Several organizations and gaming fans are asking the Copyright Office to make a DMCA circumvention exemption for abandoned online games, to preserve them for future generations. The exemption would allow museums and libraries to offer copies of abandoned online servers, so these games won’t turn to dust.
The U.S. Copyright Office is considering whether or not to update the DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions, which prevent the public from tinkering with DRM-protected content and devices.
These provisions are renewed every three years. To allow individuals and organizations to chime in, the Office traditionally launches a public consultation, before it makes any decisions.
This week a series of new responses were received and many of these focused on abandoned games. As is true for most software, games have a limited lifespan, so after a few years they are no longer supported by manufacturers.
To preserve these games for future generations and nostalgic gamers, the Copyright Office previously included game preservation exemptions. This means that libraries, archives and museums can use emulators and other circumvention tools to make old classics playable.
However, these exemptions are limited and do not apply to games that require a connection to an online server, which includes most recent games. When the online servers are taken down, the game simply disappears forever.