U.S Copyright Office Considering Exemption for Abandoned Online Games

rgMekanic

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The U.S Copyright Office is currently considering whether to loosen DMCA's provisions for abandoned online games. Currently there are preservation exemptions to keep abandoned games accessible, however the current exemptions do not cover online games. TorrentFreak is reporting that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is opposing the request, stating that it would allow people to recreate online environments using server code that was never publicly released as well as possibly being used for profit.

How dare people want to play a game they paid for that EA or Ubisoft says the can't anymore. Seriously, I hope the Copyright Office realized that preservation of all media is important, be it online or otherwise.

Late last year several gaming fans including the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (the MADE), a nonprofit organization operating in California, argued for an expansion of this exemption to also cover online games. This includes games in the widely popular multiplayer genre, which require a connection to an online server.

“Although the Current Exemption does not cover it, preservation of online video games is now critical,” MADE wrote in its comment to the Copyright Office. Online games have become ubiquitous and are only growing in popularity. For example, an estimated fifty-three percent of gamers play multiplayer games at least once a week, and spend, on average, six hours a week playing with others online.”
 

MrGuvernment

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If they are so worried about others making a profit on their IP, then why don't they market it? Another example of why we need a use it or lose it clause in copyright law.

bingo, look at games with massive 3rd party communities, valve for example, Team Fortress 2, CS all those and how well they do, think back to UT and Quake when people could run servers and do their own mods, those games created the market as it is today with so many loyal followers.
 

tetris42

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If they are so worried about others making a profit on their IP, then why don't they market it? Another example of why we need a use it or lose it clause in copyright law.
Except they're not even talking about those making a profit. They're worried about non-profit organizations that happen to host their abandoned game making ANY money to keep the lights on.
 

triwolf

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If they are so worried about others making a profit on their IP, then why don't they market it? Another example of why we need a use it or lose it clause in copyright law.
I agree. Also their goal is to get you to buy a new game instead of playing an old one. They break games in Windows, then you have to find workarounds or get an older PC to play it. They always claim progress is needed, although some older games are more fun and better designed than newer ones. They can't stop me from playing stuff on an older Windows PC that never sees the internet so it doesn't get hacked.

I support anyone who wants to run older games they paid for, online or not.
 

jedijeb13

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This would really free up those who are trying to bring back Star Wars Galaxies. Currently the EMU(emulator) has a GPL license and are allowed to write unique code for a server that will work with the original client, but they can not use any original code for that server. It is also relegated to the oldest version. If this were to become law, then they could bring back all the old classics. I think it should apply to the OS also, so that a copy of DOS could be sold for anyone wanting to revive and old rig to play some classic DOS games and do it legally. As above, once you stop supporting it you lose the rights to it. Same could work for music too, if you don't publish it in a format you can listen to currently for a period of 5 years, then it becomes open source. And it should go with the original artist, song writer, once they pass away, noone owns the work anymore. Seriously, you can be sued for printing and selling the song Happy Birthday, because someone has kept buying the rights to it over time.
 

DocNo

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Thanks again to Disney for killing copyright and twisting it into the abortion of todays twisted laws. I love stuff like this hopefully more of it will happen in pushing back some of this crap to more reasonable regs.
 

Spaceninja

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I would love to play City of Heroes again, however I don't think enough data was recovered to recreate the server side of things. There have been a few other games that I use to play that did manage to rebuild the original servers. Sadly it took so long that the games weren't really fun anymore and the community was gone.
 

rgMekanic

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I would love to play City of Heroes again, however I don't think enough data was recovered to recreate the server side of things. There have been a few other games that I use to play that did manage to rebuild the original servers. Sadly it took so long that the games weren't really fun anymore and the community was gone.

Pre-Arena update when we used farm Hammidon every night and had a ball :)
 

Armenius

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Reminder to everyone that the ESA is an industry advocate, not consumer. Sometimes their causes align with consumers, but they're ultimately preserving the business model. At least they believe they are.
 

Seelenlos

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Seriously, you can be sued for printing and selling the song Happy Birthday, because someone has kept buying the rights to it over time.

They actually resolved that a couple years ago. It is now public domain. From what I read about the song Warner never had a valid claim, just the power to force a claim.
Your point is valid.
 

lcpiper

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If you abandon something, to me, it's up for grabs.

