by James Brightman
Watch out Spain...the eyes of Bill Gates have undoubtedly shifted in your direction...
According to The Register, console gamers in Spain can now mod their systems legally. A games retailer in Barcelona -- Innovagames -- was charged by the Guardia Civil with offering customers "alteration of PlayStation 2 and Xbox games consoles to allow them to read games from other parts of the world or downloaded directly from the Internet... by carrying out modification of their components as per diagrams found on the premises."
Despite the fact that the Spanish judge noted that these mods "might constitute a crime against the intellectual property of the equipment manufacturers," he discovered a legal loophole that essentially forced him to reject the case, thereby making the console mods legal.
The loophole, contained in article 270 of the penal code, references "the manufacture, distribution or possession of means to crack computer programme security codes."
Mod chips and piracy have been a problem for all three console hardware makers. In particular, it seems that mod chips have become quite common on Microsoft's Xbox platform, and MS has said that they are making efforts to ensure that such modifications to their next Xbox console will be far more difficult.
It will be interesting to see what actions Microsoft, Sony or Nintendo might take upon hearing the outcome of the judge's ruling.