back to article Videogame publishers to fans: Oi, stop resurrecting our dead titles online

Google-sponsored "digital rights" group the Electronic Frontier Foundation has urged the US Copyright Office to allow players to be exempt from DMCA takedowns when they modify and then upload abandoned games online. However, videogame lobby group the Entertainment Software Association has dismissed the EFF's campaign in a 72- …

  1. VinceH Silver badge

    "Videogame publishers to fans: Oi, freetard! Stop resurrecting our dead titles online"

    Fans to videogame publishers: Stop taking our money for stuff and then terminating the services for it.

    Personally, I don't buy games that need a remote connection to work, precisely because of the risk of this happening. If I buy something, I want to use it whenever I like, and for however long into the future. If that isn't an option, NO SALE.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Have an upvote

      Ever get the feeling that Copyright is in no way designed to support the consumer ?

      1. JP19

        "Ever get the feeling that Copyright is in no way designed to support the consumer ?"

        Copyright was designed specifically for the benefit of the consumer - that was a long time ago and now it is FUBAR.

        1. PacketPusher
          Meh

          Consumers

          When was copyright ever about consumers? To my knowledge, it has always about rewarding content creators for creating with a monopoly on the content that was created. This is about as anti-consumer as you can get. It seems to me that there are two main problems with the copyright system, in the US at least,extending the copyright to preposterous lengths and no penalty for take-downs of fair use.

        2. david 12 Bronze badge

          Well, no.

          English copyright was designed as industry support, to benefit businesses forced out of work when the government pulled the plug on the (government dependent) censorship industry.

          The censors, who had control of copying/publishing, with good existing government contacts, were in a hole when the government decided to stop requiring censorship. To keep them sweet, the government allowed them to retain the copying/publishing control that they had aquired as part of the censorship control.

          Dunno how it developed in other countries, except for places like PNG which adopted it for international trade reasons.

    2. Haku

      "Personally, I don't buy games that need a remote connection to work"

      I fully understand where you're coming from, hence my upvote, especially with the debacle of the Sim City game that required you to have an active internet connection to play the game despite it being a single player...

      However I've become somewhat addicted to GTA Online, which I won't go into detail about how much I play except that I'm level 502... but I do realise eventually one day the GTA V Online servers will be taken offline so I'm making the most of what I have right now, and when the servers do go cold I'll still have the offline version of GTA V to play, which is still fun but sadly I'll lose a whole heap of content and idioms of the game the Online version offers.

      1. VinceH Silver badge

        "However I've become somewhat addicted to GTA Online, which I won't go into detail about how much I play except that I'm level 502... but I do realise eventually one day the GTA V Online servers will be taken offline so I'm making the most of what I have right now, and when the servers do go cold I'll still have the offline version of GTA V to play, which is still fun but sadly I'll lose a whole heap of content and idioms of the game the Online version offers."

        I have GTA V - and I've completed the offline game (the main storyline game, not all of the offline content/missions, on which I think I'm at about 75% - I haven't played it once since completing the main game, though). I buy it for the offline game - the online side is a potential bonus if I ever decide to use it (before the servers are unplugged!)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          It's even more painful in regards to games that have a heavy multiplayer or co-op focus (which at least in the second category is almost every single triple a now released - not that I care for them myself), after that there's mmo's that have spun down - latest example for me would be Rusty Hearts which was a great side scrolling brawler thing.

          Oh well, this is why you should never play a multiplayer game that doesn't provide you the ability to build your own hosts or allows direct connections.

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    Someone call the ACA ("Andrew's Copyright Ambulance"), something weird is going on!

    Congress clearly intended to protect the right of consumers and developers to choose between competing styles of platforms.

    Did the publishers just argue to abolish copyrights and exclusive "only on my platform or the highway" contracts?

    WOAH!!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    very fair and balanced

    Google-sponsored "digital rights" group the Electronic Frontier Foundation

    I guess anybody here who has donated to EFF is just a Google-fortifying sap. Nice scare quotes too.

