Sony loses PlayStation copyright case in Australia

Court rules that modifying machines to run overseas versions of Sony games legal

"If Sony has any sense at all, they should be content with the money they make," said Eddy Stevens on Friday after his landmark victory against Sony Computer Entertainment Australia in the High Court of Australia the previous day.

Stevens, who runs a business that modifies and repairs PlayStation games console equipment, was taken to court by Sony for copyright infringement in 2001.

It has been an up and down battle for the small businessman, who over the course of the four-year case has tasted both success and defeat. In 2002, his case was ruled in his favour, but a year later overturned as Sony's appeal was upheld before the Federal Court.

Unable to pursue an appeal without legal representation, Stevens' case was adopted by Gadens Lawyers on a pro bono basis.

In its unanimous ruling on Thursday, the court decreed that modifying Sony PlayStation consoles so they can play overseas versions of the company's games did not violate Australian copyright laws.

It added that while making a pirated copy of a game is illegal, playing a game using a mod chip is not.

Stevens said the ruling was a huge win for everyone while his lawyers heralded the ruling as a "landmark copyright case" championing the rights of consumers.

"If there was another court to appeal to, you could bet your bloody breath that Sony would," Stevens said.

The ruling will allow Australian consumers to buy offshore (at a lower price) and modify computer games and hardware.

However, pirated versions of popular revenue earners for Sony such as the Grand Theft Auto and Burnout series will now be possible to play on chipped consoles.

"Sony did what they thought they had to do, but we weren't going to lie down and cop it sweet," said Stevens.

"If they wanted to win they should have picked on someone who would have caved in."

Part of Gadens Lawyers team, Nathan Mattock said, "Fortunately for the consumer, the court has prevented a multinational corporation from further eroding consumer rights. It's a great win for the 'little guy in the street.'"

Sony was ordered to pay the legal costs, which will run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The company did not have any comment at this stage.

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