All Counts Thrown Out in Criminal Case v. UK Modder

Wednesday, a UK judge threw out 26 charges against the self-styled "No. 1 name in console modifications," leaving MrModChips, as Neil Higgs is known, to freely do his business (from his parents' home.) More broadly, some are hailing the decision as effectively legalising console modifications in Great Britain, six years after a similar decision in Australia.

Higgs got into trouble because he sold modchips that allowed copied and overseas games to be played on Nintendo and Microsoft consoles. In October, Higgs was convicted of 26 antipiracy counts and faced a £1M fine and two years in jail. But a judge ruled in favour of his appeal, which is that any copyright infringement involved here had taken place before the use of the modchips Higgs had sold, and thus the chips themselves do not circumvent copyright protection. Thus, there was no basis for charging Higgs, and he's free, and his legal bills will be reimbursed.

His website is back up, replete with a posthumous Churchillian endorsement of his fight, though it doesn't look like he's taking orders just yet.

Gamespot points out Australia's de facto legalization of mod chips in 2002, when a judge found that mod chips prevented legal activities such as playing backed-up or imported games. That ruling also found that mod chips did not violate laws against circumventing copyright protections.

MrModchips wins appeal in £1million UK modchip case !!![Team-Xecuter, via Gamespot]


    Just further to the article, the law in Australia was changed not that long ago, modchips of all flavours were legal for a time and several businesses began offering console mods as a service. As of January this year the law changed to state that modchips that circumvented copy protection routines and allowed pirated software to be used were illegal. Only modchips that bypassed region coding are "legal" in Australia now, not that it really makes any difference.

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