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Blizzard/Vivendi Files Suit Against Bnetd Project 593

Posted by michael
from the no-good-deed-unpunished dept.
Blizzard's crack legal team, who has earlier tried to rush Bnetd's base, is now busy raining down ice shards on it. Blizzard has filed a lawsuit against Bnetd, listing a variety of causes of action, but read on because the important thing here is that Blizzard is not alleging a DMCA violation, only "traditional" copyright and trademark law violations.

Brief history: Blizzard makes a DMCA complaint against Bnetd, resulting in the temporary downing of the Bnetd website and the Bnetd server code no longer being available for download. EFF decides to represent Bnetd, and they exchange a few letters back and forth. On Friday, Blizzard files suit.

The most interesting thing about the legal claim is that they make no claims under the DMCA. You should recall the distinction between regular copyright law (which prohibits making copies of original works of authorship) and the DMCA (which prohibits making, using or distributing devices intended to circumvent anti-copying protection measures on copyrighted works). Even though Blizzard claimed in their letters that the fact that the Bnetd server doesn't implement CD-checking (which is impossible for them, since it's a secret algorithm known only to Blizzard) makes it a DMCA-violating circumvention device, they didn't raise the claim in the complaint they filed with the court.

Blizzard claims:

  • that Bnetd copied code from Blizzard and incorporated it into Bnetd (how this was accomplished isn't stated; since Blizzard does not make their source code available, presumably the Bnetd people would have to break into Blizzard headquarters).
  • that Bnetd posted screenshots of Blizzard games to their website (this should be deemed fair use by the courts).
  • that Bnetd is engaging in an unauthorized "public performance" of Blizzard's copyrighted material by running a Bnetd server. At least, that's how I parse paragraph 28. Perhaps they're instead making a claim about something that was posted on the Bnetd website, but paras. 28 and 30 read together imply that Blizzard is arguing that anyone who makes software to interoperate with other software over the internet is making a public performance. This would allow Microsoft to shut down anyone who made .NET software, for example, because it will invariably involve a lot of transmission of information that Microsoft can claim is copyrighted.
  • that Bnetd infringes on Blizzard's trademark (an identifier for goods or services that are sold) for "BATTLE.NET" by calling their software "Bnetd", because, after all, "Bnetd" is essentially identical to "BATTLE.NET" (coming next: the makers of the elm email client sue the makers of pine, emacs sues eine [who sues zwei], Unix sues GNU... chaos). That is, people who use Bnetd may be confused because the name is so similar to Battle.net that they think they are actually using a Blizzard product.

People who are offended at Blizzard attacking its fans and customers may want to consider Warlords Battlecry 1 and 2 instead of Warcraft 3. The original Battlecry is selling for $10 these days and is quite good.

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Blizzard/Vivendi Files Suit Against Bnetd Project

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  • by SaxMaster (95691) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:21AM (#3303142)
    Will they use Orc or Human lawyers?
  • by llamalicious (448215) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:24AM (#3303160) Journal
    We hate Blizzard on Mondays.
    ooohhh... shiny things. i like shiny things.
  • by Em Emalb (452530) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <blameme>> on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:26AM (#3303171) Homepage Journal
    There's nothing wrong with our system. Yours is illegal and allows consumers to bypass our detection methods. Once we have shut you down in a court of law, the users will have to use our services....

    Yep, until they (Blizzard) realize that their system is not up to par, and BNETD is actually doing them a favor....and the user base drops/complains so much they have to change it....

    fast forward 1 year..."Damn, it SEEMED like a good idea at the time to get rid of BNETD. Stupid lawyers...."
    • as an exeToys employee... sounds like the eToy/eToys bullsh.t.. fscking stupid lawyers..

      fast forward 1 year..."Damn, it SEEMED like a good idea at the time to try and get rid of etoy. Stupid lawyers...."

      That was one of MANY stupid mistakes by the head assmonkeys of eToys. And yes, they still owe me 5 grand in pay. Over a YEAR since I was let go.. (along with 700 other people..)

      Oh yea.. ext3 sucks ass.
  • Well. . . . (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Com2Kid (142006) <com2kidSPAMLESS@gmail.com> on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:27AM (#3303178) Homepage Journal
    BNETD would likely not have come under fire

    IF A LOT OF KIDDIES DID NOT USE IT TO PLAY THEIR PIRATED VERSIONS OF BLIZZARD GAMES

    Especially true now days with the Warcraft 3 beta (which blizzard is trying VERY hard to keep limited. Not succeeding very well, but they are TRYING hard.)

