Late last year, the Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (the MADE), a nonprofit organisation in California, argued to the US Copyright Office for an expansion to some current exemptions. Current game preservation exemptions keep some "abandoned" games accessible. This means that libraries, archives, and museums can use emulators and other circumvention tools to make old classics playable.
MADE argued that this should include online games, too.
Although the Current Exemption does not cover it, preservation of online video games is now critical.
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.
This week, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), (whose members include Electronic Arts, Nintendo, Microsoft and others), opposed the request, saying it goes too far beyond the current exemption.
The proponents characterize these as ‘slight modifications’ to the existing exemption. However they are nothing of the sort. The proponents request permission to engage in forms of circumvention that will enable the complete recreation of a hosted video game-service environment and make the video game available for play by a public audience.
Worse yet, proponents seek permission to deputize a legion of ‘affiliates’ to assist in their activities.
They feel that organisations such as MADE would be direct competition, because they charge $10 for entry. It doesn't matter that they are a non-profit, because it would still classify as commercial use.
The ESA go on to explain that game companies regularly reintroduce or reimagine games, such as the remaster of Call of Duty Modern Warfare, the Nintendo Classic consoles, and the announced World of Warcraft Classic. As such, game companies working alone would be far better for preservation than expanding the current exemption.
You can read the full 49 page filing here.