Recent Changes -

Reverse engineering, anti-circumvention, and other broken laws

Nic Suzor

Legal issues affecting FOSS gamers and game developers such as copyright, game ratings and censorship of games.

12:05 - 12:30 (25m)


This presentation will outline what I see as some of the more pressing legal issues faced by FOSS gamers and game developers, and how we can work together towards achieving some changes in the law.

  • The reverse engineering exception in the Copyright Act applies only to computer programs, not to computer games;
  • The changes to the anti-circumvention law as a result of the AUSFTA once again make it nearly impossible to know when circumvention is permissible, placing homebrew designers for gaming consoles in an increasingly awkward position;
  • Unlike film and television, there is no R18+ rating for computer games in Australia. Publishing and distributing games likely to be rated higher than MA15+ is a dangerous activity;
  • We still have massive compatibility issues between popular copyleft free software licences (GPL) and licences increasingly used for artistic assets (CC BY, BY-SA).

We at Electronic Frontiers Australia are also very interested in hearing about other legal issues that may be hindering the development of FOSS games in Australia. If we can isolate and identify some problems, there may be opportunities to lobby for change or work together to find workable solutions.

more information

See a more in-depth explanation on my blog:

Or get the presentation (PDF) at:


Nic Suzor is the Chair of Electronic Frontiers Australia, and an iCi PhD researcher and sessional academic in the law school at Queensland University of Technology in Brisbane, Australia. His doctoral thesis explores constitutional principles for the governance of virtual communities.

His background is in both law and computer science, holding undergraduate degrees in Law and IT from QUT, and having worked as a computer programmer before moving to legal research. He has published on issues including copyright law, free software licences, parody and other copyright exceptions, new media regulation and legal issues around the development and participation in computer games. He holds a Masters of Laws (research), and his thesis examined the transformative use of copyright material in Australia. He is involved in several research projects including Creative Commons Australia, research into legal issues of Free and Open Source Software, computer games (with particular reference to massively multiplayer online environments), and commons-based peer production.

Page last modified on January 20, 2009, at 11:38 AM