The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has filed legal documents with the US Copyright Office seeking exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), including one relating specifically to video games.
On their website the EFF detail plans for games to exempt from copyright laws if they "require communication with a server" but "are no longer supported by the developer." The move doesn't include "persistent world" massively multiplayer online games.
Essentially they want anyone to be able to go into a game's code and rework it for continued use after online support has been discontinued, for purposes of, as the EFF say, "continued play, preservation, research, or study."
Earlier this year EA shit down the servers of 50 games including Battlefield 2, Crysis 2 and several titles in the Command and Conquer series.
While EA were clear that they would investigate "community-supported options to preserve online functionality for these titles" (via Eurogamer) it does provide a nice example of the kind of games the EFF wants users to be able to refit for use after the developers and publishers move on.
In the EFF petition, published online here, they say: "The fair use doctrine enables the manipulation and copying of software code in order to gain access to the ideas and functions embedded within it that are not protected by copyright, including server communication protocols."
The EFF's petition extends to car technology, remix videos using clips from DVDs and Blu-Rays, and also requests that a previous exemption for jailbreaking phones is extended to tablets and other mobile devices.
The fair use doctrine enables the manipulation and copying of software code in order to gain access to the ideas and functions embedded within it that are not protected by copyright, including server communication protocols," reads the petition.