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Posts with tag lawsuit

Blizzard against open-sourcing Glider code


It ain't over yet. Blizzard Entertainment, who won a lawsuit against MDY, the makers of the infamous Glider bot program, has asked the ruling court for a permanent injunction that would functionally eliminate the program from WoW. Blizzard has also issued an unconventional request preventing the open-sourcing of the MMO Glider (formerly known as WoW Glider) code and prohibiting MDY from helping other people develop World of Warcraft automation software.

Blizzard's case against MDY has already sparked some debate, and this latest request may catch the attention of open source and digital rights advocates. Blizzard has always taken a hardline stance against users of the program, even banning countless users back in May. Automation is clearly against the EULA, so players who flirt with bot programs such as MMO Glider should proceed at their own risk. A complete coverage of the case between Blizzard and MDY can be found over at Virtually Blind.

Filed under: Cheats, 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.

Read more →

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

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

The possible outcomes of Blizzard's Glider lawsuit

Terra Nova put a quick post up about putting the Blizzard vs. WoW Glider case (and the Public Knowledge amicus brief) in the larger context of whether or not End User License Agreements are "good" or "bad," but even better than the post is the comments section. Lots of MMO heavies, including Richard Bartle, show up to break down just what Blizzard is trying to do with their claim against the botting software, and what they might end up doing to the industry at large.

No one is against Blizzard's goal of trying to stop cheaters. But the way Blizzard is going about it puts their stance in jeopardy -- they're saying that cheating in their MMO is a violation of copyright, and that is a completely different issue. Even Bartle himsef says this is an "ends justify the means" argument -- Blizzard is just using the copyright issue to get the judge to say that cheating is bad. As we posted the other day, Public Knowledge believes that any decision that says "yes, Glider breaks copyright law," could then be used as a precedent for calling any EULA violation a copyright violation.

Adam Hyland, in the Terra Nova thread, has the breakdown of outcomes: either a judge rules completely in favor of MDY/Glider (thus leaving every software maker open to EULA violations -- very unlikely), or a judge rules either narrowly in favor of Blizzard (saying that yes, cheating is wrong, but it's not a copyright issue), or wholly in favor of Blizzard (which Public Knowledge fears the most -- if breaking the EULA is a copyright violation, everyone who names their character XXNoobz0rXX is breaking copyright law). We'll have to see what comes out of this case, and hope that it's for the best for both Blizzard and their players.

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

Interest group speaks up against Blizzard on Glider case

Blizzard's lawsuit against the Glider folks (who were trying to sell a bot that was used to play the game while /afk), has a new wrinkle in it. According to PC Gamer, an interest group called Public Knowledge (they're funded by a variety of creative arts foundations) has filed a brief in the case accusing Blizzard of overstepping their rights under copyright law. In the brief, and an accompanying blog post, they say that while what Glider is doing in-game may be wrong, it isn't actually copyright infringement, because the Glider software doesn't actually infringe on any copyrights that Blizzard holds. And they're worried that if Blizzard wins this case, it could set a precedent strongly in favor of copyright holders, to the point where any misuse of the software at all, from using bots to using the wrong name, would be interpreted instead as copyright infringement.

They kind of have a point here -- Blizzard just used all the tools they had in this case to try and send a clear message to anyone out there trying to sell automation software that what they were doing would get them in trouble, and they may have thrown copyright infringement on the menu when it didn't really belong. For Blizzard's part, they claim that making a copy in RAM of the game's information constitutes copyright infringement, but again, that's only because Glider is misusing those RAM files -- every user everywhere needs to copy parts of the game into RAM in order to run it.

At any rate, Public Knowledge has filed their brief and had their voices heard. It's up to the judges in this case to decide what comes out of it.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items

Blizzard developers are out there

An interesting discussion went on in the Community Service forums yesterday concerning the role Blizzard developers play in those very forums. A poster was obviously attempting to troll and start some argument, asking if the Blizzard devs actually do read what people write or pay attention to the community at large. Kisirani, a Blizzard developer, responded that indeed they do.

A few interesting things came from subsequent blue posts that help outline the roles of the developers and community managers. First, it is the job of the community managers (CMs as we call them) to do just what their title says: manage the community. This includes the forums and everything that goes on in there. Kisirani tells us that they regularly collect feedback and suggestions and pass them along to the developers. Kisirani makes it a point to say that they don't have enough time to read everything themselves, and if they were to read everything the game itself would not be developed – and again, this is where the community managers come into play.

Read more →

Filed under: Odds and ends, Blizzard

Blizzard loses a round in the fight against botting

In Blizzard's attempts to get rid of gold farmers and hackers, one of their most annoyingly persistent enemies has been the WoWGlider bot, now known as MMOGlider. They've been throwing suits and countersuits at each other for a few years now, but the latest salvo seems to have gone against Blizzard, the Game Activist reports. Blizzard was trying to subpoena Joe Thaler, owner of Lavish Software LLC, maker of programs such as EQPlayNice. While Lavish Software's programs do not appear to be cheat programs on their own, they did make a deal with MDY Industries, maker of MMOGlider, to use the programs within MMOGlider.

