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Game preservationists ask for DMCA exemption to MMOs

The state of the art requires it

City of Heroes
City of Heroes closed in 2012.
NC Soft
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

A video game museum in Oakland has asked the U.S. Copyright Office to grant an exemption to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for purposes of preserving defunction MMO games.

The request, by the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (MADE) of Oakland, Calif., was made as a comment for the upcoming review of the Copyright Office’s anti-circumvention provisions of the DMCA. Every three years, the Office reconsiders these rules.

The rules already provide exemptions for the purposes of video game preservation, but they only apply to games that do not require an online server — the basis of a massively multiplayer online game.

“Online games have become ubiquitous and are only growing in popularity,” the MADE reasoned. “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.”

MADE also sharply pointed out that multiplayer games, today, largely eschew local multiplay options. "Local multiplayer options are increasingly rare, and many games no longer support LAN connected multiplayer capability,” the museum said.

MADE wants an exemption for online games, so that libraries, archives and museums could operate serveres for ones that are discontinued by their publishers.

Torrent Freak notes that MADE is joined in this call by the digital rights group Pubic Knowledge and others. Public Knowledge pointed to the long-running, ongoing list of Electronic Arts games shut down — most of them licensed works — as proof that preservation is warranted.