US DMCA grants copyright exemption to museums seeking to preserve online video games

Non-profit video game museum, The Museum of Art and Digital Entertainment (The MADE), has been granted a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) exemption by the US Copyright Office to allow it to preserve online games.

The California-based MADE – self-described as "only all-playable video game museum in the world" – was the first public video game museum in the United States. It houses over 5,300 playable games and is dedicated to the preservation of video game history, as well as operating an educational function that details how video games are made, hoping to "inspire the next generation of game developers".

The ruling, which goes into effect today, confirms "the Librarian of Congress adopts exemptions to the provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) that prohibits circumvention of technological measures that control access to copyrighted works, codified in the United States Code". This means the law that permits prosecution under copyright law "shall not apply to persons who engage in non-infringing uses of certain classes of such works", and grants a "relatively discrete" expansion in circumstances where "a preservation institution legally possesses a copy of a video game’s server code and the game’s local code".

The MADE attributes its success to UC Berkeley, David Petchey, and James Clarendon, who testified upon its behalf, stating in a tweet: "All of that hard work has paid off!"

This means – providing assets are legally passed over by the IP owner, of course – that the MADE can even archive each MMO’s expansion or update.

Concluding its series of tweets, the MADE added: "So if anyone has dead MMO server code out there, and wants us to lock it away for a few years until it’s clear to relaunch the server, or if you’re ready for us to reboot it right now, let us know!" 

The museum is particularly keen to "track down" legal code for Star Wars Galaxy and City of Heroes. "If [the IP owners] agree to hand over the server code, we can bring those games back online legally," the museum said.

About Vikki Blake

It took 15 years of civil service monotony for Vikki to crack and switch to writing about games. She has since become an experienced reporter and critic working with a number of specialist and mainstream outlets in both the UK and beyond, including Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, IGN, MTV, and Variety.

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