EFF's DMCA Exemption to Protect Modifying Old Online Games - Update 2

EFF's DMCA Exemption to Protect Modifying Old Online Games - Update 2

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The Electronic Frontier Foundation has filed exemptions to the DMCA to address noninfringing uses of circumventing DRM.

Update 2: Kendra Albert, the former legal intern at the Electronic Frontier Foundation who researched multiplayer and gaming authentication servers during her internship, sees the exemption as one that benefits everyone: companies that may no longer be able to run the servers for old games can see people still playing their games, and the people playing the games can do so without fear of the DMCA. Albert, who has been playing video games since she was a teenager, noted some of the early DMCA section 1201 case law comes from video games. In February 2002, Blizzard filed a DMCA safe harbor takedown against BnetD, a reverse-engineered software package. BnetD allowed users to play games on their own servers. The court ruled in favor of Blizzard, stating BnetD was in violation of anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA.

In this case, Albert said, "DMCA 1201 stands in the way of the very kind of long-term player investments we should be most interested in encouraging, and we felt that there's a strong case to be made that modifying these games is fair use."

Albert also noted that the DMCA has a chilling effect on scholarship and archiving of games as librarians and archivists do not want to face being sued for trying to preserve a game with abandoned servers.

Update: Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Mitch Stoltz told The Escapist the EFF's inspiration for filling the six exemption requests was an examination of creative communities inhibited by the section of the DMCA that addresses circumvention. Stoltz is confident that the exemption request allowing changes to game software to allow third-party servers in abandoned games will be successful because it "meets all criteria" the Librarian of Congress needs for an exemption to the DMCA.

Original story: The Electronic Frontier Foundation filed six exemption requests to the U.S. Copyright Office for modifications to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The EFF argues the DMCA has made lawful activities become copyright infringement. One of these exemption requests addresses online games that developers have shut down.

Under the DMCA, modifying an old online game to make it playable after an authentication server has been shut down qualifies as copyright infringement. In order to keep playing a game that a developer has abandoned, players eliminate checks to authentication servers or modify access controls in the software for switching to third-party servers. The EFF's exemption request would make it legal to modify these games for the purposes of "continued play, preservation, research, or study." The EFF argues these uses constitute "fair use."

"Persistent world" games like MMOs are not included in this petition for exemption.

The other exemption requests address DRM for software in all kinds of devices, such as cars, coffee makers, and alarm clocks, where the DMCA makes tinkering, repairing, and reusing objects illegal. The EFF also would like the Copyright Office to renew previous exemptions for jailbreaking smartphones, extending those exemptions to tablets and other mobile devices.

"These requests highlight some of the ways Section 1201 of the DMCA has given the Librarian of Congress a veto on innovation and creativity," EFF staff attorney Mitch Stoltz said in a statement.

Section 1201 of the DMCA is known as the anti-circumvention provisions. This is meant, but has failed, to stop online piracy. However, circumventing DRM locks for noninfringing uses can result in lawsuits. Once every three years, the U.S. Copyright Office convenes to review proposed exemptions to the DMCA's ban on circumvention.

The EFF calls this exemption process "hugely flawed." Even when exemptions are passed for non-infringing uses of copyrighted material, those exemptions must be renewed or expanded as technology continues to develop.

"Technologists and artists should not have to get permission from Washington before they create, learn, and innovate, especially when the window to seek permission only comes once every three years," EFF staff attorney Kit Walsh said. "This rulemaking isn't the 'safety valve' we need to defend free speech and innovation from Section 1201. But until the law is fixed, we'll do our part to fight for those rights before the Copyright Office and in the courts."

Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation via Gamasutra

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This is a good cause. Honestly, I am surprised I am just now hearing the noise they're making about it.

If they succeed, just imagine what that could mean for the future! Twenty odd years from now we'll potentially have thousands (maybe more) of open source vintage games!

I know MMO's weren't included, but I don't see why they couldn't be. If WoW permanently shuts down in 20-30 years, wouldn't it be a special sight to see legal private servers up and running even after Blizzard has turned off the lights? Who wants to progression raid through TBC (patch 2.x) content again with me when we're in our 50's/60's? XD

so what does this cover then ? dedicated servers for old shooters and the like ?

Sleekit:
so what does this cover then ? dedicated servers for old shooters and the like ?

I believe thats part of the case, the update mentions it so I think you're correct. Hope this works out, I'd love to see some now defunct multiplayer games have a revival of sorts and potential hope for future retired games to get private servers.

Sleekit:
so what does this cover then ? dedicated servers for old shooters and the like ?

Well let's look back. Earlier this year EA shut down *alot* of game servers for older games (one being the Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2.) Now you can give EA the finger. and crank out your own Red Alert 2 server.

BigTuk:

Sleekit:
so what does this cover then ? dedicated servers for old shooters and the like ?

Well let's look back. Earlier this year EA shut down *alot* of game servers for older games (one being the Neverwinter Nights 1 and 2.) Now you can give EA the finger. and crank out your own Red Alert 2 server.

