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Single player games with dead DRM servers ruled DMCA exempt

Earlier this year, a Harvard Law School student launched a petition to the US Copyright Office to allow for abandoned online games to become exempt to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. This would mean that games abandoned by publishers with dead DRM servers could legally be cracked and played again. The EFF was trying to make it legal for owners of non-MMO titles to circumvent DRM in order to keep playing the games they own and this week, they succeeded.

Now thanks to the US Copyright Office’s ruling this week, games that have a single-player component that requires online authentication to access can be modified or copied if the publisher has formally shut down the servers for longer than six months.

Image Source: updownright.com

Unfortunately, this ruling only covers single-player components. It is still technically not legal for users to modify or copy multiplayer content, even after publishers abandon the servers. This is something that the EFF was fighting for but couldn’t quite achieve.

The new ruling also keeps console modification illegal for those wanting to circumvent defunct DRM practises tied to the hardware itself. However, if a museum or publicly accessible, non-commercial institution wanted to modify old console hardware in order to make a game playable for demonstration purposes, they are free to do so. Those of you who are interested can find the full ruling, HERE. Obviously different parts of the world will have different laws when it comes to copyright protection and game preservation, this ruling covers the US.

Discuss on our Facebook page, HERE.

KitGuru Says: The EFF was mostly successfully in its efforts, which does make this a win for those wanting to preserve video games or consoles for future generations to look back on. 

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  • Dev

    That’s quite an unexpected turn of events. I suppose this will result in either a big resurgence in titles that had their moment and didn’t last, through third party sites, or it means the publishers will get their fingers out of their bums and start supporting some of their property.

  • Garret Daniel Giordano

    I agree, it is a much needed win for the consumer. This industry has gotten away with murder(litteraly) for too long.

  • Dev

    Literally? Who have they murdered in the process of preventing us from playing old games?

  • Garret Daniel Giordano

    The MMO charicters that are not usable.

  • MadDoggyca

    well HellGate London jsut got revived then and ever single Games for Windows Live that required live to authenticate

  • Gary Jones

    I think you need to reconsider the use of the word literally, unless you are saying that the industry has murdered people, and you can prove it.

  • Gary Jones

    Then not murder as you cannot class a fictional avatar as a person.

  • ChasDerpton


  • Dev

    Oh I see. Bit melodramatic perhaps, but sure, I wouldn’t be happy if I sank hours into something only for there to be no sign of it any more.

  • Garret Daniel Giordano

    I guess it’s dramatic. Just look at the city of heroes community. We all feel like something was taken from us. People put little pieces of themselves into those charicters.

  • Unfortunately Literally no longer means literally thanks to the youth. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/literally

    “in effect; in substance; very nearly; virtually:
    I literally died when she walked out on stage in that costume.”

    It is a sad world people.

  • Luis Jesus

    It’s a step in the right direction, sure, but it should go even further. It should be mandatory practice for publishers to remove any DRM from games they stop officially supporting, both for single player content and Multiplayer, since from that point, the MP component would only run on privately hosted servers, with absolutely no intervention from the publisher. Users pay for the full content, so if the publisher no longer wants to support it, users have the right to continue accessing ALL of it anyway, not just half… Steam, for example, has announced several times already that, if for some reason, the service shuts down, they will remove any steam based DRM from their catalogue so that people can still play their games through backups…

  • Dooshe Nozzle

    Here’s the thing… if the game was worth cracking in the first place, it would have been done already. If the publisher gave a single shit about the game enough to chase down cracks, they wouldn’t have shut down the servers. Making it legal is really just a formality.

  • garry brown

    1984.. good is bad, truth is a lie, oppressors are the opressed

  • astrosteve

    That’s not new. They were redefining literally to have a not-literal component a century ago.

  • astrosteve

    The Games for windows Live servers are still running, though. Anything that needs GFWL still works.

  • Liroku

    At the very least they should cease shutting down servers that have built their own server software. Nothing was stolen from anyone, but it’s illegal for them to run, advertise, or profit from a privately hosted server, even though it’s simply communicating with a client they, allegedly, paid for. If an MMO shuts down, private servers should be free game.

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  • Freeman4096

    Reasonable. Singleplayer is a product. Multiplayer is a service. No one can expect life-long service for anything. Depending on specific game and genre, fair lenght of service would be somewhere around 5 years, but never less than 3 years. Games with microtransactions should run for longer as they need to make their premium content worth it. Once they realise they don’t want to support the game anymore, they should stop selling in-game items but run servers for additional time. Same 3 years from that moment seems most straight and fair, imo.

  • It was added to the dictionary in 2013, so literally it just happened. 😉

    Oh what fun the English language is!

  • nerys

    he never said murder people.

  • Fascinating!

  • Jürgen Erhard

    Link? Because I’d like to find out the context of this “formally”.

  • They really, REALLY are not.