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Game preservation site Vimm's Lair hit with DMCA strikes on behalf of the ESA
Loose lips sink ships, folks.
By Red Savarin! | June 7th, 2024

On June 5th, 2024, game preservation site Vimm's Lair was hit by a series of DMCA takedowns on behalf of representatives from the Electronic Software Association (ESA) as well as Nintendo, Sega and Lego. Thanks to community contributions to Vimm's Lair as well as it's titular founder, the site's gone on to preserve a massive collection of games and manuals since 1997. This recent DMCA comes after a unprecendented wave of DMCA takedowns and lawsuits that have been filed against sites such as the Internet Archive and the Steam Workshop for the game Garry's Mod that was (supposedly) filed by Nintendo (I say supposedly due to many still believing that it was possibly a copyright troll.) Of course, some including myself may argue that "piracy" isn't really a crime so much as it is an unintentional benefit for corporations (even the EU's European Commission agrees). But all that's besides the point.

A comprehensive list of all of the games/game franchises that have been removed was compiled by user Juklok on r/Roms. This includes series such as Fallout, Madden, Grand Theft Auto and the Metal Gear series. Speculation on what caused these DMCAs is up in the air at the moment, but some point to the possibility of AI being used on behalf of a law firm representing these organizations, with some users on the Vimm's Lair bulletin board pointing to everything from copyright trolls to AI. To throw my hat into the ring: I honestly find myself agreeing with the latter theory due to the somewhat random and spastic choices of games that were struck down. Won't be going into specifics because I'm not a narc so let's leave it at that and call it a day.

Another thing I blame is the social media circus shows running around advertising these sites 24/7. Whether intentionally or not, these folks are doing the jobs of the corps on their behalf by painting a nice, big neon target on the backs of preservation and archival sites while yelling from the rooftops the exact name and domain of these sites. One can argue that we're well past the wild west days of the 90s to early 2010s internet and that lawyers or legal representatives could find these sites with a simple search which I can agree with to some extent. However, one thing I can't ignore is that spreading awareness of these sites often is a factor in companies coming to DMCA them. Take for example whenever a popular news aggregator like IGN or something talks about some fan-games. In some cases like Nintendo fan-games, it's inevitable that they'll get DMCA'd at some point. In others, it feels like a few of these projects often get nuked a short time after they're reported on, either as a result of the massive spotlight shined over it or due to the aforementioned copyright trolls.

If there's one take away from all of this and so many other sites, it's that loose lips do in fact sink ships.

Stranded at sea without a savior in sight.

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