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Blizzard Rains on Bnetd Project 771

Posted by michael
from the yellow-rain dept.
Sir Homer writes: "Blizzard Entertainment has shut down the bnetd project using the DMCA, as declared in their site. The bnetd project is a battle.net server emulator licenced under the GNU/GPL originally for Linux and also works on most Unix variants. Project details can be found on this freshmeat.net page." As I understood it, bnetd was a complete re-implementation of battle.net, so it isn't clear what copyright violation Blizzard alleges occurred. Note to bnetd: under the DMCA, you can file a counter-notice with the hosting provider asserting that Blizzard was wrong.
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Blizzard Rains on Bnetd Project

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  • by Rev. Null (127972) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:30PM (#3041634)
    You guys make some great games. I've had countless hours of fun with the Diablos, the Warcrafts, and Starcraft. Now I'll never buy any of your products again. Bye.
  • Re:Boycott (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Cruciform (42896) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:37PM (#3041694) Homepage
    Would sniffing packets be counter to the DMCA?
    I'm no coder, but I would assume that you could find most of the information you need to send and receive in the packets if you analyze it long enough. Can someone in the know elaborate on how they did it, and why it's counter to the DMCA?

    It's nice that we don't have that dumbass law up here (Canuck land), but then US lawmakers have no problems foisting such laws against friendly countries, so really none of us are safe.
  • by crisco (4669) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:39PM (#3041702) Homepage
    to YRO, any bets whether it gets double posted to /. twice?

    Seriously though, this only happened when someone warezed the WarcraftIII beta and modified it to work with BNetD, creating an 'open' beta test. This obviously infuriated Blizzard into having the BNetD project shut down. A shame too, since it doesn't cost them anything to have quite a few more of their fans playing the beta.

  • samba (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:43PM (#3041722)
    Isn't bnetd essential the same thing as SAMBA? Both seem to serve the same purpose, does that mean that SAMBA could be shut down under the same threat from Microsoft?
  • by YuppieScum (1096) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:46PM (#3041734) Journal
    Blizzard is the same company that incorporated SPY-WARE into StarCraft, and when called on it their response was akin to "Oh, you caught us... we'll take it out now, honest."

    That didn't stop me buying Diablo II a while later, but after this I sure as sh!t won't be buying anything from them again...
  • by alsta (9424) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:46PM (#3041736)
    Please excuse me, but:

    "But using the DMCA is just so obviously Wrong... it's practically immoral."

    I thought that the DMCA was immoral to start with. IANAL, but they could very well pull this off. And it could be worse than you might think.

    The battle.net servers store CD keys in some fashion to prevent multiple uses of the same key. In doing so, they can and probably will, claim that it is a copy protection device. You know, the kind that is illegal to circumvent, or provide means of circumvention to others, under the DMCA.

    Enter bnetd. This is a GPL project which can be run by anybody, anywhere. Now these CD keys don't have to be checked, because the server might not require that. Hence paving way for your local lan party, using one CD key. Very much a circumvention of a protective device, if their device is what I described earlier.

    Now, the real motive is why Blizzard may be trying to do this. Sales may be one issue, but it is still going to be fairely limited to people who know what they're doing. The more feasible version is probably that they're looking to charge an access fee for battle.net. The bnetd project would make a huge dent in such efforts, if not strike it down.

    Here's the good part about that. If the bnetd people can reasonably prove that Blizzard acted in bad faith, the case may be dismissed.

    But then again, IANAL.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:52PM (#3041762)
    "I've never heard of a company shutting down a utility on the grounds that it enables more people to use their product."

    You haven't? How about any companies that don't like it when their programs are transimitted gratis to others who didn't pay for them AND authentication schemes meant to protect the product from unlicensed use rendered useless?

  • Packet Dumps (Score:2, Interesting)

    by protektor (63514) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @10:52PM (#3041763)
    Packet dumps of what is going on between the client and the server were exactly how the protocols for connecting to the servers were done I believe. I have several of the packet dump files here that people sent in to various of the developers to help fix bugs and figure out how things were suppose to be done.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @11:07PM (#3041830)
    They are actually upset about people using the W3 beta that aren't beta testers using bnetd. However the bnetd project they shut down does not support warcraft 3. There were huge flame wars about this is thier forums because they were afraid it would promote piracy and refused to implment it.

    However if you are interested in warcraft 3 support those sites have not been shut down (ironically). Being an Open Source project means that the users were free to do it themselves. And that they did!

    http://www.madgrfx.com/warforge.html
    http://www .clan519.com/

    Those sites even offer serial numbers and stuff!
  • please see: (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CTho9305 (264265) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @11:10PM (#3041846) Homepage
    if this [slashdot.org] is in fact the case, I musta gree with blizzard. Even though the DMCA has many bad uses, this would be a good use IMHO. Unfortunately, the RIAA could cite a good use like this as evidence of its "good"-ness
  • by moebius_4d (26199) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @11:23PM (#3041915) Journal
    Subject: DMCA action => no more customer
    From: [my email address]
    Date: 20 Feb 2002 22:16:13 -0500
    To: Rod Rigole

    Dear Mr. Rigole:

    Blizzard has had good success in parting me from my money. I have half a
    shelf of the fine games your company has produced. However, that era is
    over. Your ridiculous and short-sighted attack on the bnetd project,
    claiming that the creation of a program that interfaces with your
    somehow infringes on your copyright, may successfully stop that
    interesting effort. Regardless of its success, it has cost you my
    business forever, and you may rest assured that I will bring to the
    attention of anyone soliciting my views of what to purchase your
    company's bad behavior.

