Consumers lose in playstation decision
Consumers will suffer a loss of choice and may pay more for their games following the decision by the Full Federal Court that Sony PlayStation owners could not have their games consoles 'chipped'.
Sony was successful yesterday in its appeal against an earlier Federal Court decision. The Full Court interpreted the new anti-circumvention provisions of the Copyright Act 1968 to outlaw the sale of the modification chips which overcome region coding restrictions.
The Full Federal Court judgment confirms that region coding exists to prevent or inhibit copyright infringement and, therefore, that the sale of modification chips breaches the Copyright Act.
The region coding enables Sony to produce and distribute PlayStation games in three mutually exclusive regions. It effectively prevents games produced in one region from being played on a console manufactured for a different region. These regional restrictions can be overcome by the installation of a 'mod chip' which allows consumers to use PlayStation games from all regions, irrespective of the region for which the console and game was produced.
"Chipping has allowed consumers to modify their PlayStation console to play imported and backup copies of games", ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today. "While the ACCC supports Sony's right to crack down on the sale of pirated copies of Playstation games, this decision now means Australian consumers will be unable to enjoy games legitimately bought overseas, as well as legitimate backup copies.
"The ACCC believes region coding is detrimental to consumers as it severely limits their choice and, in some cases, access to competitively priced goods. The ACCC is disappointed that technology which can overcome these unfair restrictions will not be generally available for consumers' use.
"The Government recently legislated to ease the restrictions on parallel imports of computer software. Yesterday's decision may have the unintended consequence of eroding this advance for consumers".
The proceedings were taken by Sony against an individual involved in chipping PlayStation consoles and selling unauthorised copies of PlayStation games. The ACCC was granted leave of the court to be heard as a friend of the court (amicus curiae). The ACCC again appeared as amicus curiae in the appeal.