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Posts with tag legal

Glider down for the count

We knew this would happen after that last big Glider decision, but the judge's ruling has turned into action, and Glider has suspended their sales and operations. They're still hoping to bring it back up at some point -- there's still an appeals process to go through -- but that seems unlikely. Keep in mind that using Glider or any other botting software like it is a breach of Blizzard's terms of service and will most likely get you banned from the game.

The company also has a FAQ up (which includes a PDF link to the latest ruling), and they sound hopeful there as well, saying that they'll know in a little while whether they'll be "back within a month or... gone for at least a year." Just in case you have (against Blizzard's rules) purchased and used Glider and are concerned that your information is being passed on to Blizzard, worry not -- they say that the ruling doesn't require them to give up any sales information, just shut down their operations and sales of the program.

As Blizzard posted last month, they see this as a clear victory for both the company and players of the game -- Glider undermined both the wishes of the designers and the experience of other players in the game. Blizzard apparently feels the battle is over, while we're sure Glider is planning to continue the legal fight for as long as it takes. It seems unlikely that we'll see this software (or any bot software) back up for sale legitimately again, but if we do, we'll let you know.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Tricks, Blizzard, News items, Hardware

Legal action between ZAM and Curse results in dismissal


So remember when Curse introduced their database last year called WoWDB, and we pointed out that it bore a strong resemblance to that other popular WoW database, Wowhead? Turns out ZAM, the owners of Wowhead after the acquisition a little while ago, agreed: completely under the radar last May, they filed a lawsuit for copyright infringment to the tune of no less than $1.5 million. ZAM says in the suit, copies of which we've obtained, that they've "expended substantial resources to maintain, update, and promote use of the WOWHEAD website so that it would become... one of the most recognized, and utilized websites designed to attract individuals" who play World of Warcraft. They claimed that WoWDB stole their look and layout purposely to create confusion among customers. This story wasn't reported in the WoW community at the time -- we hadn't heard about it at all until now.

And then, in January of this year, the case was dismissed completely by a judge. We've also seen a copy of the order for dismissal, and from what it says, both sides wanted out: "Pursuant to the parties' stipulation for dismissal, the court hereby dismisses the above-captioned action without prejudice." We don't have any information, however, why the case was suddenly dismissed, but there may have been an agreement made between the two parties -- either money changed hands or WoWDB offered to change its look (as you can see, there's still many similarities between the two sites). Or, as a third option, ZAM just decided it wasn't worth fighting -- according to the comments and activity on both sites, WoWDB doesn't seem to be a serious threat to Wowhead.

We've contacted both sides for comment, and we'll let you know if we hear anything from either one. On the front of it, this looks like ZAM was merely covering themselves -- they filed suit just in case, but never found cause to follow through. But there may be some other agreement between these two companies that lead to the case's dismissal.

Filed under: Items, Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Economy

WoW still on store shelves in Australia

Our good friend Tateru Nino (who is in fact an Aussie herself) has a followup over at Massively about the report that World of Warcraft was no longer legally available in Oz earlier this week. The issue isn't in the rules -- those are the same: unclassified games like World of Warcraft are held to the same rules as banned games -- but in the lack of enforcement. Since the issue has gone public, stores are continuing to sell the game (though some have removed larger sale displays of the games), and law enforcement has made no moves to try and get the games off of store shelves.

The real problem here, of course, isn't that Australia wants to ban these games, but that they're falling through the cracks of what seems to be an extremely lax rating system. There's really no rating assigned to these games, so according to the rules, they can't be sold. But the rules make no sense in this case: no one, as far as we've heard, actually wants to ban these games in the country, and no one cares whether they're being sold on store shelves or not.

Still, Massively does expect action, eventually, even if it's an apparently much-needed rejiggering of the ratings system to include these "unrated" games. Bottom line right now is that if you want to buy or sell World of Warcraft in Australia, no one's stopping you from doing so.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Economy, Expansions, Making money, Wrath of the Lich King

Blizzard responds to the Glider decision

Blizzard (via Nethaera) has released a nice long statement on the Glider outcome over on the forums. She basically runs through the history of the case and why Blizzard is against what Glider is doing, and why going through the courts was the only route left to them. She says that Warden (though called only "security measures") was enabled in response to player concerns about bots, and that when the MDY/Glider people circumvented Warden, their only recourse was to seek an injunction through the courts, which, as we've reported recently, they plan to have soon.

She does say that Blizzard won based on the judge's decision that MDY did violate the Digital Millenium Copyright Act, but Neth doesn't go any further into the issue, and doesn't elaborate at all on what might happen if this case is used as a precedent against other types of Terms of Use violations. As you might expect from an official Blizzard telling of the tale, the case is seen as a victory for Blizzard and their players -- for them, it's all about keeping bots out of Azeroth, and this decision will definitely help them do that.

And that's obviously not a bad thing -- most players will agree that MDY was allowing players to cheat (by letting the game play automatically without them in control), and thus preventing the client from being used in-game is a good thing. It's just that DMCA issue that might be a nagging problem -- we'll have to see what happens with that in the future.

