Unlicensed devices designed to circumvent console anti-piracy measures may be legal, the European Union Court of Justice ruled today. The Court had been asked to clarify the extent of Nintendo's legal protection against such measures by the Milan District Court.
The lower court had been dealing with a dispute between Nintendo and PC Box, a mod chip seller whose products allow unlicensed software (including homebrew as well as pirated games) to run on Nintendo systems.
"The Court of Justice next states that the legal protection covers only the technological measures intended to prevent or eliminate unauthorised acts of reproduction, communication, public offer or distribution, for which authorisation from the copyrightholder is required," the court rules. "That legal protection must respect the principle of proportionality without prohibiting devices or activities which have a commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent the technical protection for unlawful purposes." [All emphasis in original.]
However, the Court also noted that the Milan District Court must look at the ways people actually use the devices in question, and if Nintendo could implement other effective protection measures that would curb piracy while minimizing negative impacts on homebrew software and consumer choice.
A Nintendo representative had not returned a request for comment as of press time.