Sony obtains Australia ban on PS3 hack chip

Image caption Gamers have given a mixed response to the reports

Sony has won a temporary ban to prevent Australian distributors selling a hardware hack for the PlayStation 3 (PS3).

The PS3Jailbreak "dongle" allows gamers to play homemade and pirated games on the game's console.

The ban prevents OzModChips, Mod Supplier and Quantronics from importing, distributing or selling the device.

Sony has until August 31 to makes its case to the court for a permanent ban.

If it fails, the chips could go on sale on 1 September.

The firm declined to comment on the proceedings. The Australian distributors could not be reached.

The court order also gives Sony control of all of the dongles in the firms' possession and allows the electronics giant to test the devices - including "destructive analysis" - to see how they work.

Homebrew games

PS3Jailbreak is a dongle containing software that allows users to save games to the console's hard drive.

It is the first product to crack the security on the PS3.

It was met with scepticism when videos of the device - posted by OzModChips - first appeared online in early August.

At the time, a spokesperson for Console Pro, another distributor based in the Netherlands, told BBC News the "dongle converts a retail unit into a dev unit".

Dev units are used by developers to test code for the machine.

"Dev mode means it will run any - even unsigned - code," said the spokesperson. "Using a simple backup maker or player software, you can play backed-up [saved] games without the actual disc being in the PS3."

The legality of these products - commonly called modchips - differs by country.

In Australia they are legal, whilst in the UK a recent court case brought by Nintendo said that "game copiers" were illegal to import, advertise or sell.

Proponents of modchips say they are the only way to play homemade games, known as "homebrews".

It is not known whether distributors in other countries have been served similar notices.

But, a spokesperson for Console Pro told BBC News in the wake of Friday's ban that the firm had "not heard anything from Sony or any lawyer or court yet".

"I really doubt Sony has grounds to ban this dongle."

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