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.
Under the UK's implementation of the European Union Copyright Directive (EUCD), Europe's answer to the controversial US Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it is illegal to bypass copy protection mechanisms. On that basis Mr Justice Laddie ruled that David Ball had acted unlawfully by selling 1500 Messiah 2 mod chips which enabled such circumvention.
The Messiah chips were offered as a way to allow UK PS2s not only to play legitimate US and Japanese games, but pirated titles and back-up copies made by users, which Sony forbids in the UK.
The UK enacted the EUCD in October 2003. The Directive has similarly been enacted in a number of other EU member states, allowing Sony to pursue mod chip sellers. Recently, it won just such a case in Belgium.
That said, there have been setbacks. 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".
And in Spain, it emerged that a loophole in Spanish copyright law legalises mod chips even though they run contrary to the spirit of the country's intellectual property legislation. ®