Console Modder’s Appeal Tossed in UK Court

November 10, 2009 -

A UK man found guilty in 2008 of installing mod chips into Xbox, PlayStation, PlayStation 2 and GameCube consoles has seen an appeal of his conviction denied.

Christopher Paul Gilham sold the hacked consoles, which enabled users to play counterfeit games, from October 2003 through January 2006.

The appeal focused on the issue of “whether the playing of a counterfeit DVD involves substantial copying of a copyright work.” Following some discourse on the term “substantial,” the Court wrote:

The various drawings that result in the images shown on the television screen or monitor are themselves artistic works protected by copyright. The images shown on the screen are copies, and substantial copies, of those works. If the game is the well-known Tomb Raider, for example, the screen displays Lara Croft, a recognisable character who has been created by the labour and skill of the original artist.

The Court concluded that:

It is not necessary in future to show that a substantial copy of the game is made in Random Access Memory (RAM), all that needs to be shown is that some copyright work contained within the videogame is substantially copied e.g. the image of a game character.

The Entertainment and Leisure Publishers Association (ELSPA) applauded the decision, saying that it welcomed the copyright clarification.

ELSPA Director General Michael Rawlinson added:

Protecting intellectual property (IP) theft is an important issue for the country’s videogames industry. This judgment strengthens copyright law and will be a significant step in helping us protect the industry.

Text from the full judgment can be viewed here.


Comments

Re: Console Modder’s Appeal Tossed in UK Court

A shame the media mafia managed to buy off another verdict.... Hardware modification is not infringement of any kind its consumers staying smart.Go after those selling software/media illicitly and nothing more.


Until lobbying is a hanging offense I choose anarchy! Stop supporting big media and furthering the criminalization of consumers!! http://zippydsmlee.wordpress.com/


Copyright infringement is nothing more than civil disobedience to a bad set of laws. Let's renegotiate them.

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Re: Console Modder’s Appeal Tossed in UK Court

And they say that Australia is backwards for our ratings system  (which is admittedly somewhat backwards). At least our parallel import laws allow us to chip consoles for region lock circumvention. 

Re: Console Modder’s Appeal Tossed in UK Court

It seems the next step along this ludicrous line of reasoning would be for courts to decide that game publishers are free to sue computer monitor manufacturers for infringement, for every computer monitor used in gaming is displaying substantial copies of copyrighted characters and designs. If installing mod chips constitutes infringement due to the fact that a mod chip makes possible the unauthorized display of copyrighted material, then so must the making and selling of computer monitors be considered an infringing activity. Furthermore, if the fact that mod chips have legitimate uses (homebrew/imports) is irrelevant, then so must the fact that computer monitors can be used for non-infringing activities such as displaying your own content.

Re: Console Modder’s Appeal Tossed in UK Court

You're such a tool.  Equating a standard output device to modifying a console so that it can play pirated games and unzoned discs it completely asinine.

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Re: Console Modder’s Appeal Tossed in UK Court

I must admit, your rationale is very compelling. Your use of the word "completely" in "completely asinine" is truly what clinches the argument, I think.

Re: Console Modder’s Appeal Tossed in UK Court

Heh, current copyright law is the exact same thing as taking out a phone booth with a nuke. It gets the job done but a LOT of innocent people are harmed in the process.

Wars, weather on a battle field or in a courtroom, always harm the innocent. Perhaps we should outlaw cars. They're not intended for illegal purposes, but one getaway or one hit and run should be reason enough for a ban, amirite?

Re: Console Modder’s Appeal Tossed in UK Court

Sounds like this would be in the gray area.

 

 

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Re: Console Modder’s Appeal Tossed in UK Court

He profited off of copyright infringement, how is that gray?

Re: Console Modder’s Appeal Tossed in UK Court

Technically he enabled the possibility, but did not directly infringe upon any IP. While I wouldn't be suprised if 90% of his sales probably went towards modding consoles with the intent to play pirated games; all he did was sell a small electrical component.

Is it the fault of the store you bought the crowbar at if you killed a person with it?

So long as the item in question can perform legal functions, does not directly harm anyones health or well being through legal use, and does not break any existing laws (Dam you DMCA in the US) then I find it hard to believe you can inherently ban things like this. Of course it also depends on the power of the courts; what law did the court find him in violation of? I'm not familiar with the UK's judicial system but can judges there just make up rulings through vague associations?(US has this problem pretty often. Irks me to no end.)

If they want to get anyone it should be the suppliers of the copied games; there should be no real defense or potential rights infringements there.

 

Re: Console Modder’s Appeal Tossed in UK Court

Well, the 'grey' would be that he was not doing any copyright infringment himself (unlike people who, say, pre-load a console with pirated titles after chipping it for sale).

Reading over the actual motion, it is a little scary.  The court notes that mod chips have other uses, but then dirrectly says they are irrelevent.  They also state that the defendents intentions are irrelevent.

The law is looking purely at what other people are able to do with the chips after they leave the defendent's supervion.  Which if it was anything other then IP would be laughed out of court.

 
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