According the judge's decision, Blizzard was hoping to obtain all documentation related to the deal, all communication between Thaler and Lavish and MDY and its owner, Michael Donnelly. They also wanted a list of all WoW accounts owned by Thaler and Lavish, as well as the contents of the WTF folders of every installation of WOW used by Thaler and Lavish Entertainment. Unfortunately, the Judge ruled that Blizzard was demanding information that could compromise Lavish's trade secrets and client confidentiality, and that the demand for the information within 9 days did not give Thaler and Lavish enough time to respond an gather information.

It's worth noting that the judge did specifically say that Blizzard could file another subpoena that would be more narrow in scope and allow more time for Lavish and Mr. Thaler to respond, so this is probably not a fatal blow to Blizzard by any means. I personally hope not. I've never had much patience for bots, or people who feel they have a civil right to cheat at games, so I'm rooting for the big bad corporation on this one. What about you?

Thanks for the link, Tyrsenus.

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

Activison faces lawsuit, says MMO market is "insurmountable"

Two bits of news about soon to-be-Blizzard's-overlords Activision: first, a group of investors are apparently planning to sue Activision about the whole merger thing, apparently saying that Activision didn't do enough to cash in on the deal. They're complaining that in the deal with Vivendi (Blizzard's owners), Activision settled for an "unfavorable minority poisition." The company hasn't responded yet, but if this lawsuit goes forward, we could find out a whole lot more about the exact terms of the deal between the two companies.

And for their own part, Activision is thrilled to be in the business of Warcraft: Activision CEO Bobby Kotick sees MMOs as an "insurmountable product category," and says that if they were competing with WoW, they'd have to toss at least half a billion to a billion dollars into the deal, and even then they wouldn't be guaranteed success. Which means that at this time, in this market, Kotick says that companies entering into the MMO market are basically throwing money away.

Can't say we're surprised that the CEO of the company that now owns WoW says it's unbeatable, but as you know by now, EA and Funcom (Warhammer Online and Age of Conan's publishers, respectively) surely disagree. We should see who's right by the end of the year.

[Via Incgamers]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items

Blizzard puts Peons4Hire out of work

This is probably the best news I've heard so far all year: Blizzard has won an injunction against Peons4Hire (we'll say their name now), which means that the one-time constant chat spammer is now legally banned from interfering with the game. It sounds like Blizzard sued on nearly all the causes that were speculated on a while ago, and as a result, have outright won their case: according to the injunction, In Game Dollar (the company that advertised Peons4Hire) is "permanently enjoined" from "making any use of the World of Warcraft in-game communication or chat system to advertise any website, business, or commercial endeavor."

Which means, in no uncertain terms, that we'll never see those ingame tells again. The only drawback is that, as Virtually Blind says, this is an injunction, not a decision, and so it doesn't have the "precedential weight" that a decision might-- Blizzard can't really legally use this to walk away with an easy win in the next case that comes along. But over the course of a few different settlements, including stuff happening in other virtual worlds, there is a legal precedent being established against using one company's service without permission to advertise another.

I'm just happy that, after being driven nuts by all that chat spam for so long, Blizzard was able to walk away with a solid victory.

Filed under: Virtual selves, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Making money

Chinese electronics company sues Blizzard over fonts

An electronics company in Beijing has sued Blizzard, claiming that they allegedly used five copyrighted fonts in World of Warcraft. Founder Electronics wants 100 million yuan for the alleged infringement, which is apparently the largest amount ever asked for by a Chinese company in a copyright case (Founder claims the loss cost them 1 billion yuan). The case is sitting in front of the Beijing High People's Court, and the9, which is the Chinese company that runs WoW there, is considering their options.

I'm assuming that means the9's Chinese version of WoW, which would mean the fonts themselves are for Chinese characters, so there's probably no fonts that English-speaking users would recognize ingame. However, Founder is apparently known for creating some of the most popular fonts in China, so the odds that someone at the9 used one of them (or at the very least one that looked like one of them) are probably pretty good (the picture on this post is from a Founder event, not a Blizzard event, so the obvious use of the Founder font there doesn't count). Of course it's up to the High Court to decide whether the infringement actually took place or not-- no word on how long the judgment will take.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items, Add-Ons

Blizzard's legal case against gold spammers

Here's a real interesting commentary about the recent lawsuit Blizzard brought again a fairly heinous gold seller (we haven't mentioned their name yet, and I don't plan to, but it's easy enough to find out who it is). Blizzard hasn't shared much about the case at all, except for the fact that it's filed in federal court, and that they want this one to serve as a precedent, not just for them, but for any MMO dealing with gold spammers.