    In an industry where some companies, like iD and Sierra, find great
    success in opening their flagship products for interoperability with
    customer-designed modifications, and even release old source code as a
    learning resource for the larger community, your company has decided
    that preventing enthusiasts from working with your products somehow
    protects you. What it will protect you from is getting any more of my
    money.

    Sincerely,

    [signature]
  • by Heironymus Coward (548839) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @11:28PM (#3041931) Homepage
    and also, vivendi universal is a member of the MPAA, which is attempting to punish people for using DeCSS... and which also believes that the cd/dvd region system is a completely ethical way of doing business...
  • by sameb (532621) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @11:33PM (#3041954) Homepage
    A copy of WarcraftIII beta fell into my hands. I found a bnetd server, and played the game. To my surprise, I -really- liked it. I've never played any RTS games before, but this was really good, and I seriously considered buying the game because I had the chance to see just how good it was.

    Now that the server is probably going to be shut down, I won't become hooked, and I'll go back to playing Unreal.

    Blizzard should seriously reconsider this move. It stops a lot of potential buyers from seeing the game. bnetd won't make them lose any sales -- people who were going to buy the game will still buy it. People who are going to get a crack will still get a crack. People who wanted a chance to see before they buy... well... bye-bye.

    Oh well, saves me money.

    Sam
  • by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @11:36PM (#3041964)
    > They claim the problem is that bnetd doesn't have the CD-KEY anti-piracy that their servers have.

    This raises some obvious questions:

    a) If bnetd did have the cd-key anti-piracy implimented, would Blizzard allow bnetd to exist?

    b) Would Blizzard offerer any source, or binaries (.lib, .dll) to authenticate CD-KEYs ?
  • by MindStalker (22827) <mindstalkerNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @11:43PM (#3042025) Journal
    What I'm hoping, is this was the work of some late night lawyer working there.
    Wishful scene.
    Blizzard guys come to work in the morning, read all the emails. Fire lawyer, say WOW this BNET thing, thats great, now we can release a public beta intended to run on servers other than battle.net and we don't have to worry about overloading the server. Yay! Call up the presses!

    Sorry just a dream! (I'd have to buy 5 copies of WC3 then, just on principle)
  • by markb (6556) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @11:48PM (#3042074) Journal
    Actually, it was the SPA that sent me the cease and desist e-mail. I exchanged a few e-mails with the SPA lawyer until he didn't respond any more. The Slashdot story is here:

    http://slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=older/980411091 225 [slashdot.org]

    I imagine the publicity that the Slashdot story generated was what convinced the SPA and Blizzard to back off. Maybe it will work again this time.

    Anyway, I'm somewhat amused to be a certified DMCA criminal! ;)

  • by Jeremi (14640) on Wednesday February 20, 2002 @11:54PM (#3042125) Homepage
    Writing a letter, sealing it in an envelope, purchasing postage, and mailing the letter means infinately more


    Does it? I've written a few letters to my legislators, and with one partial I have had no indication that my letters were ever opened, much less read. For all I know, they are stilling sitting in anthrax quarantine somewhere, or were thrown out unopened. Realistically, the best I can hope for is that some intern scanned the first paragraph of the letter for keywords, pressed a "tally one against the DMCA" button on his computer, and threw the letter away. Can someone offer me evidence to the contrary? I'd love to see my cynicism refuted by someone's experiences to the contrary... :^/


    Essentially I feel like I have no say in my government's decisions, because I'm not rich enough to buy influence through campaign contributions. And even if I did have enough money to buy influence, I hardly think that is the way a democracy is supposed to work. Time to move to Canada?

  • by tweakt (325224) on Thursday February 21, 2002 @12:44AM (#3042438) Homepage
    FREE STANDARD GAME SERVER

    Check out FSGS, it's available for windows and linux and works great. I tested it at a lan party, we played 4 or 5 8-player starcraft games with it on the local LAN using TCP/IP!! (NO MORE IPX!!!).

    It works for westwood games too (Red Alert, etc).

    FSGS [fsgs.net]

  • Re:The only solution (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rbeattie (43187) <russ@russellbeattie.com> on Thursday February 21, 2002 @12:46AM (#3042453) Homepage
    You're an idiot.

    You boycott something by not buying the product and then actively telling your friends and relatives not to buy it either. Whenever you hear people mention the name, you go into litanies about the company and don't shut up until whoever is listening to you agrees not to buy the product either. You post to message boards, you bug your local merchant, you do what you need to do to get your message across. Maybe you'll be lucky and get someone in the press to notice and then the word will spread even more.

