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Posts with tag Terms-of-use

What happens if you break the WoW Annual Pass 12-month commitment?

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

The WoW Annual Pass is probably one of my favorite things ever to come from Blizzard. I'm going to be playing World of Warcraft for the next 12 months anyway, right? Now I've got a free mount, guaranteed access to the Mists of Pandaria beta, and a free copy of Diablo 3 waiting for me on release day. It doesn't get much better for a die-hard Blizzard fan like myself. This deal is so awesome that I wouldn't be surprised if more games were added to the bundle at some point in the future.

Many players have sent in questions to me about the legality of the commitment and how binding the 12-month commitment really is. What happens when you cancel your subscription to the WoW Annual Pass before your 12 months are paid for? What happens to your Tyrael's Charger, free copy of Diablo 3, and beta access? Where do these perks go if you fail to meet your commitment?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: What does B(viii) even mean anymore?

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Running parallel to the games we love and enjoy is a world full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

Part B, section viii of the World of Warcraft Terms of Use state that players are not allowed to communicate directly with players who are playing characters aligned with the opposite faction. This makes sense for a game that has a heavy faction-based player versus player system, as well as a comprehensive achievement system with numerous milestones based on interaction with the opposing faction. However, over time, Blizzard's own actions and the ever-evolving customs of the community have made B(viii) something of a mystery. We communicate with the opposing faction moreso than ever today, in game and out. And while the Terms of Use makes the point that this communication is in-game only, one has to wonder where the forums and the player collusion that goes on there fits into Blizzard's understanding of cross-faction communication.

This week, The Lawbringer is all about player communication and, in light of B(viii), some issues regarding how such communications between the Horde and Alliance have either gone completely unnoticed, not cared for, or are even necessary and tolerated by Blizzard. At the end of the day, I'd like to find out for myself what B(viii) really means, and what something like Tol Barad win-trading does in the face of such a provision in the Terms of Use.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: 5 ways trade chat can get you in trouble


Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Running parallel to the games we love and enjoy is a world full of rules, regulations, pitfalls and traps. How about you hang out with us as we discuss some of the more esoteric aspects of the games we love to play?

There's this place downtown that I know. You've probably been warned about it -- a seedy place of corruption, danger, intrigue, questionable math, and Tempest Keep runs where the Ashes of Al'ar are on reserve. You'll never be able to link Thunderfury last. This article is not for the faint of heart, so if you are easily offended, I would advise turning around 180 degrees and walking away. We're talking trade chat.

This week, we talk about five ways trade chat can get you into some trouble with Blizzard. From naming violations to impersonating and scamming players, you can strand yourself out on some pretty thin ice with the GMs at Blizzard by violating the Terms of Use. For the sake of everyone else in game, don't.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: A rookie's guide to the TOU

Welcome to the Lawbringer, Wow.com's weekly guide to the intersection of law and the World of Warcraft. I'm Amy Schley, a new law school graduate and your tour guide through the rabbit hole of contracts, copyrights and other craziness.

Greetings again! We're on part three of an examination of the various legal documents to which we must consent in order to play our beloved World of Warcraft. Parts one and two examined the End User License Agreement; this segment will look at the Terms of Use ("TOU").

The first thing you'll notice as you examine the TOU is that it is quite similar to the EULA. This is by design -- while one of the EULA's provisions is to agree to the Terms of Use, the repetition increases the likelihood we'll actually read it. There are quite a few differences, including the code of conduct and the naming policy.

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Filed under: The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: MDY v. Blizzard Q & A

Welcome to The Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly look at the intersection of law and the World of Warcraft. I'm a new law school grad, acting as your tour guide after escaping the rapping, taco-eating armadillos of my bar prep class.

Last week's timeline of the MDY v. Blizzard case seemed to prompt more questions than it answered. Therefore, I want to take this week to go through the many questions and comments that were left on the site or emailed to me.

Sean asked:

"Can you explain the unfair competition claim? As the only one that MDY won (far as I can tell), it's interesting in its own right."

Blizzard alleged that MDY's business practices of selling a product that encouraged people to violate their EULA & TOU was a willful and knowing violation of Arizona's Unfair Competition Law. MDY moved for summary judgment and Blizzard didn't oppose the motion. MDY "won" by default.

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Filed under: The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Euro-ver my head, contract law edition

Welcome to the Lawbringer, your weekly stop at the intersection of law and Warcraft. I am your crossing guard, trying desperately to not get run over myself.

First, I want to apologize for being a day late, but my week was spent preparing for the Multistate Professional Responsibility Exam. Unfortunately, the test was channeling Illidian. If I get a letter in a few weeks saying that I'm not yet responsible enough to be a lawyer, I will not be surprised.

Anyway, on to this week's promised topic: European Contract Law. We'll be approaching the same topics we covered on my side of the pond: contract formation, contract termination, and unfairness. These concepts form the basis of players' relationship with Blizzard, just like they do in the US. Whether Blizzard has the right to publish information about your avatars, ban you from the game, delete your achievements, or force you to resolve disputes in a mediation are all affected by the laws of the country in which a player resides.

