Skip to Content

WoW Insider has the latest on the Mists of Pandaria!

Posts with tag copyright

Officers' Quarters: Charter pirates

A pirate fires cannons
Every Monday, Scott Andrews contributes Officers' Quarters, a column about the ins and outs of guild leadership. He is the author of The Guild Leader's Handbook.

I never thought I'd be writing an OQ column about intellectual property, but here we are:

Hi Scott,

I'll make this short and to the point, because I'm honestly at the end of my rope with just how disrespectful, inconsiderate, and shady some folks who play this game are.

Without going into too much detail, we removed some folks from our guild a few weeks ago; they tried to poach our members and couldn't, so they ended up stealing our charter instead.

I found out because I noticed them advertising in trade chat, so I scoped their website out. Lo and behold, there were MY words I worked so dutifully on, for many hours, over the course of a few weeks, with my co-GM and other officers. This charter was the result of almost a year's worth of questions, concerns, comments, and experiences we all have shared since forming our guild, and to see another guild just blatantly rip it off was infuriating.

Read more →

Filed under: Officers' Quarters (Guild Leadership)

The Lawbringer: Mailbag 2.0

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?

I love getting emails with questions in them! Incidentally, people also love mailbags. Right? Right? Of course you do. Also, based on my images, can you tell that I've been leveling through Grizzly Hills?

After the last two weeks of gold selling/hacking and crazy currency discussions, I found my email littered with questions that I had neglected. At the end of last month I also ran a mailbag feature, but some of these questions were so fun and provoking that I had to answer them publicly. One interesting thing about legal questions and answers is that you're obviously not getting the whole answer, because there are a million and one factors that go into questions and answers in the legal world. Rather, you're getting the beginnings of a concept that you might want to further your knowledge of. Fun times! Learning is fun! Let's learn together.

If you have a question for the column, please email me at mat@wowinsider.com, and include a subject with "Lawbringer Question" or something easily categorized/sorted like that!

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: The trouble with fan fiction


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?

Finally, I return home after a bit of bliss. Fun is over -- it's time to get serious by talking about fan fiction. Sort of. You see, fan fiction is one of those areas that people love to hate, hate to love and everything in between. What is it about fan fiction that gets people so upset and so defensive? Is it the personal nature of the craft, the accusatory piggy-backing on other people's characters, or just that so much of it is mind-numbingly terrible? Who knows? Today, we're going to explore a few of the concepts of fan fiction in a very no-nonsense, barely legal way, to give you aspiring authors something to consider while writing your own fan fiction or even original content.

With my post-vacation bliss now completely out of my system, thanks to reading so much terrible fan fiction in preparation, I am happy to share with all of you a story that I've been writing for the last minute and a half. Don't be cruel, now. It's pretty much going to become the greatest story ever told. Enjoy.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

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!

Read more →

Filed under: The Lawbringer

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.

Read more →

Filed under: The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Purchase vs. License cage match

Welcome to The Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly tour of the intersection between law and the World of Warcraft. I am a new law school grad, acting as your crossing guard.

Ladies and gentlemen, gnomes of all ages, welcome to THE CAGE! In our first corner, we have the provider of countless yachts to copyright lawyers, with the power of the contract, the big bad himself, the License! And in our second corner, it's the plucky defender of consumers' property rights, the champion of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, the curse of the big bads everywhere -- let's give a big welcome to the Purchase! Now let's go to Bob for tonight's rules.

The rules of tonight's fight are simple, Jim. These two contenders are fighting over who best describes World of Warcraft players' relationship to Blizzard. There will be three rounds, during which each fighter will present a case to persuade our judges. After three rounds of presentations, our judges will decide who really embodies the relationship between Blizzard and its customers.

Why is this so important, Bob?

