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The U.S. Government is Looking for Public Input on Exemptions for Abandoned Video Games

the battle of copyright 04-20-15-1

Previously, we reported on the Entertainment Software Association blocking the Electronic Frontier Foundation from campaigning to get exemptions to the outdated Digital Millennium Copyright Act, so that enthusiasts and archivists alike can modify games to continue being able to play and or put them on display, when publishers abandon them of course.

Now, we’ve learned that the US government is currently in the process of carrying out a hearing regarding exemptions for use of a large number of various software and hardware (that were abandoned by their owners) that were previously considered unlawful. While the hearing is overall not taking particular aim at video games, there are a few proposed classes for exemption that are of serious note for gamers.

Take a quick look at the three classes that have been quoted below:

Proposed Class 17: Jailbreaking – all-purpose mobile computing devices
This proposed class would permit the jailbreaking of all-purpose mobile computing devices to allow the devices to run lawfully acquired software that is otherwise prevented from running, or to remove unwanted preinstalled software from the device. The category “all-purpose mobile computing device” includes all-purpose non-phone devices (such as the Apple iPod touch) and all-purpose tablets (such as the Apple iPad or the Google Nexus). The category does not include specialized devices such as e-book readers or handheld gaming devices, or laptop or desktop computers

Proposed Class 19: Jailbreaking – video game consoles

This proposed class would permit the jailbreaking of home video game consoles. Asserted noninfringing uses include installing alternative operating systems, running lawfully acquired applications, preventing the reporting of personal usage information to the manufacturer, and removing region locks. The requested exemption would apply both to older and currently marketed game consoles.

Proposed Class 23: Abandoned software – video games requiring server communication

This proposed class would allow circumvention of TPMs on lawfully acquired video games consisting of communication with a developer-operated server for the purpose of either authentication or to enable multiplayer matchmaking, where developer support for those server communications has ended. This exception would not apply to video games whose audiovisual content is primarily stored on the developer’s server, such as massive multiplayer online role-playing games.

Among a total of 27 proposed classes (which you can read through in the complete document here), these are the ones that are particularly meaningful for the video game world. However, many of the classes in the list are very important to consider as the Information Age progresses, if we want to be able to truly record history as it is now.

This is a link to the website from which you are able to submit a comment to the hearing. The Copyright Office wants comments to come in two forms. First, the long form comment is set up for those who wish to provide a full legal and evidence-focused basis for their comment. Long form comments are limited to 25 pages, which can be single-spaced, but at least 12-point font. This page limit does not include documented evidence supporting the comment, however.

The short form comment is designed for those who want to express support (or opposition) to the proposed exemptions. The short form comments are to be no more than one page, which can also be single-spaced, but no larger than 12-point font.

For those interested in sending in a comment, the cutoff date is May 1st. More detailed rules and guidelines are on the page itself, so if you wish to send in a comment, give that a read first.

Image source: Christopher Dombres

Chris Gregoria

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I'm a pretty chill guy. Huge video game fan, but a bigger anime fan. I also love to write - obviously.