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June 13, 2008

Hardware mods declared legal


by Brian Turner

In a court case likely to have an impact on the cable industry, a landmark ruling at the Court of Appeal has determined that modifying the hardware of an Xbox does not breach copyright and patents laws.

Neil Higgs, 38, trading under the name of Mr Mod Chips, was taken to court for selling modified chipsets for use in Xbox gaming consoles.

Judge Jacob ruled that modding an Xbox with third-party chips which could allow multi-region and even pirate game play, and related hardware modifications, was not in breach of the law.

If extrapolated to hardware modifications in general, it would also mean that modifying cable box receivers would also be exempt from the relevant copyright and patents act from Brussels.

This could also impact recent cases where companies selling chipped cable boxes have been fined.

However, even if modifying hardware is not illegal, users should remember that software piracy and accessing pay-for TV for free are and are done so at the users own risk.

In the meantime, even though modifying an Xbox has now been ruled as legal, consumers should be warned that it almost certainly invalidates relevant warranties and manufacturer guarantees.

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