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Posts with tag law

Blizzard scores a victory against patent troll Worlds, Inc.

Activision Blizzard has won a victory over Worlds Inc, which has been leveraging its patents on basic virtual world principles -- like the ability to chat with other users in a virtual environment -- to sue MMO companies like Blizzard and Second Life makers Linden Labs. Patent trolling can be big business and, indeed, seems to be the primary business that Worlds Inc is in these days. However, they may be running out of luck in this case, as the latest ruling suggests the patents are invalid because they describe things already in public use before they were filed.

However, this ruling is certainly not the end of the ongoing legal drama involving Worlds, which has lauded the ruling as a clear victory for itself. But with the Supreme Court currently considering whether to take stronger action against patent trolls, which may make it easier for sued companies to recover legal fees from patent trolls (and thus deter these sorts of lawsuits), it may be harder for Worlds to find traction on such lawsuits in the future. We'll have to keep watching to see just what happens between Activision Blizzard and Worlds, but it seems unlikely that they'll manage to recover from this ruling.

If you want all the details, check out the writeup on Gigaom or, if you're fluent in legalese, read the decision yourself.

Filed under: News items

Blizzard wins victory in legal battle over security breach

Blizzard has emerged (mostly) victorious in the case of Bell v. Blizzard Entertainment, which was filed in response to the Battle.net security breach last sumer. Though no financial data was taken, the lawsuit claimed the data breach harmed customers and targeted authenticators, which it said were required for players to have "even minimal protection for their sensitive personal, private, and financial data." From the beginning, Blizzard has said that the suit was without merit, and the court has dismissed 6 of the lawsuit's 8 claims, saying that the plaintiffs failed to to prove that they were harmed by the data breach and that Blizzard did not misrepresent its security practices.

The part of the lawsuit that moves forward relates to Blizzard failing to fully disclose the importance of an authenticator to users, though Blizzard is certain to continue the fight. As in most legal battles, the situation is more complicated than can be explained in a couple of paragraphs: if you're interested in digging further, you can read the full text of the complaint or legal analysis by Mayer-Brown.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Account Security

PAX East 2011: Law In Games panel hits home for WoW

PAX East is home to all sorts of panels and discussion, ranging from sexism in video games to mechanics and motivations in the games we play. Legal issues are present in all things, and video games -- even World of Warcraft -- are no exception. Two of the biggest topics at the panel, hosted by prominent legal minds in the video game industry, were End User License Agreements and damages in game as part of tort law. All in all, it was a very interesting panel of Q&A from some of gaming's smartest minds.

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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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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.

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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

Debunking another hacked authenticator story

One of our readers, Bill, sent us a tip about a WoW account issue on The Consumerist. It seems that the ownership of Anonymous's friend's account is under dispute and Blizzard won't let him use it in the meantime. The ownership became disputed after the account was allegedly hacked, even though there was allegedly a mobile authenticator on the account. His friend has given up on the account, complete with Val'anyr, and has created a new one.

We can't confirm any of the facts in this case. I am willing to believe that Anonymous is truly upset and believes the story he tells to be true, even though he is posting anonymously. There are some serious red flags, however, that seem to point to Anonymous not having all of the facts:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Account Security

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

Blizzard legal targets private servers

Privately run WoW servers have been dropping like flies in the last day or so after receiving letters from Blizzard's lawyers under the DMCA. They've been shut down so quickly and rapidly that it's being heralded as "the end of private servers" by quite a few people. The biggest and most well known servers such as Toxic WoW and Ani-WoW are more or less all gone already, and it seems that it's only a matter of time before the smaller ones go down as well. Supposedly, this letter has a pretty long list of sites and servers that are to be taken down.

Some of these sites have just called it a day, shut down their servers and will move on with their lives, but a few others are already talking about starting them back up elsewhere, 'underground.' It's the internet, and at this point, that just seems silly. Blizzard is watching, and it seems this issue has moved up a notch on their priority list. My advice? Don't tempt fate.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Blizzard wins lawsuit against bot makers

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.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cheats, Blizzard, News items, Account Security

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