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The Lawbringer: Mailbag 6.0 and Rogers updates

Pop law abounds in The Lawbringer, your weekly dose of WoW, the law, video games and the MMO genre. Mathew McCurley takes you through the world running parallel to the games we love and enjoy, 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?

Welcome to another exciting edition of The Lawbringer, where your questions about the esoteric topics revolving around WoW and MMOs potentially get answered, usually if the question is compelling. You know the drill -- ask a question, and maybe I can hash it out or at least point you in the right direction to get things under control.

Mailbags are fun, and updates are even more fun. This week, we have a couple of questions from the mailbag and an update to the situation with Rogers Communications up in Canada. Remember back a few months ago, when the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission demanded that Rogers find a way to stop the admitted throttling of World of Warcraft data because it appeared to be peer-to-peer traffic? Well, the Canadian government wants a plan by Tuesday. More on that in a bit. Questions first, yes?

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, The Lawbringer

The Lawbringer: Account management and you

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?

Writing The Lawbringer has taught me a lesson in trends. Over the past few months, specific questions are sent to me in topical batches. Sometimes it is a few emails about selling accounts. Other times, I get four to five emails about account security or compromise. May's email topic of choice was transferring accounts to family members.

Blizzard is very restrictive about what you can and cannot change regarding your account information. On the one hand, it is your account, right? Shouldn't you have ultimate control over the information you provide for the facilitation of a service you pay for? On the other hand, there is a certain degree of problem mitigation that comes with restrictive change. If Blizzard can control certain aspects of what you do with your account and the information it is all filed under, problems can get mitigated before they appear. Today's topic is really all about damage mitigation.

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Filed under: The Lawbringer

Debunking another hacked authenticator story

One of our readers, Bill, sent us a tip about a WoW account issue on The Consumerist. It seems that the ownership of Anonymous's friend's account is under dispute and Blizzard won't let him use it in the meantime. The ownership became disputed after the account was allegedly hacked, even though there was allegedly a mobile authenticator on the account. His friend has given up on the account, complete with Val'anyr, and has created a new one.

We can't confirm any of the facts in this case. I am willing to believe that Anonymous is truly upset and believes the story he tells to be true, even though he is posting anonymously. There are some serious red flags, however, that seem to point to Anonymous not having all of the facts:

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Account Security

Drama Mamas: We hate hate

Dodge the drama and become that player everyone wants in their group with the Drama Mamas. Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are real-life mamas and experienced WoW players -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your server. We're taking your questions at DramaMamas (at) WoW (dot) com.

The other night, one member of a random PUG The Spousal Unit was in announced exactly which bosses would be downed. He stated that any disagreement would cause something on his body to be put into something on your body -- only he used slightly more graphic words. The run was fine, because, though his method of communication was crude, it did convey a strategy that worked.

There are some, however, who are being crude and offensive in the same way that creeps in college libraries reveal themselves to solitary students. These poster children for GIFT (Note: The link for GIFT is not safe for work. But if you are not familiar with Penny Arcade's theory about the internet, you really need to go there.) aren't criminals in the legal sense of the word, but they do have victims and therefore I will call them perps. Who knows what motivates them. Maybe they are troubled teens who have terrible home lives and should be pitied. I don't know and honestly I don't care. I'm too busy spending my sympathy on Haiti to include these jerks in my monkeysphere. And besides, at some point you have to take responsibility for your actions, regardless of how horrible your environment is. This week, we talk about these GIFTed perps.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

The Queue: It's just a game

Welcome back to The Queue, WoW.com's daily Q&A column where the WoW.com team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky be your host today.

I might be wrong with this one, but I think World of Warcraft is just a game. I mean, it's something we all do in our spare time, and have fun with, right?

And it doesn't really matter, because at the end of the day everything is just pixels on the screen.

But maybe I'm off base here, and WoW isn't a game. Maybe it's real. What is real? Is there a spoon? I see dead people.

Retadinman asked...

"Why are draenei hated so much? The "lorelol" retcon wasn't really that big, but since my main character and posting avatar on the Forums (who are the same) are draenei, I get a lot of hate. Why is this?"