Well, Jim, a license can contain pretty much any rights, but the EULA for a piece of entertainment software with a subscription like World of Warcraft is going to only give the bare minimum of what Blizzard is willing to allow. They can't be too stingy, or they'll go down like Linden Labs to an unconscionability claim, but they're much more worried about protecting their interests than allowing the customers to get all licentious.

Licentious, Bob?

Read a book, Jim. Anyway, if plucky little Purchase wins, then players get to be subject to the firmly defined laws instead of a mushy, Blizzard-defined license. The law regarding copyrighted copies allows them to make backup copies, get first sale doctrine protection and not be subject to copyright law for breaking the rules defined in the EULA.

Read more →

Filed under: The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Scope of copyrights


Welcome to the Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly look at the intersection of law and the World of Warcraft. I'm a newly minted J.D. acting as your crossing guard.

Greetings from the other side of graduation! The sun is shining, tons of Cataclysm spoilers await and now I don't have to arrange my WoW-ing and writing around my study schedule. Given that, it's time to get back into our examination of copyright law.

Two weeks ago, we looked at what can get a copyright, namely: literary works; musical works and accompanying words; dramatic works and accompanying music; pantomimes and choreography; pictorial, graphical and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings; and architectural works. But knowing what can be covered by a copyright doesn't explain what a copyright gives an author.

A copyright is actually a bundle of separate rights:
  1. right to make copies
  2. right to distribute copies
  3. right to create derivative works
  4. right to perform or display
  5. right to anticircumvention of the measures taken to prevent copying
  6. moral rights, including rights of attribution and the right to avoid mutilation

Read more →

Filed under: The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Copyrights and WoW

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

Greetings! After an unintended hiatus (pesky finals to study for), I'm back and ready to start a new theme here at The Lawbringer. For the last couple months, we've been examining issues of contract law as it relates to the End User License Agreement and Terms of Use to which we as players agree. For the next few months, we'll be examining issues of copyright law as they relate to our favorite world ... of Warcraft.

Before we delve too far, though, I want to note that copyright law is a complex field of law with antecedents dating back 400 years. Add in national constitutions, international treaties and the paradigm shifts in technology in the last 50 years, and you end up with a subject that cannot be compressed into a 1,200-word column or three. If I appear to be skipping over your favorite bit, rest assured, I will probably address it at some point. Join me after the break, where we'll examine the nature of copyright and how it covers our favorite game.

Read more →

Filed under: The Lawbringer

Blizzard and The9 fined $212,000 for copyright infringement in China

From Worlds in Motion we've learned that Blizzard has suffered yet another setback in China.

As reported by JLM Pacific Epoch, the Beijing Municipal Higher People's Court has found that The9, Blizzard's onetime partner in China violated the copyrights of five Chinese fonts owned by Founder Technology Group. The9, Blizzard, and two other parties have been ordered to pay a fine of RMB 1.45 million, or approximately US$ 212,000. The9 has appealed the order to the People's Supreme Court. (Lovely place by the way. Just watch the steps.)

To recap, Blizzard had licensed World of Warcraft to The9 to distribute the game in China. Apparently, in localizing the game for China, The9 used five fonts for the Chinese text in game. However, these fonts are owned by Founder Technology Group, who sued The9 and Blizzard for copyright infringement in 2007, requesting damages of RMB 100M, or about US$ 13M. In September 2007, when The Burning Crusade was released in China, all of the Founder Technology Group fonts were replaced with fonts that Blizzard had permission to use "as a gesture of goodwill to the gaming community" "without any admission of liability."

Given the rocky relationship between The9 and Blizzard, it is likely that this fine will be yet another bone of contention between the companies and that responsibility for this fine may end up being decided in yet another court battle. Stay tuned!

