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]