The first challenge in this column is that there traditionally has been no "European" contract law; these issues were decided at a national level through the home country's common or civil law system. Trans-nationalism being all the rage, however, the politicos of the European Union have formed the Commision on European Contract Law which has drafted Principles of European Contract Law. A Common Frame of Reference "toolbox" to help various European legislatures standardize the various laws of contract across the continent to match these Principles. What this means, though, is that this law is in a state of flux -- and I am not a barrister, abogada, rechtsanwalt, advokat, or avocat. Take everything in this column with a big grain of salt. And possibly a margarita to wash it down.

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Filed under: The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Contracts and player bans


Welcome to The Lawbringer, where we investigate the intersection of law and Warcraft and answer such questions as what do you call a raid of lawyers in the Maelstrom. Answer? A good start.

Last week, we looked at what is private about our armory profiles. Hint: not much. But, life has a funny way of providing a use for things we thought were annoying. Check out this email we received Saturday:
"Two days ago I lost my wedding ring. Of course my wife of 4 years finds it odd and starts to question what I do at night while she is at work. After hours of arguing, I remember about the WoW Armory. I rush to the PC and show her almost minute by minute what I was doing at night. She knows my characters and knew it was my character, and the Armory showed her everything."
So remember, guys and dolls, the Armory can convert your spouse's infidelity aggro to regular WoW aggro. Use at your own risk.

Today, we're going to look at losing the ability to play WoW, such as with player bans like the one given to Ensidia a few weeks ago. However, just as understanding how one gets into a contract helps in understanding how that contract affects players, learning about how to get out of a contract helps in understanding how bans affect players.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Contracts and the achievement tracker

Welcome to this week's episode of the Lawbringer! Each week we'll dive into the intricacies of law and the World of Warcraft. Your mission, should you chose to accept it, is to slay demons of ignorance for the benefit of your fellow denizens of Azeroth. Demons of ignorance slain: 1/4782*.

*Number of ignorant demons may be subject to nerfing.


So last week I introduced y'all to a bit of legal theorizing about how law and WoW might mix if they got pugged together. (Hint: not very well.) Y'all also were clamoring for my dissertation on gold farming. I want to give a big thank you to commentator Arnold for his excellent suggestions for improvements to make, and I promise I will be making those corrections soon. This week we'll be moving into some more concrete topics, prompted by a email from my mailbag:
The new armory prints out date and timestamps for every little move you make in game. Run a heroic, it will show the date and time for every boss you kill. I didn't mind when it printed a date for achievements. But such fine-grained detail being so publicly available is .. invasive of privacy.
This is an excellent issue, Wendy, and a subject of much qq-ing on the forums. However, before we can look into what privacy Blizzard may be invading, we need to understand our relationship with Blizzard; to do that, we need to look at a bit of contract law.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

Officers' Quarters: Multiple personalities


Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

Sharing accounts is an issue that I've talked about in the past (and I'm sure, in some people's opinions, beaten to death). Previously I've covered a few different situations. First there was a general question about the issue, which I answered back in 2007. Then there was an officer who shared his account with his girlfriend (which is still a terrible idea in my opinion). Finally, a guild leader's account was banned because he bought it from another player, and his guild's progression subsequently skidded to a halt. As if those examples weren't enough to convince you that account sharing can cause a lot of problems, here's another one:

Recently, my fellow guild officers and I decided to kick a member from our guild, which also caused three other members to leave. The person who we initially kicked from the guild had asked our guild leader for a BoE Epic item in the "Ask an Officer" tab of the bank. Our guild leader responded by saying he'd ask the officers about it before handing the axe out.

Not less than an hour later he asked another guild member to take it out of the guild bank for him. Being a good guild member, they asked the guild leader if it was okay. It was instantly perceived as being an attempt to ninja the item from the bank by trying to avoid the guild leader.

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

Why you don't have freedom of speech in WoW

Freedom of speech is one of the most often quoted rights by gamers and people online, yet it is sadly one of the most misunderstood. This right comes about regularly when people are discussing forum bans, moderation, and people like Ghostcrawler telling folks they need to behave. People think that just because they live in a democracy or free society that they have an innate right to do and say whatever they want wherever they want.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In a private forum, such as the official World of Warcraft forums, or on a site like WoW.com, you don't have any inherent right to do anything. The people running the site or designing the game sets the rules, and that's that. If Blizzard says all communication must end with "Ni!" or you're banned from their forums, then that's the rule you must follow. It's their property and their choice to do that.

If we say every comment must make fun of gnomes or the commenter will be banned, then that's the rule you must follow. It's our website.

Freedom of speech has absolutely no bearing within a private organization. When you accept WoW's Terms of Service or use a website like WoW.com, you agree to abide by the organization's rules. If you don't follow those rules, or if someone in the organization just wakes up on the wrong side of the bed that day, you can be prohibited from returning to the forums or playing the game.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Forums

Blizzard files lawsuit against private server

We've talked about private servers on the site here before, but in case you haven't heard the term: they're unofficial servers, very much against WoW's Terms of Use, that are run by companies other than Blizzard. They're shady as get out -- some make you pay (and these are not people you'd ever want to give any credit card information to), some will delete or change characters on a regular basis, and many times they're created just so whoever's running them can mess around with GM powers, and cheat with any items they want.