Filed under: News items, The Lawbringer

Blizzard legal censures Shakes and Fidget

First the legal crackdown on fan-made iPhone apps, and now this: German-based webcomic Shakes and Fidget, a longtime sight in our Sunday Morning Funnies column, has apparently been smacked with a cease-and-desist by Blizzard. Our German isn't that great (and we've reached out to the comic's creators for further comment), but a translation of this forum page tells us that Activision-Blizzard's legal department suggested to them that there was enough similarity between the official game and the unofficial comic to cause a problem, and while they believe that they're covered under parody laws, they decided to take the "offending" comics offline anyway, and are apparently currently working on editing them so that they can be put back up without any issues.

Obviously, since the comics are offline, we have no idea what material Blizzard objected to -- you could argue that depictions of certain gear created by Blizzard artists in the game or specific names are under trademark and thus could be protected under copyright law. But even then, Shakes and Fidget is one of many, many fan-made webcomics to obviously depict World of Warcraft and Blizzard-designed items specific to the game, and we haven't yet heard of any other webcomics that have been approached in this way.

Still, as they might say in Germany, wir riechen eine ratte. Without knowing the exact nature of the comics that Blizzard had an issue with, this seems like a complete overreach on their part, especially considering that it's some of their biggest fans who are making these comics, and that many artists have portrayed many videogames in webcomics without anyone confusing the issue of whether they were official or not. We'll keep an eye out for more information (and we've also contacted Blizzard for comment) -- if you know of any other webcomics or fan artists who've been approached by Blizzard in this way, definitely let us know.

Thanks, Henry!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Comics, Fan art

Blizzard sends a C&D to Warcraft Characters, other iPhone apps

The good news here: Blizzard may be planning to do more with the iPhone. The bad news: they're apparently trying to squelch useful iPhone apps that are out there right now. They've already sent out cease-and-desist orders to two Warcraft-related iPhone apps that were charging money (Armory Browser and the Warcraft Arena Calculator), and now we've heard from its creator that Warcraft Characters has gotten the C&D treatment as well (here's his post on the subject, though his site appears to be down at the moment). Just before he was set to announce the alpha of the 3.0 version of the app, Blizzard dropped him legal notice to stop distrbution. As of this writing, however, the app is still on the App Store, so get it while you can. Warcraft Chest and WoWTalent appear to still be available on the store as well, and WoWTalent is still charging 99 cents.

For whatever reason, it appears Blizzard is going after even free programs released on the iPhone that use their information from the Armory. We're not quite sure why -- an optimist might guess that they're planning to release an Armory app of their own on the iPhone, or they're worried that people might confuse the official iPhone app with one that's unofficial. Or maybe they're just being cautious of their copyrights, though that's a pretty harsh assessment -- there are other MMOs who surivive and thrive off of unofficial iPhone and desktop apps.

It would be a real shame if Blizzard legal was simply going after fans who have invested a lot of time and effort into these apps even when there's no clear reason for them to do so. Clearing the field for an official app is one thing, but closing down a useful product for your players built solely by your fans just to erase a perceived threat is entirely another.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Add-Ons, Hardware

The Glider outcome and copyright law

Well, as you may have heard, Blizzard has all but finished off Glider -- pending one more appeal (which doesn't seem likely to win), Glider is getting shut down for good next week. Good news for Blizzard, but not so good for copyfighters? Blizzard used a controversial argument for copyright in its case -- they claimed that by circumventing the ToS, the Glider folks were actually breaking copyright law, and an interest group called Public Knowledge didn't take kindly to that. They argued that a decision for Blizzard would mean that any software developer could then prevent any customer from doing anything they didn't want to do, just by calling it a copyright infrigement. Blizzard responded that "buying" your WoW software was actually "licensing" it, but of course that didn't settle anyone down.

And now, Glider has lost -- so what next?

Read more →

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

Warcraft Orc art on European ghost train ride


Paul sent us this picture (thanks!) he saw on a ride at a traveling fair -- he doesn't say where he's from, but he does play on the EU realms, so we imagine this to be somewhere in the gypsy country of France (France has some gypsy country, right?), in among the carnies and popcorn. As you can see, it's everyone's favorite Warcraft image, "repurposed" into a scary ghost train ride. And if you click to embiggen the photo, you can see that it's not just Thrall on the sign. Apparently ghost train ride artists aren't scared by a little thing like copyright law.

