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Games as Cultural Heritage – Copyright Challenges for Preserving (Orphan) Video Games in the EU

Author: Maier, H.
Published in: JIPITEC 2015, 120-131
Year: 2015
Type: Academic articles

The long-term preservation of complex works such as video games comes with many challenges. Emulation, currently the most adequate preservation strategy for video games, requires several acts that are technically possible, but closely governed and restricted by copyright law and technical protection measures. Without prior authorisation from the rightsholder(s), it is therefore difficult to legally emulate these works. However, games often have several rightsholders that are in some cases near impossible to identify or locate – particularly with regard to older games. This paper therefore focuses on these so-called orphan video games and examines whether (and to what extent) they are covered by the directive on certain permitted uses of orphan works 2012/28/EU (Orphan Works Directive). As complex works with software and audiovisual components, it is difficult to classify video games in their entirety. The Orphan Works Directive, however, only covers certain categories of works. This paper therefore analyses 1) whether video games in their entirety can be considered types of works that fall under the directive, i.e. audiovisual or cinematographic works, and 2) whether the provisions of the orphan work exception are suitable for the specifics of these complex, “multimedia” works.

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