tries to sort through the implications of the
news this week
that publisher Atlus shut
down a fan-created project to emulate Persona 5 on PCs. They note that in spite
of sounding bogus on the surface, this may be a legitimate us of the DMCA,
opining that this is an example of messed up the law is.
chimes in with a look at the big picture, saying the being able to take down an
emulator has chilling implications on the ability to preserve gaming history now
and in the future. Here's part of their write-up:
Video game company
Atlus just sent a
sent a copyright
takedown over the Patreon page for open source
Playstation 3 emulator RPCS3, by invoking section 1201 of the DMCA,
which makes it a felony punishable by 5 years in prison and a $500,000 fine to
Atlus's theory -- which is hard to discern, thanks to a legal word-salad the
company has thrown up as chaff in its wake -- is that because it's possible to
use RPCS3 to play PS3 games that you have pirated rather than paid for, and
since Atlus once made a PS3 game, it gets to decide whether anyone, anywhere can
make or use a tool that lets them play their old games after the hardware they
came with was retired.
Emulation is a critical part of software development. Open up a terminal on your
modern computer and chances are it'll say "tty" at the top. That stands for
"teletype," a technology whose origins date to the early 1900s, that early
computers interfaced with. Over the years, as teletypes turned into screens and
then into windows, the software interfaces relied on layers of emulation and
abstraction to continue to talk to them.
It's impossible to overstate the importance of emulation to games development.
Prior to the advent of emulators, games were
the only art-form
without a past: unless developers had the foresight (and care) to
preserve successive generations of antiquated hardware (a process called
they literally had no way to refer to the works of art that had influenced their
own creations, the entirety of games that had gone before them.
The emulator gave games a history. Guaranteed: every Atlus developer learned
about the history of their artform with emulation. The idea that anyone who's
ever shipped a game for a platform gets to decide whether it continues to be
part of the discourse, the living history of the medium, is grotesque. It's like
the idea that a single sculptor would get to decide whether marbles were
preserved for the ages or smashed into rubble when they were through with