    Of course you can't expect too much from the publication that's trailblazing the slur "freetard".

    1. Andrew Norton

      Re: very fair and balanced

      Least they didn't go "full Prenda", and call the EFF a terrorist group https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20130421/21241622795/angry-prenda-is-angry.shtml (disclosure, I'm on the defense team on this case)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: very fair and balanced

      "Of course you can't expect too much from the publication that's trailblazing the slur "freetard"."

      Wouldn't expect anything else from a person/robot that is caught up in so much fear that they can't use their real handle. Grow some balls.

      If google can get this exemption through, then they could host a mirage of games online, which isn't something they have tried...yet. Although I'm not too sure what is required for a game to be considered "modified", but if the requirements are fuzzy, google just might be gearing up to take on Steam. I never thought about it before this article, but I'm surprised google hasn't tried to push for exemptions like these already.

    3. EL Vark

      Re: very fair and balanced

      Glad I wasn't alone in feeling a squeeze to the nads when I ran into those "quotation marks". This is the sort of thing that encourages derisive name-calling (Fiveash, you TW@T!). See?

    4. Tac Eht Xilef

      Re: very fair and balanced

      Google-sponsored "digital rights" group the Electronic Frontier Foundation...

      I guess IHBT but really, I expected more from the media-sponsored "online magazine" The Register...

      (Hell, I don't even agree with or like the EFF very much - and yet you've caused me to stand up just a little bit for them. Well done!)

      1. Antonymous Coward
        Pirate

        Re: very fair and balanced

        Furthermore, commercially-sponsored "online magazine" The Register...

        " ...arguing that such an exemption under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act would amount to piracy."

        ...hereby informs you that you're all shameless terrorist pirates.

        You should all be hanged. Slaughtering honest god-fearing mariner folk like this just to "steal" their "intellectual property". You disgust me. It's an absolute scandal. Shame on you all.

        1. Grikath Silver badge

          Re: very fair and balanced

          "shameless terrorist pirates"

          When it comes to abandonware? shameless..

          If that makes me a Pirate... m'kay..

          If my idiosyncratic love for for ancient games strikes terror in the hearts of the soulless barstards holding on to their Eternal Copyright? So I be arrr Terrrrorrrist! yarr.

    5. BryceP

      Re: very fair and balanced

      The Reg has always gone out of its way to push the buttons of every government, business, organization, group, and reader. It's as time-honored a tradition as Reg journalists showing up to the office Monday still drunk, reeking of beer and whisky, dressed in the same clothes they left wearing on Friday.

      This is also why the header images take up more and more page space the more we complain about them. Our favorite rag just wouldn't be the same if it didn't show contempt for everybody and everything, especially itself.

      1. Solmyr ibn Wali Barad

        Re: very fair and balanced

        "Our favorite rag just wouldn't be the same if it didn't show contempt for everybody and everything, especially itself."

        Well met. Everyone should get bitten fairly and equally. It's kind of implied in the mission statement.

        We, the commentariat, shall not tolerate any discrimination on this count.

      2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

        Re: very fair and balanced

        BryceP gets it. We're rude about everyone. And Google has given the foundation a million dollars here or there. Small beans for Google, but a big chunk for the EFF.

        And I'm speaking as someone who thinks the EFF mostly does good. But giving people a shoeing is why we're here.

        C.

        1. Antonymous Coward
          Facepalm

          Re: very fair and balanced

          Quite sure BriceP isn't the only one who "gets it." What I'm not so sure about is the wisdom of applying that shoe to the groin of the Commentarderate Soviet. Even by "proxy."

          As ye sow, so shall ye reap.

          Sauce for the goose...

          What goes around...

          etc..

    6. Oninoshiko
      Trollface

      Re: very fair and balanced

      elReg takes the piss out of everybody. If you want "fair and balanced" go to foxnews.com.

  4. Haku
    Unhappy

    I feel this won't end well because not enough influential people care about old games.

    But what would it be like if the same happened with old music/tv/films because the content creators knew they couldn't make money off old stock so took steps to legally stop people from consuming anything but new stock?

