Australia Disagrees With Spain & France; Says Nintendo Mod Chips Are Illegal
from the problems-down-under dept
Copyright rulings in Australia have been a real mixed bag lately, haven’t they? There was the wonderful iiNet ruling that said ISPs weren’t liable for actions of their users, and the ruling on telephone books saying you can’t copyright facts. But then there was the Kookaburra ruling that found infringement in an 80s song of a popular children’s folks song. And, to balance things out, now there’s another bad ruling, that seems to go against the very principles explained in the iiNet rulings.
Slashdot points us to the news that an Australian court has ruled in favor of Nintendo, against the distributor of mod chips that can be used in Nintendo DS devices. Nintendo has been busy suing such distributors around the globe, though so far without much success. In places like Spain and France, courts were smart enough to realize that just distributing these chips — which can be used for legal purposes as well as infringing purposes — should not be considered infringement itself. It’s the basic question of secondary liability, and figuring out if a third party should take the blame for actions of end users. In the iiNet case, the court realized that doing so would result in misplaced blame. In this case, the court didn’t seem to care.
It’s really too bad, because the court is basically saying that users don’t have the right to modify a product they legally purchased and own. And, on top of that, a company selling a product that has perfectly legal uses can be held liable for the fact that some users also do unauthorized things with it. That’s a troubling precedent by any measure.