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

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

YouPlayorWePay under "reconstruction"


This could be the end of the strange story of YouPlayorWePay.com -- or a new beginning. We posted about the site when it first appeared, and even interviewed the founders, but apparently they've decided to make some major adjustments to the site, as it's now down for "reconstruction." A forum post by George Tung says that they are not only redesigning the site, but "re-doing our whole concept." One of our tipsters suggests that Blizzard legal may have gotten involved, but that seems unlikely -- Tung also posts that "when we are done, there will not be any more concerns about our service not being worth or if what we are doing is legal."

So there you have it. We'll have to see what they've got in store for us (though, of course, there's a chance the site may not return at all). Lots of people have had questions and concerns about the concept behind this site from the beginning, and we remain curious to see how this "reconstruction" will answer them.

Thanks to everyone who sent this in!

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Realm Status, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Making money

Breakfast Topic: Are private servers really that bad?

Blizzard has a very clear line on private servers: they are against the rules. If you have one or play on one you're going to get in trouble. Your account will get shut down and you'll likely face some legal issues if you don't capitulate to their demands.

However is their stance right? Are private servers really that big of a deal?

There are two ways that I look at the issue. One way is to view the issue through the lens of morality and legalese. In this respect Blizzard is on solid ground. They own Warcraft and all the associated games, and they own the servers we play on. When we buy the game we're not buying the property. We're buying the right to use the property as long as we keep paying a monthly fee, and as long as we operate within their guidelines (the terms of service).

Some might contend that there is an innate right to privacy in the fact that after we've purchased the game (and its associated data), Blizzard has no right to tell us what to do with it or to find out how we're using it. I'm not a lawyer, but some are, and there's an interesting debate to be had here.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics

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 C&Ds iPhone Armory app


Blizzard has been hiring mobile developers for a little while now, and we might finally be getting a hint as to why. Theoria, the developer of Armory Browser, recently received a cease and desist letter from Blizzard legal, and will therefore be suspending development on the program, and pulling its distribution on Monday the 25th. Armory Browser is a $0.99 app for viewing Armory profiles on the iPhone/iPod Touch. The interesting part is that it contains all original artwork – nothing taken from Blizz – and, as the author puts it, is "basically a fancy web browser." So why should Blizzard bother putting a stop to it, when it doesn't really infringe?

Well, maybe they're writing their own. Legions of WoW fans would certainly love to have a little bit of the game to carry around in their pockets, whether it's mobile auctions or just an Armory viewer. I've certainly installed an Armory viewing app already, and I just got my iPhone three days ago. Anyway, the only way I can make sense out of Blizzard bothering to put a stop to this little development project is if they want their own software to be the only iPhone Armory browser out there. Or it could also be because they don't like someone else making money off their game – $0.99 isn't much, but it's something, and as far as I know the free Warcraft Characters app is still in the clear. I prefer to believe it's a sign of a Blizzard iPhone project in the works, though.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

WotLK Wiki is back in action

Don't count the WotLK Wiki out yet -- after going down late last week due to a suspected cease-and-desist order from Blizzard's lawyers (now confirmed), they have returned with a completely different host and all the information from the leaked Alpha they were originally hosting. They say that their original wiki hosts, Wikidot, were extremely supportive on both the traffic and legal fronts, as they upgraded their servers just to keep the site up, and originally did help with legal troubles. When Vivendi Universal took legal action against their ISP, however, Wikidot had to fold, and the wiki has now moved hosts to wotlkwiki.info.

Last week, there was also mention that the C&D didn't ask them to remove all information, only "over-the-line" info, such as screenshots or video. But apparently that clause doesn't apply to the new host -- there are still screenshots all over the site, and though Vivendi has pulled video from YouTube before, it's still there as well.

Of course, any C&D sent to the old site would still apply to the new one -- it's just a question now of whether the wiki's new host will comply with Vivendi's demands (the wiki's creators sound very sure that they won't). And after that, it'll be up to Vivendi to determine how far they want to take this -- if they really feel that having this leaked information on that site has hurt them in a justifable way, there is a possibility that an actual lawsuit could be issued, and if this escalates even further, the two parties could eventually end up in court. As always, we'll be watching to see what happenes.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Odds and ends, Blizzard, Classes, Talents, Wrath of the Lich King

Blizzard deals Alpha leak site a potential killing blow


The Wrath of the Lich King Information Wiki, the primary source of leaked information from the friends & family Alpha, is currently not hosting any information on its site. Reports say that the WotLK Wiki team has been served a Cease & Desist order by Blizzard's legal team and given stringent restrictions on hosting Alpha information. A brief message on the site explained how the site administrators were contacted by a legal firm. The issue dealt with a few key points, such as the site referring to themselves as the "Official WotLK Alpha Wiki" despite not being endorsed by Blizzard; not having a copyright on any of the information, necessitating the inclusion of a copyright line to the main pages; and an order to remove all of what Blizzard considered "over-the-line" content such as leaked screenshots.

