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Posts with tag the-lawbringer

Mat McCurley says goodbye to WoW Insider

It's time to say goodbye MY LAST DAY
Well, here we go. This is my last day at WoW Insider, after two and a half years of writing, podcasting, and interacting with one of the greatest communities online. Having the opportunity to write for you and with these wonderful people has been one of the greatest experiences of my life.

I started playing World of Warcraft back in May of 2004 during the closed beta test. My time and tenure in Star Wars: Galaxies was winding down, and Dark Age of Camelot was far in the rearview mirror. None of us knew what World of Warcraft would become or how much the game would influence some of our lives. For me, World of Warcraft represents time, effort, passion, and drive; when every other option available was lacking, uninteresting, or just wrong, I wrote about my passion. I'll never stop playing because I see no reason to stop.

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The Lawbringer: This MMO is too addictive! I'm suing!


Welcome to The Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly guide to the intersection between law and the World of Warcraft. I'm Amy Schley, newly graduated law student and your tour guide through the quirky world of copyrights, contracts and crazy lawsuits.

One of the many joys of going to law school is that you know every lawyer joke known to man, and your friends and family feel a need to inform you of the latest crazy lawsuit. While nothing will ever top Mayo v. Satan and His Staff for sheer silliness (by both plaintiff and judge), a new case making the rounds comes close. Someone is suing an MMORPG for being addictive.

That's right. A Mr. Craig Smallwood, former player of Lineage II, is suing NCsoft for negligently creating an addictive game, for failing to warn him that the game was addictive and for blocking him from the game, causing him to suffer severe withdrawal symptoms that prompted hospitalization and thrice-weekly counseling sessions. More facts and analysis after the break; all information comes from the judge's recent opinion.

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The Lawbringer: A rookie's guide to the EULA


Welcome to the Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly exploration of the intersection of the World of Warcraft and the law. Acting as your tour guide is Amy Schley, just returned from Hell the bar exam.

Hello again! To kick off the return of the Lawbringer, we're going to move into rookie guide territory. Now, I know, I know -- your rogue "High Warlord Pwnyoo" is ready and willing to gank my mains, my alts and even my husband's toons for calling you a rookie. But by a show of hands, how many of you have actually read the EULA instead of just scrolling down to the bottom to click "Accept"?

Given the paucity of hands raised out there, I figure it's time for a rookie's guide to the End User License Agreement.

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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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The Lawbringer: Scope of copyrights


Welcome to the Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly look at the intersection of law and the World of Warcraft. I'm a newly minted J.D. acting as your crossing guard.

Greetings from the other side of graduation! The sun is shining, tons of Cataclysm spoilers await and now I don't have to arrange my WoW-ing and writing around my study schedule. Given that, it's time to get back into our examination of copyright law.

Two weeks ago, we looked at what can get a copyright, namely: literary works; musical works and accompanying words; dramatic works and accompanying music; pantomimes and choreography; pictorial, graphical and sculptural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; sound recordings; and architectural works. But knowing what can be covered by a copyright doesn't explain what a copyright gives an author.

A copyright is actually a bundle of separate rights:
  1. right to make copies
  2. right to distribute copies
  3. right to create derivative works
  4. right to perform or display
  5. right to anticircumvention of the measures taken to prevent copying
  6. moral rights, including rights of attribution and the right to avoid mutilation

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The Lawbringer: Copyrights and WoW

Welcome to The Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly tour of the intersection of law and the World of Warcraft. I am a third-year law student acting as your tour guide (and trying not to get run over, myself).

Greetings! After an unintended hiatus (pesky finals to study for), I'm back and ready to start a new theme here at The Lawbringer. For the last couple months, we've been examining issues of contract law as it relates to the End User License Agreement and Terms of Use to which we as players agree. For the next few months, we'll be examining issues of copyright law as they relate to our favorite world ... of Warcraft.

Before we delve too far, though, I want to note that copyright law is a complex field of law with antecedents dating back 400 years. Add in national constitutions, international treaties and the paradigm shifts in technology in the last 50 years, and you end up with a subject that cannot be compressed into a 1,200-word column or three. If I appear to be skipping over your favorite bit, rest assured, I will probably address it at some point. Join me after the break, where we'll examine the nature of copyright and how it covers our favorite game.

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The Lawbringer: Gold sellers are criminals!


Welcome to The Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly tour of the intersection between law and the World of Warcraft. I'm a third-year law student acting as your crossing guard, trying desperately to avoid getting run over myself.

All our discussions about contract law and the EULA have been dealing with civil law (civil law as in the opposite of criminal law, not the opposite of common law). As has been pointed out before, selling gold is a violation of the Terms of Use and End User License Agreement. What can American courts do to someone who breaches a contract? For that answer, we have to look at the history of merry olde England. Fire up the DeLorean, Marty!

