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Posts with tag private-servers

The Lawbringer: A primer on private servers


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?

The history of private MMO servers goes back to the heyday of the massively multiplayer, when the concepts of these virtual worlds were still in their formative stages. World of Warcraft private servers, also called emulated servers, boast numbers in the thousands, usually running off donations and providing a limited amount of the full WoW experience due to the nature of the reverse server engineering and implementation needed to run the game. One thing is for certain, though: Using the game client to connect to an emulated server is against the World of Warcraft EULA and cuts into Blizzard's profits.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

Private server company forced to pay Blizzard $88 million

A judge in the California Central District Court ruled Thursday that Scapegaming, also known as Alyson Reeves, has lost its lawsuit against Blizzard. Scapegaming had set up private Blizzard servers that included a microtransactions market. Blizzard sued them in October 2009 for copyright infringement.

As we've covered here before, private servers are a violation of license limitations of the EULA. Blizzard considers any violation of those license limitations to be copyright infringement and sues people for such. Furthermore, Blizzard established in the "Bnetd" case that crafting software to set up a private server is a copyright infringement all on its own.

The total reward of $88,594,589 comes from $3,053,339 of inappropriate profits, $63,600 of attorney's fees, and $85,478,600 of statutory damages. Statutory damages are damages required by law that are increased for willful and commercially based infringement. Scapegaming may appeal the amount.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Blizzard files lawsuit against private server

We've talked about private servers on the site here before, but in case you haven't heard the term: they're unofficial servers, very much against WoW's Terms of Use, that are run by companies other than Blizzard. They're shady as get out -- some make you pay (and these are not people you'd ever want to give any credit card information to), some will delete or change characters on a regular basis, and many times they're created just so whoever's running them can mess around with GM powers, and cheat with any items they want.

So you can see why Blizzard would want them shut down, and that's exactly what they're trying to do with this lawsuit filed in the California Central District Court against a company called "Scapegaming" that runs at least one private WoW server (and they've apparently been running microtransactions in-game -- selling in-game items for "donations" of money). The law firm working for Blizzard, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal, also worked on the "Bnetd" case, which was another piece of unofficial server software that allowed players to play off of Blizzard's Battle.net setup.

The complaint lists copyright infringement as the cause, which means they're probably using the same argument targeted at other private servers in the past. We'll keep an eye on this, but it's very likely Blizzard will win this one unopposed, and Scapegaming (or at least just their WoW server) will get shut down for good.

Thanks, Phenom!

Filed under: Realm Status, Blizzard, News items, Hardware

An official server for South Africa

Here's an interesting post from what looks like a site in Zaire wondering if Blizzard will ever bring World of Warcraft to South Africa. It's true -- we all take it for granted that here in North America and Europe, the game is available, but in many parts of the world, it's not. And apparently there's a market in a place like South Africa -- Blizzard says they have about five to seven thousand players down there already (we'd assume they're playing on EU or US servers), and that probably doesn't count any of the players on private servers, which could be as many as 20,000.

iGame is a division of an ISP called iBurst down there, and they say they're prepared to run an official server (within 24 hours' notice!) if Blizzard gives the OK, but Blizzard has told them that they need at least 40,000 players in the area to make it worth running an official server.

There's another option called a "peering" server, which apparently does hook up to Blizzard's servers, but uses local connections and networks to make things a little faster. But again, Blizzard needs to assent to that, and it seems like they're hesitant at the moment.

Oceanic realms have had issues for a long time, but at least the players there do have a chunk of servers dedicated to them. Are there any other major places in the world that don't have official WoW support yet? South America? India?

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

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.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Blizzard, Breakfast Topics

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