Video Game Publishers want to Stop Museums and Collectors from Making Defunct Games Playable Again
When you buy something, you’d like to keep it as long as it’s useful to you. With videogames, however, you get to keep them only as long as the manufacturer lets you.
Game manufacturers often cut off server access for games they no longer want to support. Game enthusiasts sometimes put up their own servers, or modify games so that don’t need servers, to continue playing, but game companies have fought this, comparing it to piracy.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), with law student Kendra Albert, is asking the U.S. Copyright Office for an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act’s anti-circumvention provisions to enable enthusiasts and collectors to continue playing abandoned games.
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is fighting the request. “[A] prohibition on the hacking of technological protection measures controlling access to protected works (even if the hacking does not result in any copyright infringement) [is] necessary in order to encourage innovation in the online distribution of copyrighted works,” ESA Senior Vice-President and General Counsel Christian Genetski told a Congressional hearing last year. In other words, if people can play old games, they won’t buy new games.
Also stuck in legal limbo by server shutdowns are groups such as the Internet Archive, museums like Oakland, California’s Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment, and researchers who study video games as a cultural and historical medium, according to EFF.
The request covers games where single-player or multiplayer play is no longer possible because the game’s servers have been shut down or abandoned.
To Learn More:
Videogame Publishers: No Preserving Abandoned Games, Even for Museums and Archives, Because All “Hacking” is Illegal (by Mitch Stoltz, Electronic Frontier Foundation)
EFF Seeks DMCA Exemption to Preserve Abandoned Games (by Andy, Torrent Freak)
An Exemption to the DMCA Would Let Game Fans Keep Abandoned Games Running (by Kendra Albert, Electronic Frontier Foundation)
In the Matter of Exemption to Prohibition on Circumvention of Copyright Protection Systems for Access Control Technologies (Electronic Frontier Foundation) (pdf)
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