PIRATES OF THE PLAYSTATION WALK THE PLANK


(This is an archived case summary)

Sony manufactured and sold PlayStation games on CD-ROMs for which it owned the copyright. To protect its copyright, Sony imbedded an "access code" on each CD-ROM that worked in concert with a "boot ROM chip" in each PlayStation console. The boot ROM chip would only allow CD-ROMs with valid access codes to run on the PlayStation console and the access code on each CD-ROM could not be copied by conventional copying devices.

Mr. Ball thwarted this system by creating a "Messiah 2" chip that would allow pirated PlayStation CD-ROMs without valid access codes to be played on a modified PlayStation console. Sony sued Ball under the U.K. Copyright Act, which provides a right of action against a person who manufactures, imports, distributes, offers for sale, advertises or possesses for commercial purposes devices for the purpose of circumventing technological protection measures that have been applied to a copyright work.

The court found that Sony's protection measures was a "copyright protection" means under the Act and that the Messiah 2 chip results in an infringing copy of Sony's works by allowing portions of the CD-ROMs to be loaded into RAM memory. The court held that the temporary or "ephemeral" nature of the portions of Sony's work that were loaded into RAM qualified as an infringing copy under the Act. The court found that Ball had breached the Act by distributing, offering for sale, advertising and holding in possession for commercial purposes a copyright circumventing device.

Kabushiki Kaisha Sony Computer Entertainment v. Ball
[2004] EWHC 1738 (Ch.)

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