    Blizzard allows A LOT of stuff to go on with their games, but. . . .

    I think that the solution to this BEFORE HAND was that the computer community, huhrump, should have policed their own.

    Though granted early court rulings in hacking cases kind of makes vigilantism hard to pull off. :(
    • Agreed. Blizzard damn well new about bnetd a long time ago. They didn't do anything about it because, in their eyes, it wasn't doing anything wrong. Blizzard has always been fairly good about letting people use their product. Hell, Warcraft 2 and StarCraft are some of the few LAN games that have copy protection, yet also have explicit provisions made for one person to buy it and play with a few of his buddies. Christ, I've seen War3 beta ISOs on MUSIC ftp sites.
    • Re:Well. . . . (Score:3, Flamebait)

      by daoine (123140)
      IF A LOT OF KIDDIES DID NOT USE IT TO PLAY THEIR PIRATED VERSIONS OF BLIZZARD GAMES

      Thank you.

      I'm not particularly thrilled that Blizzard is attacking bnetd with the cadre of ninja attack lawyers, but what are their other options? They have found a 'single source' which happens to contain an enormous number users who pirated games. They have every right to go after those who did pirate software.

      And, like Metallica did through Napster, they're going for the one thing that all said pirates have in common. Thousands of people doing the same wrong thing doesn't make it necessarily right. It should make people re-examine the definition of wrong and right, but it doesn't make it right by default.

      I'm not so angry at Blizzard as I am the people who are encouraging them to do this. If Blizzard believed that 95% of all players on bnetd actually owned a legit copy, do you think they'd be going after them? Doubtful -- it would destroy their customer base. The people they are going after aren't their customers to begin with...

      • Actually I'd say 95% of them did, untill Warcraft 3. The interesting part about all this, was that someone else took BNets software and changed it to run Warcraft 3. Bnet itself hasn't touched that part of the code. Anyways the cats outta the bag, even if BNET is completly shut down the software is still out there and being moddified by other people. This suit will bring blizzard absolutly nothing. Another point, is that had they released the beta publically very few people would have even heard of BNET I know I didn't untill recently. And very few people would have been playing the cracked final game. Now thousands will, so I say blizzard shot themselves in the foot bigtime and is trying to sue the bullet factory.
      • Blizzard has to protect themselves. If they didn't sue to shut down BNetD, then other places could pop up doing the same things they did. If Blizzard didn't take a legal stand and say 'no', then they'd in effect be saying 'yes'. Then they couldn't defend themselves down the road.

        It sucks for BnetD, and it sucks for the people that like it, but I don't see that Blizzard had a choice. If one of the problems that BnetD gets around is legal copies of games, then they are in effect damaging Blizzard's copy protection scheme. If they didn't file suit, it's possible that somebody who found a way around Blizzard's copy protection scheme couldn't be prosecuted.

      • but what are their other options?

        How about prosecuting the people who actually made illegal copies of the software. The "it's too hard hard for them to do the right thing so let's let them do the abusive thing" just doesn't float. Napster did nothing illegal. Neither has bnetd. If your business model isn't working out, it's your problem. The courts shouldn't be bailing you out.

    • Re:Well. . . . (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      So what your saying is that Microsoft can ALSO be sued.. because their software is used to play pirated games?
    • Re:Well. . . . (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Lonath (249354) on Monday April 08, 2002 @12:00PM (#3303412)
      Pockets in clothing would likely not have come under fire

      IF A LOT OF KIDDIES DID NOT USE THEM TO STEAL CANDY BARS FROM STORES

      Especially true now days with the new GoopyGoop bar (which Hershey's is trying VERY hard to keep limited. Not succeeding very well, but they are TRYING hard.)

      Hershey's allows A LOT of to happen to their candy bars but. . . .

      I think that the solution to this BEFORE HAND was that the parental community, huhrump, should have policed their own.

      I totally agree with you on this. That's why I support the Consumer Banning Pockets and Defeating Thieves Act (CBPDTA) which will outlaw purchase-circumvention devices like pockets.

      Once this law is passed pockets in clothing will be made illegal because it's clear (even though I know nothing about clothing) that their main purpose is to help people steal things and these pockets really have no legitimate purpose besides that that I can see.