Or just play on the servers that the C&C community has been running for C&C1, Red Alert 1, Tiberian Sun, Red Alert 2 and Renegade for years now not only with EA's blessing but their assistance in setting up.....

Their not perfect but EA isn't always the bad guys.

Fappy:
This is a good cause. Honestly, I am surprised I am just now hearing the noise they're making about it.

Thats sort of EFFs style. they go around silently fighting for consumers everywhere and when you hear about it eventually you go "why havent i heard about it sooner".

Its almost as if they actually care about consumers more than being famous.

Strazdas:

Fappy:
This is a good cause. Honestly, I am surprised I am just now hearing the noise they're making about it.

Thats sort of EFFs style. they go around silently fighting for consumers everywhere and when you hear about it eventually you go "why havent i heard about it sooner".

Its almost as if they actually care about consumers more than being famous.

Groups like this I can respect. They don't want attention, they just want change and they seem to do it the right way. I've noticed lately that the things you hear most about sometimes turn out to be things you actually didn't want to happen in the end. *shrug* weird how that works, eh?

Time to stomp this DMCA BS. There must be no legal limits on creativity.

Fappy:

I know MMO's weren't included, but I don't see why they couldn't be.

I imagine it's largely to prevent opposition from that same giant you just mentioned.

I'm not saying it's right, just that it is what it is. Corporations can be super petty.

Strazdas:

Thats sort of EFFs style.

Well, except when they make press releases (some of which have been reported here), comment on social media, push for donations....You know, basically the exact same stuff the people who care about attention do.

Imperioratorex Caprae:
They don't want attention, they just want change and they seem to do it the right way.

Considering the things they say publicly through both traditional and social media, I sort of wonder what the "right way" is.

I mean, I get that people aren't tuned in to them, but I'm not sure that's particularly because they're doing something different than other folks. I wonder, for example, if they were to do the exact same things but for the promotion of say, women in electronic media....

I have a feeling a ton of the people on the web who don't pay attention to them would suddenly be policing them and making a big deal out of them. Especially since they promote a lot more than a certain "Literally Who...."

I wish they would include MMOs in this. An abandoned game is abandoned and reverse engineering it to allow players to continue playing it on 3rd party servers harms absolutely no one and keeps the game alive for those who wish to continue enjoying it.I would still be subbed to CoH right now if not for NCSoft and I'd gladly use a 3rd party server if I could. While there may or may not be sneaky things happening on the game which might or might not give me hope of running around Cap au Diable again one day (and City of Titans is in development), I'd love it to be allowed to come above board.

To be honest, my real preference would be for ncsoft, our any publisher of an abandoned game to release the source code. I appreciate that it "used" to be a commercial product, but on abandonment is clearly no longer the case. Releasing the source code would allow fans to keep it alive themselves and shoute afford a publisher immense good will for their generosity and gift to their fans. Keeping it hidden just makes determined fans have to work harder, from the shadows and benefits no one.

Zachary Amaranth:

Strazdas:

Thats sort of EFFs style.

Well, except when they make press releases (some of which have been reported here), comment on social media, push for donations....You know, basically the exact same stuff the people who care about attention do.

and you completely missed the point.

Yes, they let people, often their members (because you know you can support them quite easily) know what they are doing and what they think of popular topics. this is not the same as going around seeking attention. informing people what is done is a good thing. for most part in order to know what they are doing you have to follow them, obviuos excemption is news articles like that. meanwhile say RIAA goes around shiting at people and trying to get into press as much as they can but dont actually go around doing all that much.

KingsGambit:
I wish they would include MMOs in this. An abandoned game is abandoned and reverse engineering it to allow players to continue playing it on 3rd party servers harms absolutely no one and keeps the game alive for those who wish to continue enjoying it.

If the game is abandonware (as in fits the legal definition of abandonware) it is legal to go as far as copy the code that is there to run the server. its quite hard to fit that definition though, and if it does there isnt anyone that could sue you either way to begin with.

MMOs i found for the most part have circumvented this by having their 3rd party servers built from grounds up, copying the games mechanics and using thier clients, but not reverse engineering the server code, thus making them legally secure. Cipsoft has tried to challenge those and the European Court (Cipsoft is based in Germany) has decided that those servers are legal and the only illegal thing there is using Cipsoft client for connecting to them, so technically it was the players that did anything illegal there and you cant reasonable expect to go after all the players for illegal use of the client.

Strazdas:

and you completely missed the point.

Or you missed mine.

They conduct themselves in the same way as the people accused of being attention seekers by fine folks such as yourself. I'm not even sure you understand who and what the RIAA are, now, since you're trying to parallel them to the EFF.

Zachary Amaranth:

Strazdas:

and you completely missed the point.

Or you missed mine.

They conduct themselves in the same way as the people accused of being attention seekers by fine folks such as yourself. I'm not even sure you understand who and what the RIAA are, now, since you're trying to parallel them to the EFF.

Both are organizations advocating for certain law changes and have a group of people they are trying to protect. So yeah, your doubts about my knowledge was unfounded.

Also they did not conduct themselves in same manner in the matter reported here, so your claim is also unfounded.

 

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