Videogame lobby group the Entertainment Software Association has rebuffed Electronic Frontier Foundation’s plea to US Copyright Office that allows players to be exempt from DMCA take downs. The agency takes action against players who modify and upload old games.
ESA has claimed that such an act under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act would amount to piracy. Under the Act, anti-circumvention provisions (Section 1201) prevents players, including communities, archives, researchers and museums to modify the game, and make it playable even after the game servers are shut down. The EFF stated that it wanted to keep online player communities happy by preserving games, past the publishers death warrant.
“Section 1201 is often used by entertainment industries not to prevent copyright infringement but to control markets and lock out competition,” argued EFF.
ESA also says that exceptions to Section 1201’s blanket ban will send a message that “hacking—an activity closely associated with piracy in the minds of the marketplace—is lawful.” Imagine the havoc that could result if people believed that “hacking” was ever legal! Of course, “hacking” is legal in most circumstances. ESA, the spokespeople for a group ofsoftware companies, knows this full well. Most of the programmers that create games for Sony, Microsoft, EA, Nintendo, and other ESA members undoubtedly learned their craft by tinkering with existing software. If “hacking,” broadly defined, were actually illegal, there likely would have been no video game industry.
The ESA has gained support from Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America. The group has argued in a proposed statement that mentions that the circumvention of video game consoles increases privacy and is detrimental to secure and innovative platforms. EFF staff attorney Mitch Stoltz stated that Section 1201 is a serious issue for researchers and museums like Oakland, California’s Museum of Art and the Internet Archive, non-profit organization.
The EFF is urging the Copyright Office to grant exemption to academicians and museums from Section 1202, in a bid to preserve old games. On the other hand, ESA argues that exemption from Section 1201, would increase piracy and users will abuse it to avoid the customary costs of existing works or devices. ESA group includes major players like Nintendo, Microsoft, Sony Electronic Arts and others and also conducts the E3 event, every year.
The US Copyright Office has fixed the date for the public hearing for the proposal that is set to take place next month in Los Angeles, California and Washington DC.
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