    "We are sorry but you cannot to watch "It's a Wondeful Life" as this title has been deleted. Other film suggestions you might like to watch instead include "Fast & Furious 7", "Hot Tub Time Machine 2" and "The Expendables 3"."

    Actually, this already happens with those on-demand tv sites like iPlayer etc. where the shows have a short shelf life :(

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I feel this won't end well because not enough influential people care about old games.

      It's not really about old games, but making something free so g**gle doesn't have to pay for it. G**gle's MO is to take something that has value, and turn it into something that only has value for google. Apparently the best way g**gle has to do that is to make it free from cash price, but costly to your privacy. Old games they may be, but you never know what some old games might turn into if you modifiy them, however how much modification is required to the game to qualify for an exemption isn't specified.

      It's odd that you picked "It's A Wonderful Life", because that movie has already felt it's share of greedy lock down by the copyright extensions (which is why it is no longer broadcasted 24/7 on EVERY channel around Christmas). However, it is a great example of what happens when your implied worry is executed...lock down!

      1. PleebSmash
        Stop

        Re: I feel this won't end well because not enough influential people care about old games.

        It's not really about old games, but making something free so g**

        This has to do with modders and archive.org, not Google.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I feel this won't end well because not enough influential people care about old games.

          "This has to do with modders and archive.org, not Google."

          No, it has to do with copyright, hence the need for the DCMA exemption. Did you not read the article at all, the bold part in particular? However, you're right it isn't about google...not yet. Give it a year, watch.

          By calling out the EFF, apparently they want to do with video games what they have already done with music, movies and books. They're trying to turn a trifecta into a superfecta. How this isn't bluntly obvious to everyone is beyond me. Ask yourself, if you were google, would you want to add video games to your storm?

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: I feel this won't end well because not enough influential people care about old games.

            what they have already done with music, movies and books

            What did Google do to music, movies and books?

            Amazon did more, I think.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Hot tub time Machine 2

      Having been dragged to see it by my grandson yesterday, I can honestly say that I would rather watch paint dry than see any of the other suggested titles.

      If this is the best that Hollwood can come up with then I really don't hold out much hope for the future of a good part of the Movie Industry.

      There were SIX other people in the screening! Four of them departed before the 30 minute mark.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you buy something ...

    ... then you have a right to use that product, if the vendor stops providing a service that limits what was purchased then like cars you should have the right to obtain replacement parts/repairs via other vendors.

    I am all for creators retaining control of their products but in the event that the creator looses interest in maintaining a product then irrespective of any get out claus the buyer should have a right to continue using the product they purchased even if that requires modification of the product to keep it running.

    At the moment there are lots of publishers taking money and then later removing what the buyer has purchased without returning their investment. I would say if a publisher takes money for the use of a nonconsumable product then the buyer has a right to use that product indefinately. Presently virtual possesions are not protected at all and too many vendors are abusing this loophole to exploit consumers without fear of reprecussions.

    Until the playing field is level then I have zero time for the complaints of publishers, they want to take everything and give nothing in return. If you have taken my money then I own what I purchased irrespective of any legal doubletalk you might have forced me to click through, if a vendor fails to maintain the product then I have a right to maintain it myself to retain what I purchased

    All money is afterall just another virtual item and other virtual items should be treated in the same fashion

  6. Paul Shirley

    As an occasional game designer my position has always been that you're buying a licence to play my *content* and the playback tech is secondary but covered. Resell my content and I'll sue you. Resell my playback tech, I'll sue. Keep the content and playback tech working, I'll try to avoid paying you for your hard work but you're safe.

    But publishers create very little, own a lot. And want your money more than they want to accept any obligation to past customers. They want to rent content, not asign you any rights. A pox on them.

  7. Captain DaFt

    Cynicism mode engaged:

    Big game companies Do not want you to play their games, they only want you to buy them.

    After all, if you actually play their games, it incurs what they see as needless expense such as maintaining servers and support.

