US gov’t grants limited right to revive games behind “abandoned” servers

After nearly a year of debate and deliberation, the Library of Congress (LoC) has granted gamers and preservationists a limited legal method to restore access to games that are rendered unplayable thanks to defunct, abandoned authentication servers.

In new guidelines published today, the Librarian of Congress said that gamers deserve the right to continued access to “local play” on games that they paid for, even if the centralized authentication servers required for that play have been taken down. So if Blizzard, for instance, decides to take down the authentication servers required to verify a new copy of StarCraft II online, players will now be legally allowed to craft a workaround that allows the game to work on their PCs.

“The Register explained that the inability to circumvent the TPM [technological prevention measures] would preclude all gameplay, a significant adverse effect, and that circumvention to restore access would qualify as a noninfringing fair use,” the new rules read in part. Under the rules, such authentication servers are considered abandoned when the publisher publicly announces that it has discontinued support or when an unannounced server shutdown has gone on for at least six months.

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