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The Entertainment Software Association, an industry group that represents the interests of video game developers & publishers, has argued against a request by the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment to loosen DMCA restrictions on abandoned online games as reported by TorrentFreak.

The DMCA has a number of provisions that restrict people from circumventing copy protection technology. However, these are reviewed every three years by the U.S. Copyright Office after they hear arguments from the public on just how tough these restrictions ought to be. Exemptions are currently in place for games that have been effectively abandoned by their publishers/developers, and The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment is arguing for a further loosening of these restrictions for games with online multiplayer features. In its comment to the U.S. Copyright Office, MADE states that over half of gamers play a game with multiplayer functionality for six hours a week and the inability to circumvent copy protection to preserve older games means that we run the risk of losing a big chunk of gaming history.

The ESA has another view on the matter in their response to the request by MADE [PDF]. They argue that allowing for the restoration or reverse-engineering of existing multiplayer services to make abandoned multiplayer games functional is an adverse risk for publishers & developers, noting that the game makers of the world have a “strong economic incentive” to preserve their own games – even those with online play. Their concerns are further exacerbated by the request to allow MADE to enlist members of the public to help with archival efforts.

The U.S. Copyright Office will take all comments under consideration before making their decision on the rules change.

What do you think of allowing a DMCA exemption for the preservation of abandoned online games? What are some games you liked that no longer have a functioning multiplayer? Let us know in the comments below!

Robert N. Adams

Senior Writer

I've had a controller in my hand since I was 4 and I haven't stopped gaming since. CCGs, Tabletop Games, Pen & Paper RPGs - I've tried a whole bunch of stuff over the years and I'm always looking to try more!