I just read this letter from the librarian of congress regarding some new exemptions to the DMCA. One of them specifically mentions videogames, but that seems mostly irrelevant to us (since it seems intended for folks testing for security flaws and dangerous malware). What's more interesting is item 5:
(5) Computer programs protected by dongles that prevent access due to malfunction or damage and which are obsolete. A dongle shall be considered obsolete if it is no longer manufactured or if a replacement or repair is no longer reasonably available in the commercial marketplace.
This is obviously a great relief to many enthusiasts of vintage consoles (as well as computers), since we all know that a great many such dongles are no longer available and must be hacked around.
I just got a newsletter from X-Gaming that contained a startling announcement: The US Copyright Office has legalized abandonware. Or has it? I went to the US Copyright Office website and recognized at once that this claim is a bit exaggerated. Actually, what's happened is that the anti-circumvention part of the DMCA has been relaxed a bit regarding certain types of works. That's the part of the DMCA that makes it illegal to reverse-engineer or to do anything that attempts to bypass the copy protection schemes introduced by software companies. Here's the part about "abandonware":