    Plus, playing their old games means you're selfishly holding on to money that they see as rightfully theirs, since you should be buying new games, not playing old ones.

    It's why I stick to independent game makers, they actually want people to play their games. They try to write games that are fun.

    At least until they show up on the big companies' radar, and get bought out for obscene amounts of money.

  8. frank ly Silver badge

    Entertainment Software Association

    Shouldn't that be written as - Entertainment Software Ass. in The Register?

  9. BongoJoe

    If Cyan, or whomever, updated the Myst cycle so that they worked on modern machines and without QuickCrashTime then I'd be willing to pay good money for it.

    Otherwise, I'm with the freetards.

    Yours, etc, lost in a maze of twisty passages.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Have you tried RealMyst? This redoes Myst as a 3D FPA, no QT necessary. It was made during the P3 era, so the hardware requirements in today's terms are easy, and IIRC it's available on Steam so should work even today.

      1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

        I don't know about Steam but Real Myst is on GOG.com for $5.99 and, best of all, COMPLETELY DRM FREE! as are all GOG games. Cannot recommend GOG enough.

        1. southen bastard

          thanks for the heads up on GOG looks great and have just joined

          1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

            "...GOG looks great and have just joined"

            Watch for the sales which they have all the time. And it pays to pay attention; periodically they will give away something worthwhile for free. Gotta be lucky to catch it though.

    2. Cpt Blue Bear

      Try Myst Masterpiece Edition. It runs on Win 7 and has higher resolution, true colour graphics. I played it through a while back.

      If you really want to play the original version, there's a development engine for ScummVM. I've no idea how well it works because I couldn't get it to work a year or two back.

      1. Charles 9 Silver badge

        "Try Myst Masterpiece Edition. It runs on Win 7 and has higher resolution, true colour graphics. I played it through a while back."

        RealMyst actually postdates Master Edition by about a year. This was supposed to be the "ultimate" edition of the game: the way they had really wanted the game to be played: not as a slideshow but an actual 3D first-person experience.

        However, according to GoG, neither version is 64-bit compatible. Too old for today's hardware, it seems.

  10. Crazy Operations Guy

    Expand this to all technology

    For me, an ideal world would be where if a company stopped selling / sporting a product, they should release all the source code and schematics for it. They won't be making any more money off of it, so why bother keeping it secret?

    I could understand an exception where if the new product is 95% like an old product, both are kept secret (Say a refresh of a router where they just plop in a newer version of the same SoC).

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      Re: Expand this to all technology

      Well, when it comes to products, those are covered by patents, and when the patents expire, the plans associated with that patent actually become public domain.

      The trick with copyright is that works can get "second wind," so this raises a debate on just how long an author/artist/etc. should be entitled to exclusivity. Plus of course there's the argument of copyrighted works made under contract (which changes the terms).

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge

        Re: Expand this to all technology

        Patents are not the same thing as "plans" (tech data package). Older patents were often useful, but more recent patents are deliberately obtuse. They push the limits on the requirement that the description be sufficient to one skilled in the art.

        By the way, patents and even applications are already in the public domain. Including any embedded "plans" LOL. The info is already in public domain (freely available, no cost, help yourself), just not the rights.

    2. P. Lee Silver badge

      Re: Expand this to all technology

      >They won't be making any more money off of it, so why bother keeping it secret?

      Probably because its rarely all their own work. What happens when the license a product/code which is still supported but the final software is not? Do the modifiers get an automatic license to use the included code? Can they redistribute it or does the product still die as the number of original copies dwindles? What happens if the product is obsolete but a portion of the tech in it is still valuable? E.g. what if XP needs killing because it is a flawed product, MS decides to give everyone a copy of Windows 10 but the NTFS code is the same in both? What if NTFS then needs a slight modification which breaks XP? Does the whole of the NTFS code have to be opened?

      I'm not sure there is a good resolution to this. It is a can of worms which I suspect will stay firmly closed, mostly on the basis that customers will probably buy the stuff anyway.