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Filed under: The Queue

Music from the MPQs

Want to listen to the music of World of Warcraft without actually playing the game? It's possible -- anyee has posted a quick how-to over on the WoW Livejournal. The music is sitting on your computer in MPQ files, which are a proprietary Blizzard archiving format for their games. But there are a number of MPQ extractors and editors out there (the two recommended are MPQ Extractor for the Mac and MPQ Editor for Windows), so download one of those, use it to break open the MPQ you're looking for, and then find the music you want in that folder. Extract it out, and voila, you've got Warcraft music to listen to whenever you want.

I know what you're saying -- this might be against the Terms of Service. But actually, it's not -- the ToS only mentions "modifying" game files, and since you're simply extracting them from their archives, you're not actually modifying them. Plus, Blizzard actually authorizes the extraction of this music for use in noncommercial machinima, so as long as you use this music and any other assets for personal, noncommercial use, Blizzard has no problem with it. Of course, you'll be stuck listening to the music in bits and pieces designed for looping rather than a snazzy CD set. But if all you want to do is taking a listen to some of the tunes out of game, there you go.

Filed under: Fan stuff, Odds and ends, Blizzard

The Queue: You ain't nothin' but a Core Hound


Welcome back to The Queue, WoW Insider's daily Q&A column where the WoW Insider team answers your questions about the World of Warcraft. Adam Holisky will be your host today.

There's a few good questions today of various voluptuous varieties: raiding, legal ToS (TNG > ToS, by the way), and new gaming hardware. Yummy.

Start me off, Delks...

Edit: Please be sure to listen to Fly Me To The Moon by Ol' Blue Eyes during today's Queue, or you can listen to the title's name sake song.

Delks asked...

"What's the point of running old world raids and instances?"

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Filed under: The Queue

Breakfast Topic: No ifs or bots.

It's not even a question, really. Botting is against the game's TOS. If you're caught doing it, you're going to get banned. In case you hadn't already heard, Blizzard recently dealt the botting program Glider a killing blow in the courts, which should lead to the demise of the program. Whatever your views on it, Blizzard frowns on botting and even here at WoW Insider, most if not all of us are strongly against it.

That said, yesterday's 15 Minutes of Fame was an eye-opener for me. I guess because I'd never viewed botters with much regard I often dismissed them. I've even reported one or two over the past years. But Daedren's interview was actually something to mull over.

If you did bot, what would you bot? All of us have experienced horrible, senseless grinds in the game. Whether it's farming for mats, grinding Honor, completing long quest chains... at some point in playing the World of Warcraft, we've all felt the tedium that can sometimes lead to unsavory (and TOS-breaking) thoughts of hassle-free automation. I'd never do it, but if I did, I'd probably have used it to level from 1-80 -- something I don't particularly enjoy. How about you? Hypothetically, what would you have botted? Or does the thought of bots make you feel all dirty inside?

Filed under: Blizzard, Breakfast Topics

Markee Dragon taken offline, MMOwned moving

We've received an interesting report on the WoW Insider Tip Line today. Two large World of Warcraft hacking and account trading websites, Markee Dragon and MMOwned, are offline.

Article Update:
According to MMOwned, they are moving servers, which is the reason their site is offline for some.

Attempts to reach the sites prove unsuccessful.

This is a good thing for everyone that wants to have a more legitimate gameplay experience in WoW, as both of these sites actively encouraged people to exploit bugs, break the ToS, and do all other sorts of tom-foolery that destroyed the game for legitimate players.

Our tipster mentioned that these sites were taken down in part by action taken by Blizzard, however we don't have any proof of that.

I've selected the angry baby picture for this article, since that's how the exploiters and account traders are feeling right now. Buh-bye.

Filed under: Blizzard, News items

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?

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

SteelSeries WoW mouse dangerous in no uncertain Terms (of Use)

We had an article here not too long ago about the SteelSeries WoW mouse, purportedly das ubermaus, replete with glowing fissures and lookin' all like a Templar helmet. We actually had kind of a hard time finding out just how the mouse performed -- it was advertised months before it came out, and it doesn't appear that many gamers actually got to use the mouse prior to pre-ordering it and did so based on Blizzard's official licensing of the WoW name on the product.

