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The Lawbringer: Kids and Contracts

Welcome to The Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly visit to the intersection of law and the World of Warcraft. I am a third year law student acting as your crossing guard and trying not to get run over myself.

For this week, we'll turn to my mailbag:
I've turned 18 and am on an account my father WAS paying for. Is there any way without having the Ban Hammer brought down on me for me to have exclusive rights to the account? Because I'm pretty sure my father does not play and never really has. Thanks- Tom
Tom's situation is not that unusual, but before we get into his question, I feel the need to reiterate something: I am not a lawyer. While I do appreciate the fact that I'm likely the closest thing to a lawyer that many of y'all feel comfortable contacting, I can't help you with real legal problems. That's a little no-no known as practicing law without a license; doing so could make me ineligible for the bar exam. And let me tell you, I do not want to end up with a loan bill bigger than my parents' mortgage without the piece of paper necessary to pay that debt off. I can tell you what the EULA and TOU says, what the current law is, what policies Blizzard has in place, but I can't tell you what you should do.

(I also feel compelled to note that I am female. For those wishing to accuse me of blind loyalty to Blizzard: if I were a fanboy, the byline would read Gregory Rummel.)

So let's look at Tom's dilemma: he's been sharing his account with his dad, but no longer wants to do so now that he's an adult. Well, first thing to do is look at the EULA/TOU. Account sharing is strictly forbidden under the Terms of Use:
You may not share the Account or the Login Information with anyone other than as expressly set forth herein.
You are not allowed to share your account with your siblings, your spouse, your best friend, or your roommate. Why not? Well, beyond the fact it means you can't play together, it leaves your account open to hacking. Preach it, Brother Waco! Now, note that you can share your information with someone "expressly set forth herein" (translation: someone actually mentioned in the document). If you scour the page, you will find that person in the section called "Eligibility."
3. You represent that you are an adult in your country of residence. You agree to these Terms of Use on behalf of yourself and, at your discretion, for one (1) minor child for whom you are a parent or guardian and whom you have authorized to use the account you create on the Service.
So there is one person with whom an adult can share their account information -- one authorized minor child. Now why might Blizzard have this rule? Why not just have the child form an account and agree on their own behalf?

Think back, all those many weeks ago, to the column on requirements for a contract. Remember that to enter a contract, you generally have to be a legal adult. What's so important about being a legal adult? For the answer, scroll up and watch Huey, Dewey, and Louie weasel their way out of the contracts that would bankrupt Uncle Scrooge's company. Under common law, "infants" -- persons under 18 -- may rescind contracts to which they have agreed at any time. (Statutory law has eroded this privilege somewhat for personal services.) So yes, you can tell your mom that you were actually learning good contract law watching the Disney Afternoon.

Now, given that adults can terminate their contract with Blizzard at any time, it may seem strange to worry about minors rescinding their contracts at any time. It should be noted, though, that termination and rescission are not the same thing. When an adult terminates his contract, he simply stops paying for services. A rescission requires the parties be placed back in the same position they were in before the contract. Thus, the minor would return the software and Blizzard would be forced to refund the sales and possibly the fees. Like I mentioned before, nonrefundable services can't always be rescinded by a minor. Rather than deal with all this, Blizzard just requires that only adults may agree to the terms, and allow parents to share their account with their minor children.

So having established that sharing an account with a minor child is okay, we'll move to the second part of Tom's question. How can a new adult get control of the account owned by their parents? Fortunately for Tom, this is spring break, so I had the time to spend an hour and twenty minutes on hold with Blizzard to ask them about this. (Thankfully the on-hold music is actually decent.)

First, the teenager (We'll call him Mark) has to create a Battle.net account. Then Mark and his mom "Barb" have to call Blizzard to delink the WoW account from Barb's Battle.net account and connect it to Mark's Battle.net account. This has to be done over the phone, and both Mark and Barb must be available and agree to the change. No further paperwork is needed. Now, this is for when mom and son are just transferring ownership. If Barb likes playing her characters and she and Mark want to split the account, they have to use the paid character transfer system to let Mark have his characters and Barb have hers.

Well, I hope this has been a little bit of useful information. Stay tuned for next week, when we explore another intersection of law and Warcraft.

This column is for your entertainment only. If you need real legal advice, talk to a real lawyer. If you have general questions about law or law school, you can email me at lawbringerjd@aol.com or tweet me @wowlawbringer.

Filed under: The Lawbringer

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