Cmdrslack (who's a gamer and a lawyer) says there's three ways Blizzard could be handling the case. First, they could be filing under CAN-SPAM law, claiming that even though the in-game mail is never actually leaving Blizzard's servers, it's still illegal spam email (first of all because it doesn't identify itself as advertisement). The second possibility is an much older tort called "trespass to chattels," which means that Blizzard could be saying the gold seller is unduly using their servers, bandwidth, and game properties to advertise their own business. That, says cmdrslack, seems most likely, because there's precedent for it, and Blizzard can easily prove that the spammer has been working on their servers for a while.

Finally, Blizzard could also simply say the spammer is violating the EULA, which they definitely are. More likely, as cmdrslack says, they're using a mix of all three cases to show the spammer is wrongly interfering with their business. (Strangely enough, says Tobold, the one thing Blizzard isn't suing the gold sellers for... is gold selling.) But cmdrslack closes with the same question I will: Seeing as the spammer is based in China, and Blizzard is an American company filing in US Federal Court, just how are they going to enforce the ruling when they win?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, News items, Economy

Class-action lawsuit filed against IGE

Speaking of lawsuits, Terra Nova is reporting that there's been class-action lawsuit filed in Florida against IGE for... well, I'll let you read for yourself:

The case involves IGE's calculated decision to reap substantial profits by knowingly interfering with and substantially impairing the intended use and enjoyment associated with consumer agreements between Blizzard Entertainment and subscribers to its virtual world called World of Warcraft.

The lawsuit seeks both monetary damages and a stop IGE's gold farming activities. (If you just can't get enough legalspeak, you can take a look at the entire text of the lawsuit here, via Terra Nova.) Now, I have to admit that I am not a lawyer and cannot tell you whether this lawsuit has any substance to it. However, I can assure you that over here at WoW Insider we'll be looking for any updates on this -- so we can pass them right on to you.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Economy

Blizzard files lawsuit against gold spammer

We knew Blizzard implemented filters with Patch 2.1 to reduce in-game spam from gold sellers. But we didn't know that they are taking the fight into the real world as well.

Eyonix has reported that Blizzard has filed a lawsuit against one of the gold spammers who have caused us so much in-game grief. If the seller does not stop its in-game spamming of whispers and non-stop in-game mail spam, Blizzard is hauling them to federal court. Yes, that's right, federal court.

And in case you are still getting whispers from gold sellers after the latest patch, Blizzard has a new solution for you. Right click on their name on your chat screen. A list of commands will appear. Click on "Report Spam." This will not only report them automatically to the GMs, it will block all further whispers and mail from that player. No more trying to report intentionally hard to spell names.

Filed under: Odds and ends, Blizzard, News items

Blizzard suing WoWglider creator

I know what you're thinking: haven't I read about this before? You've probably read something similar, but we've moved on to the next phase of ligation: the counter-suit! Back in November MDY Industries, the creators of the automation software WoWglider, was suing Blizzard over an alleged attempt to prevent the distribution of their software. MDY wanted a court to assert their right to create and distribute WoWglider. And now Blizzard is fighting back with a lawsuit of their own. Besides asserting that the sale and promotion of WoWglider violates both the World of Warcraft EULA (end user license agreement, which you re-agree to each time you install a patch) and TOU (terms of use, which you agree to when creating your account), Blizzard claims that...

Blizzard has suffered damage in an amount to be proven at trial, including but not limited to loss of goodwill among WoW users, diversion of Blizzard resources to prevent access by WoWGlider users, loss of revenue from terminated users, and decreased subscription revenue from undetected WoWGlider users.


And Blizzard is asking not only for MDY to stop selling and distributing WoWglider, but also that Blizzard be given all rights and titles to the application, the source code, and all sales information. And while I'm not a lawyer, I think someone just got pwnd by Blizzard's legal department.

If you are a lawyer, or if you just enjoy reading dense pages of text, you may like to see the full text of Blizzard's counter-suit and MDY's initial complaint.

[Thanks, Prissy]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Cheats, Blizzard

286-day-playtime character deleted on Christmas


Whoever writes this blog is saying that his 3/8 Tier 3, full GM, level 60 human Warlock, with over 6,800 hours played, was deleted from his account by means of a stolen password, and on December 25th, no less. He tells a fairly compelling story. He contacted Blizzard as soon as he found his character missing, assuming it was an error on their part; they got back to him and said his password had probably been compromised via a phishing scam. Our protagonist looked back in his email and found a likely candidate from December 23rd that had asked him to "update his credit card info".

Understandably ticked off, and apparently possessing considerable financial resources, he hired an investigative firm to look into the matter and track down whoever had done this to him. (On a side note, why would the scammer want to delete the character? I can see why he'd want to steal the character's gold, but deleting a character is just sadistic.) He now plans on finding a lawyer and suing this scammer for, presumably, whatever he can get out of him (the blogger hopes for prison time, but that seems unlikely to me; however, IANAL).

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Filed under: Cheats, Odds and ends, News items

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