      It will be illegal to take new clothing without pockets and sew pockets onto it (even if you think that the clothing industry is selling "crippled" wares and you want to "fix" it to do the things you can do today with clothing), and doing this will be punishable by up to 10 years in prison and 1 million dollars in fines.

      It will also be illegal to tell people how to make pockets, as this would be trafficking in Purchase Circumvention Devices.

      Also, it will be illegal to wear clothing with pockets in public after a certain grace period where grandfathered clothing with pockets is allowed out while the pockets are removed from everything.

      Regardless of whether or not you have become used to pockets in your clothing, you won't have them in the future. The courts and Congress have spoken, and this legal issue is settled: There Will Be No More Pockets In Clothing. Get Over It.

      All of this whining about "fair use" and the "right to carry things around without using my hands" is just the bleating of a few leftie college professors and this entire generation of thieves that have grown up thinking that they don't have to pay for anything. Fortunately, it ends here, and you agitators and terrorists who want to keep your little bombs and guns and candy bars in your pockets will just have to move along with the rest of us, or get trampled in the stampede to the future.

      Of course, you thieves don't think about more than your own little petty desires and needs. Consumers will benefit because clothing will be cheaper since the manufacturers won't have to put those difficult-to-make pockets on their clothes. Consumers will also benefit more because stores will sell more things since they won't have to worry about shoplifting as much.

      The clothing industry will be whining about how the loss of pockets will cause people to start buying their clothing from overseas sweatshops where 8 year-olds work for 3 cents a day instead of buying domestically made clothing with no pockets, but they will just have to adjust to the new legal climate.

      • Bags are not allowed in my collages book store, for precisly this reason.

        And nobody complains.

        Blizzard already allows A TON of freedom with their product, and indeed it is not like they are charging a monthly fee for playing their games online, and their newer games have direct IP address connection built in to them, in all actuality blizzard is working VERY hard to ensure that their customers are treated fairly.

        But in this case it is a few good users with pockets that are just sitting there empty and a whole cadamaran of morons with pocket stuffed full of candy.

        I think that recent events and legislation passed should have made it MORE then obvious that you cannot always directly apply 100% real life physical world law to the internet and that special rules and laws ARE needed for the internet.

        In fact just a few years ago weren't a good deal of /. users asking for that kind of legislation? Ok so we didn't get what we originally planned upon, but at least we can stick to our guns and not make horrid metaphors between the real world and electronic actions.
        • Re:Well. . . . (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Phanatic1a (413374)
          I used to bring my bag into my university bookstore all the time. Yes, they had a policy against it. The very first time they gave me static about it, I informed them that not only was I already forking over $22,000/year to attend the school and did not appreciate the implication that I was a thief, but that if I were not allowed to retain my property as I browsed, I would gladly forego spending additional thousands at the bookstore and instead purchase all my textbooks online.

          I received no further static. 'course, books aren't as shiny as WC3, so I don't expect many people to follow this policy with Blizzard.
        • Re:Well. . . . (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Lonath (249354)
          The problem is that there's no way to separate stopping thieves from stopping me from programming. In truth, all I want is computers so I can sit there and program things that amuse me. Not things that steal things from other people. Not things that hurt other people, and it won't be possible to separate these two things. So, they will be taking away pockets when all I want is something to carry around my change in.

    • IF blizzard was so concerned about keeping the beta closed, they should have done a better job. I eas a tester for a closed beta and they did a good job of making sure it never got leaked. PArt of that was because the game wasn't all that great and wasn't something people are drooling over like WC3 but they also did a good job with the legal end. What happened was that we all got mailed (you know, in the real mail) NDA forms that we had to sign and return before we ever got the software. Then, they put things in each copy of the software to uniquely identify it.

      Was this a little more work? Sure, but since there were only like 1000 of us it really didn't take them all that much additonal effort and it did a good job of making sure that none of us distributed the beta. IF we had, we probably would have gotten sued. We had a signed contract promising that we wouldn't do that. And yes, one of the requirements was o be over 18 so the contracts were binding.

      Not saying the playinf of illegal copies of the WC3 beta is right, but really if Blizzard wanted to keep this under wraps they should have done a better job keeping it that way.
    • That's too bad for Blizzard. I can pirate games using "cp", "mkisofs", "tin" and "ftp" as well. I don't want them going after those programs, either.