So you can see why Blizzard would want them shut down, and that's exactly what they're trying to do with this lawsuit filed in the California Central District Court against a company called "Scapegaming" that runs at least one private WoW server (and they've apparently been running microtransactions in-game -- selling in-game items for "donations" of money). The law firm working for Blizzard, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, also worked on the "Bnetd" case, which was another piece of unofficial server software that allowed players to play off of Blizzard's Battle.net setup.

The complaint lists copyright infringement as the cause, which means they're probably using the same argument targeted at other private servers in the past. We'll keep an eye on this, but it's very likely Blizzard will win this one unopposed, and Scapegaming (or at least just their WoW server) will get shut down for good.

Thanks, Phenom!

Filed under: Realm Status, Blizzard, News items, Hardware

Divining just what that "non-personal system information" might be

As Eliah noted the other day, Blizzard is running another hardware survey -- your WoW client will be sending them information about what kinds of hardware are in your computer. They've done this before, and as you may have realized, this type of information helps them determine system requirements for future games. A few people have already speculated that they're testing the waters for another WoW expansion, but I doubt any expansion is that far along in the process yet: my guess is that this latest round of hardware testing is actually being done for final calibration on Starcraft II, due out this fall. Blizzard doesn't share this hardware information with us, but Valve, another company that has a really wide install base with its Steam service, does release regular information about the kinds of computers its games are running on.

There is, of course, another question here: do we really want Blizzard jumping in and taking this information from us? There aren't any obvious reasons to protect this information (most computers will give it up to any Internet-connected application without issue), but you never know: do you really want Blizzard checking out what's on your hard drive or what accessories you've hooked up to your computer? We'd presume that they don't dive into software information (like checking your computer's HD for signs of competing MMO installs), but certainly they could. The list of what they check includes: "CPU, RAM, operating system, video, audio, HD/CD/DVD, and network connection," but we don't know if that's everything or not (the Terms of Use, under "XVIII Acknowledgements" says something similar). And as Blizzard's alert says, while we do get a momentary notification that this information is being sent, users who have merged their Battle.net accounts will no longer even see that flash of a message, even though their info is still being sent. The ToS says Blizzard doesn't have to notify us of the survey, but they have in the past anyway.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Hardware, Account Security

Officers' Quarters: Crushed by the banhammer

Every Monday Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership.

I enjoy the process of leveling as much as anyone else. I like the feeling of accomplishment in leveling, and the gradual growth of power that comes with it. Blizzard has given us a variety of tools to speed up the leveling process, including heirloom items and the Recruit-a-Friend service. Even so, I can understand why some players just want to skip to the endgame. To some people, questing on a low-level character is a lot less interesting than raiding or PvPing at the level cap.

In order to skip the leveling process, your options are both limited and dangerous. You could pay a leveling service. However, some of these services are actually scam artists who will use your account info to sell everything you have and take all your stuff. You could ask a friend to log in and level for you. However, sharing your account information can get your account banned. Finally, you could just buy an account. Let's see how that turned out for one particular guild leader.

Hello Scott,

My guild is going through an incredibly rough time right now. Our situation is this: We are one of the best guilds on our server. We have cleared Ulduar in both 10 and 25 man, working on hard modes right now. Our team is rock solid. We have about 35 dedicated, geared, and skilled raiders. We all get along great and have an awesome time raiding. But recently a problem has come up that will undoubtedly destroy our guild and send some of the best players on our server without a home. Our GM had unknowingly violated Blizzard's ToS/ToU and now his account has been banned.

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Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

The Queue: You ain't nothin' but a Core Hound


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky will be your host today.

There's a few good questions today of various voluptuous varieties: raiding, legal ToS (TNG > ToS, by the way), and new gaming hardware. Yummy.

Start me off, Delks...

Edit: Please be sure to listen to Fly Me To The Moon by Ol' Blue Eyes during today's Queue, or you can listen to the title's name sake song.

Delks asked...

"What's the point of running old world raids and instances?"

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Filed under: The Queue

The Queue: Horsewhipping

Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Alex Ziebart will be your host today.

Afternoon, ladies and gents. I have a follow up from yesterday's question regarding casinos, with further information straight from Ancilorn, a Community Representative over in the EU. Hopefully he doesn't end up getting horsewhipped for a fortnight over it like the last few Blue posters that decided to write to us!

Ancilorn says that, essentially, casinos that take an up front entry fee (whether it be gold or items) are against the Terms of Use and will result in action being taken on the casino owner. Casinos and competitions that do not require an upfront fee are legal and legit. Collecting an entry free is the violation here.

Now we know! Thank you very much, Ancilorn. You are my hero.

enthusedii asked...

"When the new Arena season arrives, will the arena points I have currently be reset?"

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, The Queue

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