EFF Petitions Congress For User Rights To Bring Back Abandoned Video Games

Woe is the gamer who suddenly can't play a particular title because a developer or publisher pulled the plug on an authentication server without releasing a patch to remove the requirement of checking in with the defunct mothership. About the only thing you can do at that point is pound sand or brave the shady side of the web for an illegal crack and hope it doesn't barf malware all over your system. Luckily, the good folks at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) have your back and have filed a petition with the Library of Congress and the U.S. Copyright Office to make modifying abandoned games considered fair use.

The EFF's carefully worded petition exempts games like World of Warcraft and Wildstar, should they ever go offline, due to the majority of content being stored on the developer's servers and not in the client. The legal waters get a little more muddy when venturing into scenarios where persistent worlds aren't hosted on the client. Rather than try and wade in those waters, the EFF is trying to make it legal for gamers to alter code of abandoned games that require checks to an authentication software in order to enable core functionality.

Image Source: Flickr (Rob DiCaterino)

There are different use-case scenarios where an exemption comes into play, including the preservation and study of games by archivists, historians, and other academic researchers. Including those scenarios help strengthen the EFF's argument, though in reality, it's gamers that stand to benefit the most.

"For example, Electronic Arts regularly shuts down servers for games approximately a year and a half to two years after their release," the EFF points out in its petition.

One counterargument to the EFF's request is that an exemption to the rules could have an adverse effect on a game's value. However, the EFF argues that opposite is true since the games are considered abandoned. Going a step further, the EFF says an exemption could "increase the value to forward-looking consumers who value the long-term playability of a game."
Tags:  Video Games, games, EFF, DMCA