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Posts with tag legal-gaming

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

The Lawbringer: WoW and the magic circle

Welcome to Lawbringer! Each week we'll dive into the intricacies of law and the World of Warcraft. In the column's introductory edition we look at the magic circle, which isn't just something you summon demons and teleport around in...

Law and Warcraft -- sounds like a crazy mashup. Does this mean I can sue that bear and tree combo that chain pulled HoS to Krystallus then dropped group mid fight to wipe the DPS that had the temerity to suggest maybe the tank shouldn't kite the Maiden through the hallway? (You know who you are.) Get a court order to silence those Anal [Skills to Pay the Bills] spamming pricks in trade chat? Help Marshall Dougan string up those goblin ganking Bloodsail Buccaneer rep grinders for piracy? Get rogues thrown in the Stormwind Stockades for picking Hogger's pocket? Sadly, the answer is no.

Law and Warcraft intersect in far less entertaining and yet much more important ways. Contract law is obviously important with the End User License Agreement and Terms of Use defining our relationship with Blizzard. Copyright concerns come up quite a bit, as after all, the story, code, sights, and sounds of the World of Warcraft are protected by copyright. Computer fraud, regular fraud, and taxation are issues that arise with gold farming/trading (and occasionally gold digging, but that's not so much a problem in WoW.) We've seen recently with several articles that Blizzard has been cooperating with local law enforcement to bring criminals to justice or help resolve the mystery of a runaway teen; privacy law is a huge concern for both players and Blizzard. Conflict resolution is how some of these legal questions are resolved, but that may involve arbitration, lawsuits, a crash course of the American civil justice system, and people like me.

That's right, I'm one of those horrible nasty lawyer types. Well, not quite – I'm in my third and last year of law school, specializing in intellectual property law. Patents, copyrights, and trademarks are what I've studied, and I have a job drafting and prosecuting patents since after all, student loans don't get paid off by playing WoW. If you really want proof of my bona fide law cred, you can read my thirty two page dissertation on gold farming.

But how does one distinguish between a problem that is resolvable with law, such as a privacy concern, and one that is just something we have to live with, like moronic tanks and DPS in the Random Dungeon Finder? Academics, needing to justify their cushy tenure positions, have come up with a concept known as "The Magic Circle."

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

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