      This is like being told that I'm not allowed to measure the dimensions of my car to sew a covering for it, because the car manufacturer sells its own car cover. Fuck that.

    • ...should have policed their own.

      You're a complete and utter troll, but I'll bite anyway.

      The Bnetd team did try to stop the piracy. They asked Blizzard how to implement CD-key checking, but Blizzard told them to fuck off.

      In light of that, what would you have the Bnetd team do? Give up coding Bnetd? Pull it from release? What exactly could they do to "police their own" that they did not already do or try to do, short of abandoning the project?
      • They asked Blizzard how to implement CD-key checking, but Blizzard told them to fuck off.

        Dude, just THINK about that one for a minute now.

        Hmm, now why didn't Blizzard freely TELL THEM some information which could possibly be used, if it got into the wrong hands, to bypass all CD-Checks of Blizzard products. . . . hmm now. . . .

        ::eyes roll out head::

        ::stoops down to pick them up::

        ::blows eyes off::

        ::puts them back in head::

        DUDE THINK ABOUT IT.

        Is BNETD open source? Hell that wouldn't matter, some dickhead would still go through the binary and figure out what was going on and use it to write a nice little TSR that would sit in the background of the users computer and intercept messages across the network in just the right way to royaly FUCK THINGS UP.

        Of friggin course Blizzard denied the request, yeesh.

    • Re:Well. . . . (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Rogerborg (306625)
      • BNETD would likely not have come under fire IF A LOT OF KIDDIES DID NOT USE IT TO PLAY THEIR PIRATED VERSIONS OF BLIZZARD GAMES

      Sorry, I tried to click on your link to the metrics that support that, but it didn't work.

      No... wait... actually, you didn't provide one.

      You're saying that because bnetd isn't under Blizzard's control, it must be used primarily by people with hooky copies. Because, er, it stands to reason, right? There's no other possible reason why you'd use bnetd in preference to Battle.net.

      Other than the lag. And the cloning. And the pkillers. And the unavailability. And the hordes of retarded kiddies on Battle.net (ANY1 WANT TRADE???????). But other than that - ANY1 WANT TRADE??????? - there's no reason. If you want to play on a laggy server, when it suits Blizzard to have it up - ANY1 WANT TRADE??????? - and lose hours of play when it goes down, and trade cloned items - ANY1 WANT TRADE??????? - that vanish the next time you meet someone with a genuine one, or die to a cheap pkiller trick - ANY1 WANT TRADE??????? - that's not been fixed with five line hack since it was discovered a year ago, then - ANY1 WANT TRADE??????? - Battle.net is just fine. Y NO 1 TALK TO ME??????????????

  • uh huh... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by bpb213 (561569)
    after all, "Bnetd" is essentially identical to "BATTLE.NET"
    Oh yes, i can clearly see the similarities - they both use B right?

    that Bnetd posted screenshots of Blizzard games to their website (this should be deemed fair use by the courts).
    End all the game reviews - no more posting beta screenshots to get the masses excited.

    This would allow Microsoft to shut down anyone who made .NET software
    well, i guess that excludes most of us, doesnt it?
    • Re:uh huh... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DCram (459805)
      bpb213 - after all, "Bnetd" is essentially identical to "BATTLE.NET"

      in thecomplaint they state
      "18. blizzard's BATTLE.NET trademark is often reffered to by users as BNET, in shorthand."
      so from this and the point before in using bnetd they are refering to battlenet. kinda weak but if they can prove that the service was called bnet before the bnetd came out then they might have something there.

      the other interesting thing to note is they are not filing a complaint against a coder or anyone else who created the software. Just the people who house it and claime to offer blizzards services, but in closing down the server that houses the software they essentially stop the bnetd service.

      loots of interesting twists and turns in this one. Looks to me like they are trying every way possible to get rid of the problem. The legal eqiv of a zerg rush?

  • This is great! (Score:2, Flamebait)

    by --daz-- (139799)
    Phew, I was worried there that I might have extra functionality and quicker playing of Blizzard games.

    I'm glad now that I'm completely restricted to the buggy, unreliable and slow B.net servers so that I may never again play Starcraft with my brother.