The few that did use it, those that played around with it at BlizzCon, actually reported to us that it felt cheap, flimsy, and about to break. That was a bit disconcerting to read, of course, and it wasn't actually an isolated incident--all of the emails we've received about it thus far have been negative reviews. Folks complained of broken buttons or strange key reassignments with the accompanying software.

Now, our sister site Engadget just released their own impressions on the device and they appear to like it, offering a large size, good weight, and robust software among their list of pros.

The inconsistency in reviews of the product thus far isn't what really bothers me, though. It's the fact that the mouse is a WoW-licensed product that performs functions that are against Blizzard's policies.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Hardware

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.

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

Might as well face it, you're addicted to WoW

A tipster sent in a link to this post about World of Warcraft, specifically, how to force yourself to stop playing it.

I don't know why this made me laugh as hard as it did. For starters, some of the advice is good... I'd encourage you to read a book or take a martial arts class whether or not you're going to play WoW any longer. Books are fun. I sometimes read a book while I play WoW, but I suppose that wouldn't really be what the article is going for.

Part of the problem would be that I don't want to dismiss the article out of hand. After all, "Psychological dependence does not have to be limited only to substances; even activities and behavioral patterns can be considered addictions, if they are harmful, e.g. gambling, Internet use, usage of computers, sex / pornography, eating, self-harm, vandalism or work" according to Wikipedia's article on the subject. I suppose for me it's the 'if they're harmful' qualified that gets me. So far, WoW has given me and some friends some fun times and a chance to do something as a group when we can't all get together in one place, it's allows me to make new friends who live well outside my range, and it's allowed me to work out some frustrations that would otherwise go without venting. So for me at least WoW is a game that I play and a source of fun. Clearly, for some people WoW has become a big part of their social lives. And anything you care about can become an obsession or an addiction.

But still, I cannot help but laugh when I see advice like "burn yourself out by finding ways to cheat...Find a private server to play on" or my personal favorite, "Sabotage your WoW future". I'm kind of surprised the original author didn't feel the need to add "Seal yourself in a lightless vault with only tins of tomato soup for sustenance" or "hire an angry man to break your thumbs if you go near a keyboard'". It just seems so hyperbolic and reactionary that I can't help but be amused by it. The funniest part is when he advises people to play on private servers, warms them that this may get their account banned as it is a violation of Blizzard's ToS, and then later advises people to violate Blizzard's ToS to get their accounts banned. I don't think most players have to go to these extremes, I know I don't play so much that I feel this kind of fear over it.

Have you already begun to construct your WoW-proof bunker?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Humor

The latest in summer jobs for kids


Mowing lawns is so passé, delivering newspapers is totally last year. These days kids have found a new way to make money: selling WoW characters on eBay.

But how, might you ask, can they get around the fact that this is clearly against the TOS? Evidently they are posting disclaimers on their auctions, letting bidders know that they aren't selling the characters (which are the intellectual property of Blizzard,) but are instead selling the time it took to level that character.

In a CNBC segment on the topic, one kid mentioned that he gets around $400 for a level 70 character. He puts his profits right back into the business as any bright entrepreneur would, reinvesting in characters he will then level up again to sell to – you guessed it – Chinese gold farmers. Now, as much as I like the idea of news we have been writing on for weeks getting mainstream coverage, I have to wonder if this disclaimer business isn't just a loophole to get past Blizzard. What do you think? Is it breaking the TOS to sell the characters even with a disclaimer, or is this just a novel workaround enabling kids to make a profit off their play time?

[via Jane Wells]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, WoW Social Conventions, Blizzard

Your favorite WoW Insider posts this month

By a show of hands (and by hands we mean clicks), you've voted on your favorite posts on WoW Insider for the month of March. Here's the list of the top trafficked posts this month:
And to level our fishing skills -- any other posts from this month you particularly enjoyed that you wouldn't want your WoW-loving comrades to miss?

Filed under: Paladin, Instances, Features, The Burning Crusade

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