Games traders take on mod-chipping

A games reseller claims his campaign against newspaper advertisements for mod-chipping is paying off in South Australia.

In January, Tony Eyles of Ingle Farm games reseller, Game Traders, sparked off a reseller letter campaign by writing to publisher, News Ltd, to ask it to stop accepting advertisements for mod-chipping services.

In the letter, Eyles told News Ltd that he was passing a copy of the January 4, 2004 issue of the Sunday Mail to Sony’s investigation team “for them to follow up and proceed with any prosecutions they see fit against the mod-chippers, the buyers or the promoters”.

“I was trying for a moral stance from them,” Eyles said.

His campaign gained support when his letter was forwarded by games distributor, AFA Interactive, to its client base of several hundred resellers.

The distributor had encouraged other resellers to follow Eyles’ lead and write to newspapers to discourage their acceptance of mod-chipping advertisements, AFA sales representative, Tristan Newsome, said.

“It created a bit of discussion and they’re putting pressure on as well,” Newsome said.

While Eyles claimed he hadn’t received notification from News Ltd regarding a change of its advertising policy, he thought it had modified its advertisements:

“I did notice the Sunday Mail has changed substantially.”

Ads referring to PS2 mod-chipping had disappeared completely, he claimed.

But Xbox mods were still being advertised, Eyles said.

“One ad changed to repairs to PS2 and Xbox mods,” he said.

While Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) finance and IT director, Nic Foster, was unable to comment specifically on whether SCE had been in contact with News Ltd regarding the advertising of mod-chipping services, he said that the PS2 vendor was continually working with the media as part of its anti-piracy campaign.

“It’s not like we can dictate to papers what to do," Foster said. "It’s something we have to come to a mutual agreement on."

He said that Sony monitored media advertising and that its anti-piracy team investigated the services of the advertisers to identify whether they were selling games that infringed.

“It’s not black and white in a lot of cases,” Foster said.

Media outlets might not be able to tell from an ad whether the trader was selling genuine or pirated goods, he said.

Sony’s anti-piracy team worked to help the media identify which advertisements might be for pirated or infringing software or services, he said. The current legal precedent, set by the Stevens case, had ruled it was illegal to sell mod chips in Australia, Foster said.

The case was currently in appeal to the High Court, he said.