The EFF and the Entertainment Software Alliance are currently battling it out over the need to preserve past games that have since been abandoned by their publishers or developers. The EFF wants an exemption to the DMCA to keep older titles alive once its servers are shut down but the ESA, MPAA and RIAA are all opposed to the idea.
In this day and age, most video games all feature some form of online component and some titles will actually stop working once the servers are switched off by a publisher. While it makes sense for a publisher to stop paying for servers when a game has outlived its shelf-life, the EFF wants people to be able to preserve titles after publishers and developers have stopped bothering with them.
Now the EFF is seeking help to find legal protections from copyright enforcers for those who modify software code to keep games alive and playable following their abandonment from Publishers. EFF attorney, Mitch Stoltz has explained the current situation that the EFF faces:
“Section 1201 is often used by the entertainment industries not to prevent copyright infringement but to control markets and lock out competition. So it’s not surprising that ESA (the trade association for the largest game producers), along with MPAA and RIAA, have written to the Copyright Office to oppose this exemption”.
“They say that modifying games to connect to a new server (or to avoid contacting a server at all) after publisher support ends—letting people continue to play the games they paid for—will destroy the video game industry. They say it would ‘undermine the fundamental copyright principles on which our copyright laws are based’.”
You read that right, the ESA thinks that letting people play the games they paid for following publisher abandonment will somehow “destroy the video game industry”.
In its submission to the US Copyright Office, the EFF has listed several server shutdowns that took place during 2014 alone, leaving some titles unplayable. Many of these are the result of the Gamespy shut down. The EFF hopes that an exemption to the current DMCA copyright law will allow the community to legally preserve these now dead games.
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KitGuru Says: We already know that many copyright laws are antiquated at this point and often don’t make any sense. Not allowing communities to preserve games after they are shut down by publishers doesn’t really make any sense, after all, people did in-fact pay for these games at some point and should probably have the opportunity to continue enjoying them.