Late last year, the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed a petition with the U.S. Copyright Office seeking specific exemptions to the DMCA essentially on account of absurdity (because it’s the future and even your car is a computer that needs to be tinkered with). One of the group’s requests involved “one for users who want to continue to play ‘abandoned’ video games.” That exemption, along with others, has now officially been granted by the Library of Congress, meaning that as of yesterday it’s OK to bust through a dead game’s DRM to make it work again.
Don’t get too excited, though; the exemption still doesn’t cover MMORPGs.
The Librarian granted part of EFF’s new proposal for an exemption to preserve abandoned video games. The new exemption allows players to modify their copy of a game to eliminate the need for an authentication server after the original server is shut down. Museums, libraries, and archives can go a step further and jailbreak game consoles as needed to get the games working again. Disappointingly, the Librarian limited the exemption to games that can’t be played at all after a server shutdown, excluding games where only the online multiplayer features are lost. Still, this exemption will help keep many classic and beloved video games playable by future generations.
Two steps forward, one back.