The WotLK Information Wiki formerly had detailed information on the spells and abilities of the new hero class, the Death Knight, as well as new 51-point talents for most classes. It also hosted and updated a copy of the latest build of the Alpha client, and showed previews of numerous models in the expansion such as speculated vanity pets and armor sets. None of this information is currently available, although the site's message states that they are "having a little trouble" and "hopefully will be back shortly". The current refuge of Alpha-hungry players are in an IRC channel called #wotlkwiki in irc.mmoforge.org, where the header cryptically (or not-so-cryptically) states that "THE MEN IN SUITS, THEY TOOK THE WIKI ON VACATION TODAY. Might return tonight."

If the Alpha wiki team succeeds in conforming (or going around) the rules laid by the intellectual property firm, it might return to serve up information sometime soon. We'll keep a close eye on these developments; whatever happens, we've learned that it's tough to keep a good secret from getting out.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items, Wrath of the Lich King, Rumors

[1.Local]: Readers speak their minds


[1.Local] serves up a smattering of reader comments from the past week, from the sublime to the ridiculous.

Improving the gaming process seemed to be top of mind for many readers this week. A number of threads saw a flurry of suggestions about ways players handle current game mechanics and wish lists for improvements they'd like to see in the future. We touched on Armorying PuGgers, retooling old content versus adding more mid-level content, the state of bleeding-edge guild membership and the sometimes weighty demands of being a tank. We chewed the fat over just how serious matters of WoW are to us ... and never one to shirk matters of fashion, we considered footwear options for WoW players and Hello Kitty fans alike.

Be sure to dive into the comments area of each thread (not this one!) and add your own thoughts – unlike your mama, we like us some hot, fresh backtalk.

Read more →

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Interviews, [1.Local]

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

Curse's terms of use deserve a closer look

There's a storm brewing over in the UI & Macros forum, and it's about the terms of use for popular add-on site Curse. If you use mods at all, you're almost certainly aware of the site; I go there all the time. They're probably the biggest mod site right now. So it comes as something of a surprise to me that such a pillar of the scene would have what seems to be a pretty abusive set of terms service.

According to the analysis conducted in this forum thread, Curse's ToU "specifically removes any and all copyright that we as authors have on our addons." Yikes!

There are other bad parts of the ToU language too, including that Curse can change the ToU at any time without notifying authors. Of course, the site is within its rights to impose any ToU it wants on the users, but it's not nice to take control of creations out of authors' hands. I am not a lawyer, so it's altogether possible that I'm interpreting some of this incorrectly. The forum thread, however, claims that lawyers looked at Curse's terms and agreed that the interpretation is correct.

Until these provisions are changed -- and Curse promises that they will be -- I recommend mod authors use other sites like WoWInterface or wowui.incgamers.com. In writing this article I read the terms of use for those sites -- or rather, tried to. IncGamers doesn't even have their ToU up! But they've been a pretty well-behaved site in the past (they used to be worldofwar.net), so I trust them. WoWInterface's terms of service didn't seem to have anything like what Curse has, and a source at the site assured me that "we never touch an author's zip file without their knowledge and consent, ever." WI has a good history of respecting the community and the authors. Curse folks, are we all reading this wrong? Is there something in this issue that's being missed?

Update: As several of Curse's employees have helpfully pointed out to me, the new ToU are much better. However, I still have reservations about them.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Add-Ons

Blizzard outlines 'acceptable use' for machinima

One of the things that I learned last weekend at Dragon*Con was a great deal more about machinima than I'd ever really known before. Sure, I've got FRAPS, and I've tried to make cool music videos too. Then I realized that I'd need something more interesting than my Tauren Druid running around to my favorite Rush song. So my dreams of making machinima went by the wayside, best left to the machinimators with that little thing called "talent."

One of the things that I always wondered about was just precisely what you could and couldn't get away with in regards to making films using World of Warcraft. After all, the characters on my account are Blizzard's IP. I could argue about not being paid for it, but I've always been curious about the larger legal issues involved.

Blizzard has finally put out what they consider to be their acceptable use policies in regards to machinima created using Blizzard's IP. After listening to the talk that Matt Kelland and Clint Hackleman gave during the Machinima 101 panel at Dragon*Con, I'm pretty happy to see that Blizzard has taken such a step to reach out to the community. This open letter lets artists know they have the potential ability to get licenses to show their work, and just how much commercial "sponsorship" is acceptable. It also defines where many of the boundaries are (for example their edict that movie/video content remain consistent with World of Warcraft's "T" rating) that I feel will hopefully help to clear some things up on where the artists stand in all of this legally.

For those of you who are budding machinimators, check out Blizzard's open letter. It's fairly straightforward reading, and they've gone so far as to put a contact email address in for specific concerns not outlined in their letter. With these guidelines in hand, hopefully artists will feel free to go in even more creative directions in the future.

[via Hugh "Nomad" Hancock, author of Machinima for Dummies]

Filed under: Machinima, Blizzard, News items

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