Medieval England (the time period from which law is still recovering) had a bifurcated justice system. If someone had violated a contract, the aggrieved party could sue in a court of law for damages. These damages could be the amount of money necessary to put the victim in the position in which they were before the contract was made. (Example: I promise to mow your lawn, and you pay me $20 ahead of time. I don't mow your lawn; you can sue me for the $20.) Depending on the case, the victim might receive the amount of money necessary to put him in the position in which he would have been had the contract been followed. (Example: same scenario, except not only do I have to pay you back the $20, I have to pay $20 to get someone else to mow the yard.) This is just fine when a problem can be resolved with money.

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The Lawbringer: Kids and Contracts

Welcome to The Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly visit to the intersection of law and the World of Warcraft. I am a third year law student acting as your crossing guard and trying not to get run over myself.

For this week, we'll turn to my mailbag:
I've turned 18 and am on an account my father WAS paying for. Is there any way without having the Ban Hammer brought down on me for me to have exclusive rights to the account? Because I'm pretty sure my father does not play and never really has. Thanks- Tom
Tom's situation is not that unusual, but before we get into his question, I feel the need to reiterate something: I am not a lawyer. While I do appreciate the fact that I'm likely the closest thing to a lawyer that many of y'all feel comfortable contacting, I can't help you with real legal problems. That's a little no-no known as practicing law without a license; doing so could make me ineligible for the bar exam. And let me tell you, I do not want to end up with a loan bill bigger than my parents' mortgage without the piece of paper necessary to pay that debt off. I can tell you what the EULA and TOU says, what the current law is, what policies Blizzard has in place, but I can't tell you what you should do.

(I also feel compelled to note that I am female. For those wishing to accuse me of blind loyalty to Blizzard: if I were a fanboy, the byline would read Gregory Rummel.)

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The Lawbringer: Interfering with gold farmers


Welcome to the Lawbringer, your weekly tour of the intersection between law and Warcraft. I am a third year law student specializing in intellectual property law acting as your crossing guard, trying desperately not to get run over myself.

So last week we engaged in some speculation about how WoW might change if Blizzard permitted gold sales. Personally, I think that the damage to the game economy and culture would be far more damaging than any legal issues that might develop, but it's worth noting that legal issues could easily develop. As for the here and now, certain facts about gold selling remain:
  • Gold selling is against the terms of both the North American and European EULA and TOU.
  • Gold selling is performed by a number of companies, many of them located outside the Unites States.
  • Gold sellers acquire their gold through obnoxious farming behaviors and account hacking.
  • Gold sellers exist because of gold buyers.
Given all this, what can we as players do to stop these locusts? The biggest thing is obviously to NOT buy gold. I really don't think this point can be emphasized enough. Beyond that though, we may be able to take advantage of a legal theory known as tortious interference in contract.

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The Lawbringer: Legal gold sales? Not a Blizzard's chance in Hell

Welcome to The Lawbringer, wow.com's weekly feature on the intersection between World of Warcraft and the Law. I am a third year law student acting as your crossing guard and trying not to get run over myself.

As an introduction to our promised discussion on gold farming, I wanted to address an idea that's been circulating in the WoW blogosphere. There has been some talk that Blizzard could solve the problem of gold farming and hacked accounts in one fell swoop by simply selling the gold themselves. It's an attractive idea on its face, as some feel as though Blizzard's current ban on Real Money Transaction for gold ("RMT") is nothing but an ill advised Prohibition. Permit people to buy gold through Blizzard, the argument goes, and the keyloggers, site spoofers, hackers, and spammers will go back to the rock from under which they came, just like the Mafia disappeared after alcohol sales were permitted in 1933. Oh wait...

The obvious problems have been pointed out before, including: rich brats will have more advantages over folks with jobs and bills; inflation will cause Azeroth to resemble Zimbabwe, the Weimar Republic, or -- God forbid -- Norrath; players will be forced to pay up to stay competitive; WoW-clone MMOs will follow Blizzard's lead, leaving players with few refuges from RMT markets; Blizzard devs will be "encouraged" to design the game around acquiring and spending more gold; players who can't remember website names will still think "www.l3g!t-w0rlduvw0wcr@ft-g0ld.c0m" is Blizzard's website and download keyloggers, etc. Some don't believe this parade of horribles is enough to discourage Blizzard from creating this quixotic market. To the doubters, let me add some legal issues that would affect Blizzard and players, namely: property rights, taxation, and investment advice.

Any of that sound like improvements to you?

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The Lawbringer: Know your (legal) lore

Welcome to The Lawbringer, WoW.com's weekly feature that explores the intersection of the World of Warcraft and the law. I am a third year law student acting as the crossing guard at this intersection, trying to avoid getting run over myself.

Last week, I promised we'd examine European contract law. Silly me, I was thinking that this would be a matter of snooping through Wikipedia, checking a few books out from the local law library, and banging out a short sweet informative column.

Remember that feeling when you first leave Northshire Abbey or Red Cloud Mesa and you realize there's a whole wide World of Warcraft out there? That has been this week's experience in learning about European contract law. While I would love to explain all the cool things I've learned, that would take a book, not a 1200 word column. I'll cut this material down to manageable chunks. This week, we'll be limiting ourselves to a discussion of how the two systems of law impact how WoW will be treated under each one.

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