Lawyers from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE) have won a High Court action in the UK against a defendant accused of selling 1,500 “Messiah 2” modification chips for the PlayStation 2. The Messiah 2 chip allows pirated and imported games to be played on a standard PAL console.
The Judge confirmed that using such chips, knowing that they give the ability to bypass the PlayStation 2's technical protection measures to play pirated or copied games, is unlawful. He also concluded that advertising such devices and possessing them for a commercial purpose was also illegal.
The trade in modchips to enable grey importing is particularly prevalent in the UK, which traditionally suffers from delayed and cancelled releases from the US and Japan, as well as poor quality conversions from the NTSC to PAL video formats.
The case is the first to be brought in the UK under the law relating to circumvention of copy protection and technical protection measures, following the UK's implementation of the EU Copyright Directive in October 2003.
Attempts on mainland Europe to stop the sell of modchips has proven less successful in the past with test cases in both Italy and Spain finding against console manufacturers, with only Belgium joining the UK in ruling the chips illegal.