellers can buy cheaper computer games and hardware
offshore and modify them locally.
Gadens Lawyers, who represented appellant Eddy Stevens in the High
Court suit, released a statement today following the ruling, calling
the win a "landmark copyright case" championing the rights of
Stevens ran a business that modified and repaired PlayStation games
console equipment. Mod chips let gamers ignore vendors' regional coding
systems to buy cheaper games designed for markets outside of Australia.
Stevens had been fighting PlayStation maker Sony in the High Court of
Australia for four years to establish the right of consumers and
businesses such as his to do so, Gadens said.
"All six judges of the High Court held that widely used 'mod-chips'
were legal, with far reaching implications for the manufacturers of
computer games -- Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft - and consumers," the
law firm said.
The High Court also ruled that playing a game on a consumer machine
does not constitute making an illegal copy of that game, Gadens said.
Michaell Bradley, managing partner at Gadens and counsel for Stevens,
said the win was excellent news for Australian consumers.
"The judiciary and the consumer watchdog categorically upheld the
rights of the little guy against the might of a multinational," Bradley
Gadens added in its statement that the Australian Competition and
Consumer Commission (ACCC) had stepped in as a friend of the court at
Federal Court level to argue that regional coding was detrimental to
Nathan Mattock, senior associate for Gadens and part of Stevens' legal
team on the High Court case, said the legal issues involved in the case
had been complex.
"The court has had to interpret copyright law within the ever-changing
technical environment in which we live. Fortunately for the consumer,
the court has prevented a multinational corporation from further
eroding consumer rights," Mattock said.
Gadens litigation team had handled several other landmark copyright and
technology cases, including a Federal Court case for the Australian
Video Retailers Association (AVRA) against Warner Home Video.
"Also a test case, it was comparable to Stevens versus Sony because it
dealt with the issue of copying and explored the nature of the
technology used for playing DVDs. Gadens Lawyers' client was
successful against Warner," the law firm said.