You may recall the long running Blizzard vs. MDY battle from various reports here on WoW Insider. In short, Blizzard sued MDY, the makers of the MMOGlider bot (formerly the WOWGlider bot), claiming that the bot violated Blizzard copyright by writing portions of the game to RAM in order to work (since you only have a license to run the game files, and do not actually own them, unauthorized copies are against the EULA). They also claimed that the bot tortiously interfered with Blizzard's customer base. MDY sued them right back, claiming they had every right to sell and distribute their bots.
MDY received a crushing blow yesterday as the court ruled against them, Virtually Blind reports, declaring them guilty of copyright infringement and tortious interference (Apparently, bots stealing your kills is now a legal issue, which is sort of cool). The ramifications of this decision are still being discussed in various corners of the net and legal world.
Tobold puts it most succinctly when he says that cheating is now officially illegal. At first glance, he certainly seems to be correct. Any program that loads a part of Blizzard's code into the RAM looks like it can now be declared criminal, not only bots, but speed hacks and teleport hacks and other types of hacks as well. Now, in addition to banning them for breaking the EULA, they -- or any other MMO developer in any game -- can also bring them to court for copyright infringement in the USA.
Of course, others are seeing bad consequences for this. As you may recall, the advocacy group Public Knowledge filed an amicus brief on the case that stated that a ruling in favor of Blizzard could have disastrous consequences for copyright law, allowing copyright holders to sue and win over the smallest of EULA or TOS violations. Some commenters are even predicting that the RIAA may be able to use it to prosecute anyone who plays music on their computer.
So has Blizzard struck a blow for legitimate players and game integrity, or have they opened a Pandora's Box to a future of draconian digital copyright law enforcement? Whether either of these imagined outcomes is completely right on the money is something that only time may truly be able to tell. Right now, MDY still has a chance to appeal, so there's a chance that another ruling will put things right back where they were. In the short term, I'm pretty happy that Blizzard has another tool on their belt to deal with cheaters and hackers, whatever else occurs.