“If Sony has any sense at all, it should be content with the money it makes,” said Eddy Stevens on Friday, after his landmark legal victory the day before against Sony Computer Entertainment Australia.
Stevens, who runs a business that modifies and repairs PlayStation games console equipment, was taken to court by Sony for copyright infringement in 2001.
It has been an up and down battle for Stevens, who over the course of the four-year case has tasted both success and defeat. In 2002, the case was ruled in his favour, but a year later this decision was overturned as Sony’s appeal was upheld before the Federal Court.
Unable to pursue an appeal without legal representation, Steven’s case was adopted by Gadens Lawyers on a pro bono basis.
“You could say our secret ingredient was pro bono,” Stevens told Australian PC World.
In its unanimous ruling on Thursday, the court decreed that modifying Sony PlayStation consoles so they can play overseas versions of the company’s games did not violate Australian copyright laws.
It added that while making a pirated copy of a game is illegal, playing a game using a mod chip is not.
Stevens said the ruling was a huge win for everyone, while his lawyers heralded the ruling as a “landmark copyright case” championing the rights of consumers.
“If there was another court to appeal to, you could bet your bloody breath that Sony would,” Stevens said.
The ruling will allow Australian consumers to buy computer games and hardware offshore at a lower price, then modify them.
“Sony did what it thought it had to do, but we weren’t going to lie down and cop it sweet,” said Stevens.
“If it wanted to win it should have picked on someone who would have caved in.”
One member of the Gadens Lawyers team, Nathan Mattock, said, “Fortunately for the consumer, the court has prevented a multinational corporation from further eroding consumer rights. It’s a great win for the little guy in the street.”
Sony was ordered to pay the legal costs, which will run into hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The company did not make any comment at this stage.