Japanese used-game law circumvented

Retailers are finding ways around restrictions on console-resale law--just days after it was implemented.

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While a law restricting the sale of used electronics meeting certain criteria went into effect in Japan earlier this month, gamers and retailers are already finding ways around it.

As of April 1, Japan's Electrical Appliance and Material Safety Law made it illegal for a business to sell any console that plugs directly into a power outlet but does not carry a "PSE" stamp certifying that it meets current safety standards. The law will also apply to consoles that use AC adaptors but don't carry the stamp, although there is a grace period during which those products can be bought and sold until April 1, 2008. Although the law theoretically allows recertification of old equipment, it's unlikely that manufacturers will be willing to refurbish their old consoles' power supplies up to contemporary standards.

Japanese online news site ITmedia Inc. has posted a report examining the wording and impact of the law, as well as loopholes and work-arounds that will likely preserve the country's used-console market in some form for the foreseeable future.

While machines without AC adaptors are likely a lost cause, peripheral maker Hori has released a solution for some old-console devotees. The company has produced a PSE-certified AC adaptor that is compatible with a number of old consoles, including the Famicom, Super Famicom, Megadrive I, and PC Engine. For 1,500 yen ($12.65), fans of these consoles can replace their unstamped AC adaptors and rest assured that their vintage hardware meets all the latest safety standards.

ITmedia also found some loopholes in the law. Apparently it does not cover two key areas: individual sales and console rentals. So personal auctions and similar transactions for old consoles are still legal. Moreover, even though sales are banned, the law does not restrict businesses from renting non-PSE-certified consoles.

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