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Posts with tag contract

The Lawbringer: The history of Blizzard and MDY (Glider)

It's a Glider! Sorry, that's as good as the jokes are going to get. Greetings from The Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly look at the intersection between law and the World of Warcraft. I'm a newly minted law school grad acting as your tour guide between bar prep sessions.

In the last two weeks, we looked at the difference between purchases and licenses. This is of vital importance as a major bit of cyberlaw plays out in the Ninth Circuit, namely the next stages of MDY v. Blizzard, Vernor v. Autodesk, and UMG v. Augusto. Today seems like an excellent time to review the case of MDY v. Blizzard, as we've covered the other two a bit. My source for this history will be the excellent collection of files at Justicia.com, which includes all documents filed in the district court of Arizona in this case.

Let's get started!

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The Lawbringer: License v. Purchase -- Sgt. Joe Friday Edition

Welcome to The Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly look at the intersection of law and the World of Warcraft. I'm a recent law school grad acting as your tour guide and trying not to think about the Bar Exam in a few weeks.

Last week's discussion of seems to have left many of y'all rather confused. The occasional hazard of having an idea that is fun to write is discovering that it isn't always as much fun to read, so I apologize for that. This week we'll be skipping the dramatization about License v. Purchase issues to get just the facts, ma'am.

(If you were one of those who really enjoyed last week, you might want to check out my fiction.)

We'll begin by noting that the program of World of Warcraft comes with an End User License Agreement. While vocabulary isn't everything, one has a difficult time arguing that the relationship isn't a license when one has signed a license agreement.

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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.)

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The Lawbringer: Interfering with gold farmers


Welcome to the Lawbringer, your weekly tour of the intersection between law and Warcraft. I am a third year law student specializing in intellectual property law acting as your crossing guard, trying desperately not to get run over myself.

So last week we engaged in some speculation about how WoW might change if Blizzard permitted gold sales. Personally, I think that the damage to the game economy and culture would be far more damaging than any legal issues that might develop, but it's worth noting that legal issues could easily develop. As for the here and now, certain facts about gold selling remain:
  • Gold selling is against the terms of both the North American and European EULA and TOU.
  • Gold selling is performed by a number of companies, many of them located outside the Unites States.
  • Gold sellers acquire their gold through obnoxious farming behaviors and account hacking.
  • Gold sellers exist because of gold buyers.
Given all this, what can we as players do to stop these locusts? The biggest thing is obviously to NOT buy gold. I really don't think this point can be emphasized enough. Beyond that though, we may be able to take advantage of a legal theory known as tortious interference in contract.

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The Lawbringer: Unconscionability

No, no, please, AHHH!!!! I never agreed to this!
Oh yes you did -- see the "Being tortured by random NPCs" clause in your EULA.*
There's no such thi-aieeeee!

So the last two weeks we've talked about some provisions in the End User License Agreement and Terms of Use that you might not have known about. Remember, all your pixels are belong to Blizzard, and Blizzard is in ur raid, banning ur cheaters. Given that, you may be wondering if there is any way for you to get some of those provisions changed while still being allowed to play the game. (Like all addicts we know quitting is not an option.) The answer is "Technically, yes," using a concept called unconscionability. (I have been informed that this concept is far more beloved of crusading law students than practicing lawyers, so I apologize for last week's improper characterization.)

Before we get too far into this idea, I want to make something perfectly clear: your odds of winning a court battle to get a contract provision altered for unconscionability are about the same as successfully raiding Ulduar in blues. Yes, it can be done, but that guild run took insanely skilled players, lots of tries, and an immense amount of luck. In the unconscionability case below, it took an excellent legal team, enough money to finance going to court, and a judge sympathetic to a plaintiff who didn't like his videogame contract.

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Blizzard renews TeliaSonera agreement

Blizzard has renewed their agreement with a company called TeliaSonera to provide bandwidth for them in Europe. They just made a very similar deal with AT&T for the US -- it's the bandwidth that connects their servers to the millions of connections that lead back to your computer as you play World of Warcraft. Paul Sams, Blizzard COO, says they've been pleased with the service, and that the contract renewal was for two years.

It's interesting that we've seen Blizzard keep both of these agreements intact, but we already know that they'll cancel relationships they don't see as working (with the notable example of Netease's takeover in China). Of course, there are tons of factors that go into players' connections (including this server connection as well as your own ISP, your router and computer, and a number of other facilities and stops in between), but it would seem that Blizzard is happy with the way things are going in both the EU and the US with these providers. Of course everyone's personal experiences are different, and we've certainly seen our share of connection issues, but in general, the infrastructure on the networks is in a pretty good place.

[via WorldofWar]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

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