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Posts with tag wow-lawbringer

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: 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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The Lawbringer: Unconscionability

No, no, please, AHHH!!!! I never agreed to this!
Oh yes you did -- see the "Being tortured by random NPCs" clause in your EULA.*
There's no such thi-aieeeee!

So the last two weeks we've talked about some provisions in the End User License Agreement and Terms of Use that you might not have known about. Remember, all your pixels are belong to Blizzard, and Blizzard is in ur raid, banning ur cheaters. Given that, you may be wondering if there is any way for you to get some of those provisions changed while still being allowed to play the game. (Like all addicts we know quitting is not an option.) The answer is "Technically, yes," using a concept called unconscionability. (I have been informed that this concept is far more beloved of crusading law students than practicing lawyers, so I apologize for last week's improper characterization.)

Before we get too far into this idea, I want to make something perfectly clear: your odds of winning a court battle to get a contract provision altered for unconscionability are about the same as successfully raiding Ulduar in blues. Yes, it can be done, but that guild run took insanely skilled players, lots of tries, and an immense amount of luck. In the unconscionability case below, it took an excellent legal team, enough money to finance going to court, and a judge sympathetic to a plaintiff who didn't like his videogame contract.

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