If a company was so worried about the online presence for something they shouldn't give it up.


Not sure I agree. An online game, if it's subscription based, is essentially a service and in effect it is a unique service as far as games do differ from one another to varying extents. Just because they no longer wish to offer that service, I'm not so sure it constitutes abandonment in that others can just pick it up and run with it without getting an OK from the IP holder.

Warhammer Online was an online MMO type and a few years ago they shut down the game. An organization got permission from the IP holder and is operating an online game servers keeping the game alive, but it's free to play. In many cases, particularly in games that were subscription based, I think this is how you should have to do it and I am not sure that labeling someone's product/service as "abandoned" and stripping a right's holder of their IP is proper or fair.
 

MavericK

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I would rather see end users be able to create their own servers for abandoned online games, rather than just have them become useless to everyone.
 

lcpiper

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I would rather see end users be able to create their own servers for abandoned online games, rather than just have them become useless to everyone.

Well, as it stands, they aren't ours to give or take away. Of course that is what this is about and I am not so sure that we have a right to do it.

A company pays it's employees to create a game. Those employees went to school or had the talent and either way, they earned their place as artistic developers. The companies involved hired them and paid them to develop this IP and it is without any doubt their property. I think you are going to have to come up with a very compelling argument to do this.
 

MavericK

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Well, as it stands, they aren't ours to give or take away. Of course that is what this is about and I am not so sure that we have a right to do it.

A company pays it's employees to create a game. Those employees went to school or had the talent and either way, they earned their place as artistic developers. The companies involved hired them and paid them to develop this IP and it is without any doubt their property. I think you are going to have to come up with a very compelling argument to do this.

My argument would be that people paid for use of the program and now it is unusable. I would argue that maybe the law should be changed to allow for continued non-commercial use of an abandoned product. That is to say, no one else should be making profit off of the license, but existing licenses should be able to continue to be used.
 

Jeremy C

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I would love to play City of Heroes again, however I don't think enough data was recovered to recreate the server side of things. There have been a few other games that I use to play that did manage to rebuild the original servers. Sadly it took so long that the games weren't really fun anymore and the community was gone.

There's enough data. Just check out the people that still log into CoH regularly just to chat. Titan Network could effectively make the game live and close to original almost immediately as they run a decent chunk of it it already.

I still say I got the best loot in the game, though. The uber-epic Red(head) loot. :D She wouldn't mind playing the game again either, as we were a brutal duo and could own just about anything that the game could throw at us.
 

Spaceninja

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My argument would be that people paid for use of the program and now it is unusable. I would argue that maybe the law should be changed to allow for continued non-commercial use of an abandoned product. That is to say, no one else should be making profit off of the license, but existing licenses should be able to continue to be used.

I can see both sides of the argument.
You did pay for the product and you did pay the access fee. Purchasing the game, a one time account creation fee, then a monthly subscription, a 30 day access fee. It would be no different from joining a gym and it closing. You paid your fee, you got to work out however much you wanted, but now that gym closed, you lost all of your progress and you have to join a new gym as a weakling.

Do they have the right to close shop and no longer offer the service? Do we have the right to emulate the servers, not exactly. I think there should be a time limit where it is legal to do. Provided they didn't release MMO2 based off of MMO1.
 

lcpiper

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My argument would be that people paid for use of the program and now it is unusable. I would argue that maybe the law should be changed to allow for continued non-commercial use of an abandoned product. That is to say, no one else should be making profit off of the license, but existing licenses should be able to continue to be used.

The law does allow for it, if the IP holder agrees, just like Warhammer Online is available to play right now from a non-profit org.

Like I said, I'm on the fence with this one, if I were a Judge I'd still be in deliberation trying to make up my mind on it.
 

MavericK

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I can see both sides of the argument.
You did pay for the product and you did pay the access fee. Purchasing the game, a one time account creation fee, then a monthly subscription, a 30 day access fee. It would be no different from joining a gym and it closing. You paid your fee, you got to work out however much you wanted, but now that gym closed, you lost all of your progress and you have to join a new gym as a weakling.