    3000 people know a lot of people. It's a networking effect.

    -Russ
  • by Spameroni (158440) on Thursday February 21, 2002 @01:14AM (#3042583)
    The reason that Blizzard is forcing them to stop work on bnetd is because the bnetd people have ground the bnet servers to a halt trying to reverse engineer them. It's reasonable to want fast speeds for users who want to play, rather than remake Blizzard's server systems. In the past month or so, all the people trying to reverse engineer battlenet have basically ground the entire system to a halt, making it essentially unuseable for those who wish to play.

    That is why Blizzard is pursueing them -- this is not a cause worth a boycott!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2002 @09:51AM (#3044138)
    The problem is that the serial number doesn't actually guarantee legitimacy or copy protection. All it does is to prevent several copies with the same serial number being played online at once. There is no guarantee that this means that the person playing with a particular serial number is the legitimate owner of the copy that bore that number.

    At best, Blizzard could argue that it reduced the value of pirated copies by meaning that they could not be guaranteed online play. But the counter-argument would be that playing on a bnetd server has reduced value as opposed to the official Blizzard server anyway, because of the lesser number of players available.

    The problem is that this is becoming a common trick for making protocols proprietary; include copy protection in them, and then say that a) they won't tell you how to make the copy protection work (that would nullify its use); b) if you design it to not include the copy protection you broke the DMCA, and c) same thing if you re-engineer the copy protection.

    I recall Real used it as well, suing a company for making a third-party player which did not respect the 'No Record' flag - while at once refusing to tell that company how to actually detect the 'No Record' flag in a stream, even though the third-party did actually state that if Real told them they would add it to their player.
  • by Dyolf Knip (165446) on Thursday February 21, 2002 @01:04PM (#3045349) Homepage
    Wait a minute! The DMCA shouldn't apply at all in this case!

    They claim that bnetd is a copy protection circumvention device. Namely, that it allows you to play without a unique CD-key, i.e., a pirated copy. Problem is, the only thing the copy protection does is prohibit access to Blizzard's Battlenet. It doesn't keep you from playing single or multiplayer games at all. Bnetd is only a circumvention device if the people using it gain access to Battlenet where they otherwise wouldn't. That is not the case.

    It's like claiming a left-handed catcher's mitt is a circumvention device because people who use it won't be using the right-handed version to play baseball, ignoring the fact that you can still play without either.

  • Find a technical fix (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dmmjr (182944) on Thursday February 21, 2002 @01:55PM (#3045808) Homepage
    As I understand it, the clients will send their IDs to bnetd, but bnetd has no way to verify whether they are valid or not. So what if bnetd were to just forward each client ID to battle.net and await validation before letting that client join the bnetd network? You'd be stuck with an initial roundtrip to battle.net for each client, but afterwards the play could proceed independently.

    Even if this is not technically possible right now, battle.net has an obligation to consider supporting low-impact measures like this that preserve their rights without trampling on other noninfringing uses. The courts are there to decide disputes when the parties can't agree, but this dispute seems pretty easy to deal with.

    So, it's an unwelcome development, but if the bnetd developers decide to spend some time now trying to work with battle.net to find a technical fix, it's time well spent. In particular, the courts are not going to be sympathetic to battle.net if a straightforward solution were proposed but then ignored by battle.net.
  • by Tyriel (560688) on Thursday February 21, 2002 @02:58PM (#3046369) Homepage
    Speaking as someone who's been involved in the bnetD project (though not in the center of it), I should probably point out a couple things, on the offchance someone hasn't mentioned them already. Typhoon and Mysticales are working on a legal response (possibly in line with the helpful link [harvard.edu] the original poster made). In any event, the project isn't going anywhere. Some people in these threads support Blizzard or at least think they have a case, so please let me address that. The specific complaints Blizzard lists in their note are:
    The aforementioned site either hosts or distributes software which illegally modifies and/or alters Blizzard Entertainment copyrighted software or bypasses anti-circumvention technology, thereby infringing upon Blizzard Entertainment copyrights.
    Let's run down the list there.
    • Modifies or alters Blizzard software. Nope, it's entirely independent. Users choose to connect of their own accord, by their own means. We only run our own software.
    • Bypasses anti-circumvention technology. What, the CDkey system for Blizzard games? We don't enable users to pirate software, we only provide gaming servers for people who already own the games.
    Something else to consider. If BnetD violates copyrights, then how about the 15,000 average concurrent users on FSGS [fsgs.net]? Anyone remember Kali? Surely if Blizzard let those services exist for years upon years, bnetD is no more harmful a precedent. Last, Blizzard ought to rethink their policy of aggression on anyone who tries to enhance the experience for their users (might I mention UltimateBot [ultimatebot.com]). The thousands of users that FSGS claims are NOT hogging the limited bandwidth (or development resources) of the battle.net staff. FSGS, BnetD and any related projects are really helping Blizzard more than they're hurting them. All fans of the project can rest assured that this isn't the last you've heard about BnetD :) Thanks,

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