Publishers Fight to Keep Abandoned Games From Being Resurrected

Publishers Fight to Keep Abandoned Games From Being Resurrected

There’s a civil liberties war brewing between the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) — a non-profit organization that boasts the defense of civil liberties in the digital world — and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the group which represents most major video game publishers in the USA. The EFF is currently pursuing an exemption from the Digital Millennium Copyright Act which would allow players to revive abandoned online games, allowing players to legally modify the existing code of said online games that are no longer supported by publishers. Some of these titles, for example, would include games like SOCOM 4, Resistance: Fall of Man, and Star Wars: Battlefront. As it stands today, games with online functionality depend on servers to operate. Without that means of support, online games, such as Destiny, which even requires a connection to its server for its single-player experience, would be completely worthless. The EFF writes:

This exemption would server player communities that wish to continue using their purchased games, as well as archivists, historians, and other academic researchers who preserve and study videogames and are currently inhibited by legal uncertainty.

However, countering the EFF, the ESA argues that modifying game code is considering “hacking,” and would inspire piracy. Adding to the notion of the aforementioned “piracy” appellation, the jailbreaking of systems such as the Xbox 360 and/or Nintendo’s Wii would need to be performed in order to make some of the games work. The ESA states:

Granting the proposed exemption would enable — and indeed encourage — the play of pirated games and the unlawful reproduction and distribution of infringing content.

Whilst the EFF and the ESA make their arguments, however, the decision on this issue will ultimately fall to the US Copyright Office, which examines exemption requests every three years. The EFF has responded to the ESA’s arguments against its proposed exemption, noting that the gaming industry was built on “tinkering” and hobbyist-style hacking.

Games abandoned by their producers are one area where Section 1201 is seriously interfering with important, lawful activities — like continuing to play the games you already own, wrote the EFF.

[Source] PC World