Do they have the right to close shop and no longer offer the service? Do we have the right to emulate the servers, not exactly. I think there should be a time limit where it is legal to do. Provided they didn't release MMO2 based off of MMO1.

Yeah, that's fair. I guess I am thinking more of games that require online service but may not necessarily be an MMO, something you didn't have to pay a monthly subscription fee for. I do believe, as you said, that eventually a time limit should lapse where it is legal to create private servers (if able) and continue to use the product, if the company abandons it.
 

lcpiper

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Yeah, that's fair. I guess I am thinking more of games that require online service but may not necessarily be an MMO, something you didn't have to pay a monthly subscription fee for. I do believe, as you said, that eventually a time limit should lapse where it is legal to create private servers (if able) and continue to use the product, if the company abandons it.


I have a question then, what is different about the IP of an online game, and say an animated movie. Many times the artists who do one will turn around and be hired to do the other. There really isn't even a great difference in what they are doing. It's like the same product is simply displayed in a different medium. in fact, sometimes it actually is in the case of games that are made into movies or vice verse. Take the Riddick franchise, movies, animated film, and games. Are there Riddick comics too?

I suppose so;

richard_b__riddick_and_subject_zero_by_lovelymaiden-d4kibxf.jpg



So I'm just really not sure on this one. A lot of angles to look at. It's not like I'm not a gamer myself so I get it, I really do.
 

katanaD

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it seems to be these companies, if they still actually exist, are losing out on potential possible future sales. If a game has reached a point where it is not financially viable, it happens, turn the base over to the community if there is actual desire. Let them work on it and if it regains momentum, then that would be a good sign of a new version to market.
 

tetris42

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Not sure I agree. An online game, if it's subscription based, is essentially a service and in effect it is a unique service as far as games do differ from one another to varying extents. Just because they no longer wish to offer that service, I'm not so sure it constitutes abandonment in that others can just pick it up and run with it without getting an OK from the IP holder.

Warhammer Online was an online MMO type and a few years ago they shut down the game. An organization got permission from the IP holder and is operating an online game servers keeping the game alive, but it's free to play. In many cases, particularly in games that were subscription based, I think this is how you should have to do it and I am not sure that labeling someone's product/service as "abandoned" and stripping a right's holder of their IP is proper or fair.
You have a source where they got any permission whatsoever to keep it running? My understanding was they're using a server emulator and simply hosting it and EA doesn't really give a shit.

As for your other argument, you're not being sure if it's fair doesn't matter. No law, past, present, or proposed would strip the parent company of their IP rights. This exemption is only to allow people to legally ATTEMPT to run the game they paid for after the company shuts it down. The copyright holder wouldn't lose any rights at all. Under the law, there is no such thing as abandonware.
 

lcpiper

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It doesn't say one word about having permission. It says they're using a server emulator. EA could shut it down anytime they wanted to, again, EA generally just doesn't give a shit.


Just because they don't say they got permission doesn't mean they didn't get it. Seems like you are making a huge leap of faith.
 

Spaceninja

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It doesn't say one word about having permission. It says they're using a server emulator. EA could shut it down anytime they wanted to, again, EA generally just doesn't give a shit.

EA actually handed over server code, lore and story progression and even dev tools to the Net-7 folks who had reconstructed the server. EA gave their blessing on the project with the agreement that anything they charge goes to hardware/hosting and no profit is made. I see that as fair.

If a game requires an auth server, there should be a patch made that removes that component or emulates the server something of that nature. In the case of a matchmaking server for FPS games, then that should be allowed to run on a 3rd parties site, or a stripped down internet server application that is freely available. Just because you don't want to patch game X anymore, doesn't mean people shouldn't be able to play it.
 

tetris42

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Just because they don't say they got permission doesn't mean they didn't get it. Seems like you are making a huge leap of faith.
No, quite the opposite, I'm not assuming anything. Most server emulators don't get permission and help from the original developers, they're reverse engineered. Actually getting permission is rare, that's why I'm interested in this. You're saying they got permission. I'm asking what is this based off of?

EA actually handed over server code, lore and story progression and even dev tools to the Net-7 folks who had reconstructed the server. EA gave their blessing on the project with the agreement that anything they charge goes to hardware/hosting and no profit is made. I see that as fair.
What's your source on this? I'm not saying you're wrong, but I can't find any information on this anywhere. From their site:

"Since the announcement of the end of official servers on 18th of december 2013, some people decided to make their best to let this fabulous game alive. To do that, they took back an old emulator project named All Private Server, and continued the work on it.

