Feb 11, 2009
Amber

Blizzard v. WoWGlider /v. Everyone who breaks a ToS

tuxThe Initial Case
Blizzard Entertainment, creators of the ridiculously popular World of Warcraft MMORPG, are singing praise and patting themselves on the back because of their victory over the creators of WoWGliderBot. WoW Glider was a software that would essentially play your character in the game for you, doing all of the menial tasks like gathering items and killing mobs in order to level.

So Blizzard went on the offensive and, looking for some real life gold, sued the creators of WoWGlider, winning $6 million back in October. However, Blizzard took it a step further and dragged them back to court this last month in a case to determine whether the creators broke the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

Judge finds WoWGlider in Violation of DMCA
Somehow, Arizona Judge David G. Campbell ruled that the WoWGlider software violated the DMCA. Meaning that because they violated the Terms of Service/Use put in place by Blizzard they were infringing their copyright. So even though the program is not at all used to extract Blizzard’s copyrighted material, they have been found to be in violation of their copyright.

The entire concept of this sets a scary precedent now for all software and game companies to sue users that break Terms of Service/Use agreements. Anyone who violates a user license is now technically guilty of copyright infringement.

So, for instance, one of Blizzard’s Terms of Use is related to the creation of usernames. It prohibits any name “that belongs to a popular culture figure, celebrity, or media personality.”

That’s right Britneyspears the level 56 night elf hunter that belongs to 13-year-old Johnny Smith, you are in direct violation of Blizzard’s Terms of Use, THEREFORE, you are circumventing their copyright.

My Thoughts
First of all, I’d like to say screw WoWGlider. For those of us who play MMORPGs, like WoW, there’s nothing more annoying than people who cheat their way through the game. Bots like Glider also have been known to destroy game economies by flooding the trade system with items and gold, causing the collapse of past MMORPGS like Final Fantasy Online and Everquest. Blizzard seems to be one of the few compnaies who has successfully handled these problems.

However, Blizzard going after them through the DMCA is completely absurd and I only hope that this decision will be appealed. I don’t think that many companies would waste the resources going after Johnny Smith or other people who violate the basic ToS but the very fact that they now can is a problem.

If it is upheld, people are going to have to actually read through those long license agreements instead of blindly clicking accept.

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