by Timothy Lee
Thu, Oct 4th 2007 11:54am
CNET is reporting that Entertainment Software Association president Mike Gallagher argued in a recent speech that "very few countries follow the path of the DMCA." Which is a bit of a head scratcher; the EU passed its version of the DMCA in 2001, CAFTA included provisions requiring that Central American countries adopt the DMCA, and the US has also signed "free trade" deals requiring adoption of a DMCA clone with Chile, Australia, South Korea, Singapore, and other countries. Japan has a limited DMCA. Canada doesn't have a DMCA yet but politicians there are hard at work trying to change that. Now obviously, that doesn't encompass the whole world, but it certainly encompasses the most important markets where video games are concerned. What Gallagher doesn't mention is that the DMCA has had a stifling effect on third-party experimentation with videogame consoles. Console makers have pretty much been able to lock their consoles down so that only "authorized" software manufacturers could produce games. It wasn't always that way. Some of the most important precedents concerning reverse engineering and copyright law arose from the creation of unauthorized games for consoles in the late 1980s. Back then, courts held that third-parties didn't need the console manufacturers' permission to create games for their consoles. Now, thanks in part to the DMCA, it's much harder for third parties create unauthorized games for modern consoles. That harms consumers by limiting competition in the video game market.
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