At this time, Dyox was the main developper, and decided to make his own private server, and made is source code closed.
But after a few month, he realised that he doesn't have enough time and motivation to continue, closed his server and released his sources.

And here comes War-Emu !
While Dyox was working on his own, a little team kept working on the open source emu.
Then, the War-Emu team added Dyox's work on the emulator they were working on.

That's what Return of Reckoning is : a War-Emu private server."

You'd think if they had a blessing from EA, they would have mentioned that somewhere. Also competing emulator projects doesn't make it sound like the original server source code was turned over to them, especially when everything is still in alpha state.


Spaceninja said:
If a game requires an auth server, there should be a patch made that removes that component or emulates the server something of that nature. In the case of a matchmaking server for FPS games, then that should be allowed to run on a 3rd parties site, or a stripped down internet server application that is freely available. Just because you don't want to patch game X anymore, doesn't mean people shouldn't be able to play it.
Yeah, unfortunately more times than not, the reality is there's no support after the fact whatsoever and people are left with a bricked game. This exemption won't change any of that, it just won't make attempts at reverse engineering illegal.
 
D

Deleted member 278999

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The U.S Copyright Office is currently considering whether to loosen DMCA's provisions for abandoned online games. Currently there are preservation exemptions to keep abandoned games accessible, however the current exemptions do not cover online games. TorrentFreak is reporting that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) is opposing the request, stating that it would allow people to recreate online environments using server code that was never publicly released as well as possibly being used for profit.

How dare people want to play a game they paid for that EA or Ubisoft says the can't anymore. Seriously, I hope the Copyright Office realized that preservation of all media is important, be it online or otherwise.

Late last year several gaming fans including the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (the MADE), a nonprofit organization operating in California, argued for an expansion of this exemption to also cover online games. This includes games in the widely popular multiplayer genre, which require a connection to an online server.

“Although the Current Exemption does not cover it, preservation of online video games is now critical,” MADE wrote in its comment to the Copyright Office. Online games have become ubiquitous and are only growing in popularity. For example, an estimated fifty-three percent of gamers play multiplayer games at least once a week, and spend, on average, six hours a week playing with others online.”

SWEET CHRISTMAS

Come oooon MCO (Motor City Online)!
 

Spaceninja

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What's your source on this? I'm not saying you're wrong, but I can't find any information on this anywhere. From their site:

"Since the announcement of the end of official servers on 18th of december 2013, some people decided to make their best to let this fabulous game alive. To do that, they took back an old emulator project named All Private Server, and continued the work on it.

I was talking about Earth and Beyond, which is/was also an EA property. Westwood had just launched it before they were purchased by EA, left it on for a few years and shut it down. E&B was turned off in 2004.
 

lcpiper

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No, quite the opposite, I'm not assuming anything. Most server emulators don't get permission and help from the original developers, they're reverse engineered. Actually getting permission is rare, that's why I'm interested in this. You're saying they got permission. I'm asking what is this based off of?.....................

Wait, you either know they didn't, or you don't. If you claim they didn't because "most don't", then this is an assumption.

I couldn't get to the site now because I am at work, but others it seems have better information. If you don't believe their information than you are free to challenge them about it.
 

tetris42

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Wait, you either know they didn't, or you don't. If you claim they didn't because "most don't", then this is an assumption.
Okay, you're right, I misspoke. I'm assuming they did NOT get permission because the vast majority of games shut down this way don't get permission or help from the developers to make server emulators, many don't even get server emulators. That doesn't make it a "leap of faith", that makes it the exact opposite, playing the odds. Darkspore, The Sims Online, Need For Speed World, Battlefield Heroes, Motor City etc. are games from EA has shut down and to the best of my knowledge has not given permission to continue. It seems to me assuming Warhammer Online had permission is the leap of faith, not the other way around.

lcpiper said:
I couldn't get to the site now because I am at work, but others it seems have better information. If you don't believe their information than you are free to challenge them about it.
I did, he was talking about a different game, not Warhammer Online.
 
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