Sat, 08 Oct 2005

Sony Stevens Surprise

Unfortunately I am in Spain with no other Australians to celebrate with. But celebrate I will.

The best and most reliable information, as always, is found on Kim Weatherall's blog: I've read that, Matthew Rimmer's excellent points, and most of the decision itself.

I have previously expressed the opinion that the best outcome would be for the court could rule against Stevens, but in such a way that did not make mod-chips illegal. To do so, they could have decontructd the measures circumvented into one which inhibited copyright violation (a TPM), one which prevented backups from working (not a TPM), one which prevented one from playing third-party games (not a TPM), one which prevented playing overseas games (not a TPM), etc. The question then becomes: "did Stevens's mod chips have no significant commercial purpose other than circumventing the TPM" and the answer is "no". Do general mod chips have no significant commercial purpose other than circumventing the TPM? Yes. Such a decision would have neutered any argument that our laws are insufficient without the extreme overreach that Sony was proposing.

But I'm happy despite the coming shit-fight over the implementation of 17.4.7 of the FTA which this decision has guaranteed. I'm happy because one thing shines through: the highest court in Australia understands that this is a question of copyright trumping normal property rights (or rights over "chattels" as the court says, which I had to look up on

Music and movie industries argue that copying == stealing, although it's obvious that the mere act of making a copy doesn't deprive anyone of anything. Removing the legitimate propery rights of others, however, is stealing, clear and simple. The courts have balked at supporting this theft; will the government?

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