The EFF wants to exempt some emulated game servers from copyright laws

    
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How many times have you dusted off an old game you used to love to play online, only to find that the official servers have long since been shut down? It’s an unfortunate fact that unprofitable online games frequently get the axe, often leaving it to the games’ communities to try to put together an unofficial server. Dozens of early multiplayer games now have emulated servers and even player-made patches, all in an effort to keep the games we love alive, but technically those servers are breaking copyright law.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation announced this week that it’s pushing for changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that would make it legal for players to run their own emulated servers in cases of a game’s abandonment by developers. The proposal would also make it legal to eliminate any server-based DRM in lawfully acquired copies of a game in cases where the DRM server has been shut down.

Before you run out to find an emulated Star Wars: Galaxies or World of Warcraft vanilla server, note that the proposed law revision specifically excludes massively multiplayer games with persistent online worlds. The change would cover only games with singleplayer or multiplayer gameplay that’s no longer available due to server abandonment. With the ever-increasing number of MOBAs and games with always-online requirements, this change in the DMCA could become essential to preserving the games we love for future generations.

[Source: Electronic Frontier Foundation]
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Rynwin
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Rynwin

tominva2012 Well, Nate Downes is negotiating with NCSoft to buy CoH’s IP and the I23 server state to run in maintenance mode, so we might at least get that one back – if the Nexon thing doesn’t ruin everything that is.

Project54
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Project54

Estranged Project54

Difference of opinion, I guess I have more of a socialist attitude, I see it as a shame that the work of developers is lost when a game  shuts down, so think it’s great when people can bring it back to life. I also hate the concept of software as a license. If I buy a book, I have it forever, it’s only different with multiplayer games due to technical reasons and I would support any law which assisted people overcoming that.

greywolfe_joystiq
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greywolfe_joystiq

dirtyklingon 
see, that’s part of the problem.
it’s so badly worded that – say – big companies can ride in on it and do dumb things with it like activision tried with the battlefield [? – oh.  it was call of duty.  that’s how little i care about third/first person shooters.  i can’t even tell them apart :P] with their “don’t show glitches or exploits” ban.
on the [odd] occasion where it works properly, that’s great, but when it can impact a whole raft of people on youtube for no good reason then that’s terrible.  [although, youtube has it’s own special sort of stupidity going on where contentid matches favour big companies.]
what needs to happen is that the dmca needs to be scrapped or reworked so it can more accurately reflect current modernity.  until then?  it’s just a relic of a bygone era.

BriarGrey
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BriarGrey

Here’s hoping the EFF can get all their good stuff passed eventually — they’re important and more legislators should be listening, imo.

TonyVz
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TonyVz

Why in the world would they specifically exclude MMOs? The way I see it, I purchased a game client to play, for example, City of Heroes, and I cannot use that software today without modifying it and/or creating a server emulator to allow me to play.  How is this any different from any other genre of game such that it falls into a different category?

Hopefully if this goes through, it will be a stepping stone, because I think it’s a travesty what has been going on in the MMO industry, with games shutting down and the collective effort of millions of man-hours of time and effort, and millions of dollars sunk into these games, being destroyed with the flip of a switch.  Ideally, game companies would come up with a solution on their own, as I honestly believe this has been a HUGE contributor to the degradation of the MMORPG marketplace.  But barring them doing something about it, I certainly think it should be the right of the player community to restore access to people’s software if possible.

KiwiRed
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KiwiRed

dirtyklingon Another consideration and argument against developers opening up their software is enabling botters and hackers who may gain insights from being able to directly examine server code.

ChristopherPierce
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ChristopherPierce

rottenrotny SWGemu is very playable nowadays.

hults2
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hults2

This is a cause near and dear to my heart as a refugee of Paragon City. There really needs to be a recognition that end users put time, effort, and money into these games, and that that should construe some form of ownership or responsibility over the game. When it comes to dead tree media and analogue media, that doesn’t simply dispensary when it goes out of print. My copy of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy doesn’t cease to open just because the publisher is not currently printing new copies of it. Fair use alone should say that so long as it was publicly released code (which all game F2P clients are) that so long as no one is taking credit for it or turning a profit on it, it should continue to be able to be enjoyed the same way a book or physical album or movie is.

qweazdak
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qweazdak

I am glad that they are thinking about the future. With the popular server based DRM becoming the norm for publishers to use, something like this had to happen. Maybe MMO’s have been excluded because they are harder to maintain a server and would require lots of money for upkeep which is a grey area?

rottenrotny
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rottenrotny

I currently play on the emulated WoW realms and have a great time on there.

IMO if Blizz isn’t going to release their own Vanilla, TBC etc servers they should let these “blizz-like” servers exist without hassling them
The Vanilla server is always high pop and has a healthy playerbase. It’s clear these’s still a lot of interest in playing old school WoW.

I expect the same is true for SWGemu, which I have’t tried in years. Last I looked it was barely playable.