UK console modder wins appeal

Legal case against MrModChips retailer is quashed based on argument that piracy preceeded mod chip use; defendant awarded full costs.

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An online retailer who imported mod chips from Hong Kong to allow overseas and copied games to be played on consoles walked free from court yesterday, opening up the possibility that modding may now be legal in the UK.

Neil Higgs, who runs Web site MrModChips, was facing the possibility of up to two years in jail for importing and selling the chips since 2002. The 38-year-old operated his business from his parents' home in Bristol and sold both pre-modded consoles and the chips themselves.

According to Team Xecuter, "the granting of this appeal based on the argument that the copyright infringement has already taken place before the use of a mod chip has resulted in the squashing of all 26 counts." The appeal was heard by Judge Justice Jacobs.

The MrModChips Web site currently has a picture of former British prime minister Winston Churchill making the victory sign and the word "Victory!" Higgs also thanked his legal team and well wishers for their support during his case.

GameSpot confirmed with the Court of Appeal Criminal Division that the counts against Higgs had been quashed.

The verdict of the appeals case follows one in Australia, which legalized mod chips in the country back in 2002, when Sony lost its legal battle to sue a seller. Judge Ronald Sackville declared that the mod chips did not violate Australian laws forbidding circumventing "technological protection measures," as they also prevented legal activity including playing backup and imported games.

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