April 25, 2014

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District Court Ruling in MDY v. Blizzard

Today, an Arizona District Court issued its ruling in the MDY v. Blizzard case, which involves contract, copyright, and DMCA claims. The claims addressed at trial were fairly limited because the Court entered summary judgment on several claims last summer. In-court comments by lawyers suggest that the case is headed toward appeal in the Ninth Circuit. Since I served as an expert witness in the case, I’ll withhold comment in this forum at this time, but readers are free to discuss it.

Comments

  1. Anonymous says:

    I think it is no surprise these other rulings have gone this way.

    It is a shame that when you consider the depth of analysis of case law surrounding the case, when you boil down to the “facts” and analysis of the effect of Gliders/Bots on the game itself the arguements are simplistic and horribly flawed.

    Blizzard are the biggest cheats in this, they cheat millions of players daily, many of them minors.

    consider a football game where the referee decides in the second quarter that the pitch is going to be halved in size, the third quarter that team B can have 50% extra points if they have a friend join their team, and 3 minutes before the end of the forth quarter that the scores are going to be reset to 0 and the game extended indefinitely.

    • Anonymous says:

      … wtf?
      How is blizzard cheating millions of players who are paying them to use their product

      a football ref isnt even a relevant comparison… now, if the NFL were to make these changes between games, that would be more realistic, as they are the ones in charge of the rules…

      or do you feel cheated because now you wont be able to break the ToU anymore? =)

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s the dynamic nature of the experience that keeps people paying their 15 bucks a month. And note that in the actual competitions (tournament realms, real world tournament events), the rules are fixed for the duration of the tournament.

    Do the rules in physical sports always stay the same from tournament to tournament and season to season? Hell no, they change to take advantage of new technology, or to inhibit tactics that are deemed either dangerous or in some way against the spirit of the game.

  3. Anonymous says:

    It’s not about the experience or damage or what the rules even are. What matters is that selling software which violates someone’s EULA is illegal, no matter how open-ended or regularly-updated that document is.

    Copyright law doesn’t need malice or even damages. All it needs is the copy. You can replace “evil bot program designed to ruin WoW and kill kittens” with “add-on product that competes with Blizzard’s partner” and you have the exact same copyright issue and the exact same control issue.

    Any effects on the game are immaterial. The key point now is that software developers can use the courts to choose who integrates with their products. Competing with Microsoft’s favorite Outlook toolbar partner? Too bad, your customers are now copyright infringers and you are now a secondary copyright infringer.

    Terrifying, from my perspective.

    • Tel says:

      The court claims that you do not buy a copy of the game, you only license a copy. So walk into a local shop and grab the pack and ask “can I buy this?” and they will say “sure”. The EULA is only visible after the time of sale so the actual act of tendering money was based on the understanding of ownership.

      Not that the court cares, but the commercial software industry is slowly and surely sawing off the branch they are sitting on. Consumers will little by little wake up to how badly they are getting ripped off and then the boycott will begin and it will be far too late to turn around then.

      • Lemming says:

        You’re argument would make perfect sense except for a simple loophole….(I’m holding a WoW battle chest box right now as I type this… well it’s in my lap)

        “The use of this software is subject to the terms of an End User License Agreement avalible at http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/legal/eula.html and all use of the product is subject to the World of Warcraft Terms of Use which you must accept before you can register an account. [...]”

        Do you really think a multi-billion dollar company would be so stupid as to forget a little thing like warning users that the EULA and ToU must be accepted?

        As for boycotts and being ripped off… their sales are up, so I dont think they are worried.

    • John Millington says:

      “All it needs is the copy.” What I get from this, is that it doesn’t even need _that_. The mere output of a computer program (whether copies are made or not, and even if that output is a function of the user’s input), can be subject to DMCA.

      Blizzard holds copyright not _only_ on the WoW code and game data, but they also hold copyright on the experience that results from a _function_ (which, importantly, is a distinctly separate entity from those other two things!) that takes those two things, plus server responses, plus user events, as its input. It’s an idea I find both radical and subtly abstract. If there’s a technological measure that prevents all these things from coming together as a total experience, then bypassing that measure is a DMCA violation.

      I don’t think most laymen would even faintly guess that an experience is BOTH legally distinct from the code that provides that experience, and also just as subject to copyright. You might guess one or the other, but who would have guessed both at the same time?

  4. Curt Sampson says:

    I wonder if one couldn’t turn the DMCA around in situations like this, implement technological measures to prevent WoW’s client from interfering with the bot, and then sue Blizzard if they try to circumvent those measures.

    Anyway, in the long run there are some basic forces working here that are well known: moving ahead in the game can be done by a computer, and it’s only a form of artificial scarcity, i.e., via non-technological measures only humans are allowed to play, that keeps the game what it is. We’ll have to find better solutions for this eventually.

    cjs@cynic.net

  5. Anonymous says:

    The “Satyam and the Inadvertent Web” article page is still truncated. Everything after “tagged: blah blah blah” is missing from that page. On the front page, there is also a bug, involving the same article: the speech-balloon icon and the “n comments” link is missing.

  6. knowledge says:

    This isn’t about an actual copy. In no way does glider copy the WoW program. It doesn’t launch it, it doesn’t do anything to modify it.

    The thing that breaks the copyright apparently is that blizzard says if you run a bthird party program you can’t run their program… thus meaning that launching the client is against the rules. It creates a monopoly and gives too much power to the company.

    This would be exactly the same if Microsoft said, if you use Mozzilla products you void the copyright on windows and all microsoft products. Or blizzard said, in addition to bots you can’t use ventrillo. Hell, they could say that the windows task scheduler is an illegal program. Or, I could make a screen save that says in order to run this you agree to pay me $50,000 if you are running windows…. and because of this ruling that would be perfectly ok.

    Have you guys actually read the EULA? There is so much bullshit in there that I imagine everyone could be held for copyright infringement. Just wait to see what happens when wow starts dying off…

    The ruling of this case is far fetching as soon you’ll see everything as a licensed product, and everyone getting sued for copyright infringement.

    • Anonymous says:

      Ok…you’re an idiot =.=

      Firstly the Glider bot interacts directly with the WoW client. Ventrillo doesn’t. Feel free to actually understand what a bot does before making stupid comments that make you look like an amatuer trying to fake his way through it.

      The definition of a bot that blizzard use says that to qualify as a bot there does not have to be any human interaction with the client aftr activation of the third party program.

      And since you obviously have no clue what so ever about WHY they ban third party softwares like this.

      A) it ruins the economy, massive influxes of materials and gold to the system tends to drive prices through the roof, thus making it harder for newer or more casual players to gain items of high value.

      Next time you want to have a go at pretty much the most successful MMO to date, try actually playing the game first to see why thngs are the way they are instead of mouthing off because you’re totally uneducated in the reasoning of the situation.