The Null Device

Modchips legal in Australia

The Australian High Court has just ruled that console modchips are legal, as they can be used to play legally-purchased software from different regions. This reinforces an earlier ruling, which Sony and others were hoping would be overridden by the draconian paracopyright provisions in the US-Australian Free Trade Agreement; their hopes, thankfully, were dashed:
"in construing a definition which focuses on a device designed to prevent or inhibit the infringement of copyright, it is important to avoid an overbroad construction which would extend the copyright monopoly rather than match it. A defect in the construction rejected by Sackville J is that its effect is to extend the copyright monopoly by including within the definition not only technological protection measures which stop the infringement of copyright, but also devices which prevent the carrying out of conduct which does not infringe copyright and is not otherwise unlawful. One example of that conduct is playing in Australia a program lawfully acquired in the United States. It was common ground in the courts below and in argument in this Court that this act would not of itself have been an infringement."
Which means that Australians can now legally play Katamari Damacy and such. (Except perhaps that importation of games without an OFLC classification may technically be a criminal offence.)

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