Of course, while non-Warcraft players would probably see a sign like that and think it's gross or scary, we know the truth: Thrall's a loveable badass. He's the guy you elected the supreme leader of Azeroth by a huge margin, so using him on a ride that's supposed to be scary kind of defeats the purpose. While most might leave that ride screaming in fear, we'll probably just leave it screaming, "For the Horde!"

Update: I'm told that the art is not of Thrall but is instead Grom, something that has shaken me to the very foundations of the day I first bought Warcraft III. I always thought it was Thrall on the box cover. Oh well.

Also, I apologize to Paul, our French readers, and the gypsies of the European continent. Paul didn't say where he saw this ride, and my overactive imagination pushed me to envision a traveling gypsy camp somewhere in the wilds of France. I meant no offense -- in fact, even though I'm a lifelong American (Midwestern, even), I feel a kinship with the traveling gypsies of the old country. That's probably why I thought it was them.

Filed under: Horde, Orcs, Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Humor, Bosses, NPCs

Warcraft III's Orc appears on fireworks


What better way to celebrate the Fourth of July today than to sit outside with some good beer, some tasty BBQ, and a whole lot of cheaply made fireworks? Brom and Seku on the Llane server were kind enough to send us this picture they took of a firework they found at a store in Pittsburg, Kansas -- apparently the "Behemoth," made by the Consumer Fireworks company in China, not only "emits showers of sparks," it also blows copyright law completely out of the water. Very nice.

One more gigantic pic of the Behemoth and its Warcraft III orc cover art after the jump. If you do use fireworks (or break copyright law) today, do it safely, and have a great holiday!

Gallery: Orc Fireworks

Read more →

Filed under: Orcs, Items, Events, Odds and ends, Blizzard

Blizzard responds to Public Knowledge about WoW Glider

As we've been posting on WoW Insider, Blizzard is entangled in a lawsuit with the makers of WoW Glider, a bot program that is against WoW's terms of service. And there's been a wrinkle in the case -- an advocacy group called Public Knowledge has filed an amicus brief in the lawsuit arguing for Glider, and saying that if Blizzard wins this case, it could set a precedent for copyright law that would make any copying of a computer program (including the simple act of copying it for an install to the hard drive) be illegal at the IP owner's will. That's unacceptable, says Public Knowledge, so even though they agree that Glider may be against the ToS, they don't think Blizzard should win the case.

And now Blizzard has responded to Public Knowledge, and their argument isn't all that new. They claim that when you "buy" your WoW software, you don't actually own it -- you're just "licensing" it to use it on your computer. This is an argument that's long been used by copyright owners to claim that end users don't have the right to hack or otherwise modify their software, and it opens up a whole other can of worms, not least of which is that Blizzard is claiming if Glider wins this case, then all software "sales" ever really will give end users the ability to hack or modify it at will (something that a company like Microsoft, with their Windows OS, wouldn't want to happen).

As we've said before, there are a few ways this case could pan out, and it's likely that it won't end with either of the doomsday scenarios that Blizzard and Public Knowledge are describing -- the court could still rule narrowly in favor of Blizzard, stopping Glider but staying away from the other messes brought up here. Oral arguments in the case started this week -- we'll keep an eye on what happens next.

[via Massively]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, News items

Around Azeroth

Around Azeroth

Featured Galleries

It came from the Blog: Occupy Orgrimmar
Midsummer Flamefest 2013
Running of the Orphans 2013
World of Warcraft Tattoos
HearthStone Sample Cards
HearthStone Concept Art
Yaks
It came from the Blog: Lunar Lunacy 2013
Art of Blizzard Gallery Opening

 

Categories

Joystiq

Massively

Engadget