      1. Cpt Blue Bear

        Re: Expand this to all technology

        "Probably because its rarely all their own work"

        Cyan's community release of Myst Online fell foul of this a while back over the Bink video codec.

        If you liked Myst, its well worth giving Myst Online, or whatever they are calling it at the moment, a run. It runs very well on modern hardware and manages to still look beautiful today, with the bonus that you can play through the puzzle worlds cooperatively.

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: Expand this to all technology

          I've noticed that, even today, companies make use of the proprietary Bink codec. Anyone know why it's still in such wide use vs. something less encumbered like WebM?

  11. john devoy

    Give them a choice

    Okay, if they want to block users modifying old games to keep them going then they should be legally obliged to support their online games; If i have bought a game with an online option then they should keep the servers for that game running for the next 75years until copyright runs out. Gaming took a downhill turn when the shysters in suits took over, they really do want to eat their cake and still have it don't they.

  12. ACx

    I realise this site thinks its really clever and hip using the word "freetard", but unfortunately it makes this reader assume the writer is a very much lazy, ignorant, and retarded themselves. Its a moronic judgement word, which invariably is ill targeted by lazy "journalists". Perhaps a dictionary? Thesaurus? Use of a brain cell?

    1. MrDamage

      Whoosh

      The term you are looking for, is "clickbait".

      You fell for it, clicked, then clicked again to post a rant about it, and then clicked a third time for submit.

      It got you. Hook, line, and sinker.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Gimp

        Re: Whoosh

        The El Reg boffinry is the best. They have mutant bastard childs of ingsoc indoctrinators and incense-preserved marketdrois beavering away in the underground vaults of Umbrella CorporationReg Towers.

    2. dan1980

      @ACx

      In fairness to Kelly, the term "freetard" was only used in the title and was paraphrasing what the 'Videogame publishers' were saying.

      I took it as the authour implying that the publishers were viewing the people they are complaining about (consumers) as being people just out to get something for free.

      And this is very much what they do believe - they have no respect for the consumer.

      That said, I don't understand why "digital rights" needed the quotes - that's what they are - a digital rights group. Sure, this is something they call themselves but it's accurate. The only reason I can see for adding the quotes to it would be if one wished to imply that that was only their stated purpose and that their real purpose or focus was something rather different.

      If that's the case then, well, citation needed.

    3. LucreLout Silver badge

      unfortunately it makes this reader assume the writer is a very much lazy, ignorant, and retarded themselves.

      Sure, but they're our lazy ignorant retards, as opposed to bought and paid for media whores. And it's one of the reasons I've been reading El Reg since year one.

  13. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Happy

    Orphan works?

    Surely the get out clause is to attempt to contact the publisher/creator by doing a cursory search online and when no usable results turn up, you can safely assume that it's an "orphan work" and be legally protected. Isn't that how it's supposed to happen?

    1. Antonymous Coward
      Coffee/keyboard

      Re: Orphan works?

      Only if you're a corporation and the (former) "owner" is a mere pleb, certainly not the other way around, as I understand it.

  14. Roj Blake Silver badge

    To Take the Nautical Analogy Further...

    It's perfectly legal to collect jetsam as it's been deliberately abandoned by the (now former) owner.

    Collecting jetsam is not piracy.

  15. SolidSquid

    As I understood it, this wasn't about uploading the games themselves online but rather about people either bypassing online checks for licences if the licence check server has gone offline or setting up third party servers for multiplayer (where possible). The point is people should be able to play games they've bought legally even after the publisher has decided to stop supporting it, and if they can find a work around then they should be allowed to roll with that without it breaking the law

  16. Andyf

    If a service required to play a wholly purchased game is taken offline by the vendor, rendering the product unusable, shouldn't purchasers still using the product have a right to a refund from the vendor, or as someone else suggested, the freedom to source that service elsewhere?

  17. People's Poet

    The EFF are a suprising bunch, one minute they're vandalising Colonial Statues and threatening white South Africans that the honeymoon period is over and the next minute they're urging the US Copyright Office to allow players to be exempt from DMCA takedowns Life is full of surprises!

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