Earlier this week the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a number of requests for exemptions to Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). It explains that it has to do this every three years "to right the wrongs put in place," by the US copyright act.
Included in the latest EFF requests are exemptions which seek to allow users to tinker with 'abandoned' video games. Such action by end users may be necessary to get games to work on modern PCs or to disable authentication server checks for servers which are no longer run, for example.
The Verge raises an interesting point with games – if users know they could play them for periods beyond any 'abandonment' by a software publisher the game may be considered better value during its supported life span.
Beyond the world of video games there are other ways that Section 1201 of the DMCA puts unjust digital shackles on end users. The EFF cites an example of basic repairs of automobiles and household devices which are not allowed under the DCMA rule if any kind of DRM is in place. EFF Intellectual Property Director Corynne McSherry claims that "The DMCA was supposed to help protect against copyright infringement, but it's been abused to interfere with all kinds of lawful activities that have nothing to do with infringement". So your car or fridge repair, for instance, could incur a legal risk.
Another complaint targeted against the copyright law is that these exemption requests need to be 'refreshed' every three years. This is "burdensome and confusing, with high hurdles to success," according to the EFF and it also stifles user choice, learning and creative expression. The law has furthermore hindered legitimate, non-infringing uses of copyrighted materials claims the organisation.
Link to HEXUS discussion forums for this news.