    Remember folks: SUE FIRST, ASK QUESTIONS LATER
  • ...whether I should be pleased they've dropped the silly DMCA crap and are pursuing legitimate claims in the actual case.
  • by MonkeyBot (545313) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:29AM (#3303196)
    Blizzard angers me,
    But Warcraft is like cocaine.
    Love and hate at once.
  • DMCA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PlaysWithMatches (531546) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:29AM (#3303202) Homepage

    the important thing here is that Blizzard is not alleging a DMCA violation, only "traditional" copyright and trademark law violations.

    Of course this is a "traditional" suit. They're not going to blow a shot at a good DMCA precedent on such a weak-as-water case as this. They're going to call upon the DMCA when they're sure they can win.

  • Blizzard (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mxmissile (569819)
    Blizzard is just upset becuase of this [dungeonseige.com]. They have to take their frustrations out on someone.
  • I've played WC3 beta many times, and I hate to see them doing things like this suit, when they have such a great product nearly ready for release.

    Anyway, I'll probably still buy the game. Oh well.
  • /sigh

    Get the source out there. Another DeCSS-like whack-a-mole is ramping up.

  • by sterno (16320) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:34AM (#3303237) Homepage
    Seems like Vivendi's lawyers are really screwing up here. The evidence of a direct violation of copyright is non-existant. The only possible violation from their list that might stand up in court would be if bnetd included battle.net code, and I seriously doubt that this is the case.

    My guess is that Vivendi's lawyers thought that if they fired off a real lawsuit, even if totally unsubstantiated, the bnetd people would back down. We'll see what happens, but since the EFF is already involved I get the sense that the bnetd folks are intending to fight this. So Vivendi is actually risking legitimizing bnetd in the courts.

    • by Kintanon (65528) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:42AM (#3303293) Homepage Journal
      The thing is, there is an almost garauntee that some block of code within Bnetd will resemble some block of code in Blizzards server software in some significant manner, simply because the two programs do the exact same thing. So Blizzard can point to that and say 'See! This whole thing was obviously ripped off from us via illegal hacker tactics and stuff!' and the judge, not knowing any better, is likely to look at the two pieces of paper and agree. The Bnetd lawyers would do well to find an expert witness, preferablly a CS professor from a decent university, who can tesitfy that the two programs have similar code because they perform similar tasks and that doesn't mean one borrowed code from the other.

      Kintanon
      • Copyright law allows for independant creation. Blizard can only limit independant creation of similar code if they have a patent of some sort on it (Or I suppose nowadays if it violates the DMCA). All the bnetd group needs to do is prove that bnetd was created independantly of blizzard's battle.net server and they're all set. From what I've seen of their CVS repository, they'll have no trouble proving that.

        Of cource blizzard could probably get all these guys on licence violations of their products...
        • It's definately a stick place for the Bnetd guys to be. We know they didn't do anything wrong, but it's really hard to prove that you never saw Blizzards code and you came up with everything independant of anything Blizzard might have. Hopefully the bnetd group will come out of it ok, or at least swing a deal to sell their (far superior) server software to Blizzard....

          Kintanon
      • It isn't quite that easy for vivendi. First the burden of proof lies with vivendi, so they have to prove that code was copied, not just that code looks like a different block of code.

        Secondly, if vivendi didn't register the code with the trademark office then the burden of them become much greater.

      • Question: if your code is proprietary, how do you prove that someone ripped off your code? It being so trivial for Blizzard to copy bnetd code, for example, how do they prove that the copying actually happened in the other direction? "We wrote it first! Really! I mean it!"

        Unless some disinterested third party documented and signed off on the code base beforehand, this would seem difficult to do.
      • by BasharTeg (71923) on Monday April 08, 2002 @03:37PM (#3304765) Homepage
        Well, lets see what they actually said, since you have a score of 5 for such amazing insight. You're saying similar code will look similar. Perhaps, but lets see what Blizzard is actually saying.

        24. One instance of Defendants' copying is found by examining the BNETD source code, which is available to the public at Sourceforge.com. On information and belief, in order to provide unfettered access to the BNETD servers for illegitimate users of unauthorized copies of Blizzard programs, Defendants reproduced and incorporated into the BNETD server program the code for Blizzard's proprietary client-side key check software that executes certain login functionality including the First CD Key Check, described above, altering it so as not to perform any CD Key check function. Defendants' copying was so blatant that Defendants included the programming bug described above in the BNETD code. The duplication of such a unique bug in the BNETD code shows wholesale, deliberate and willful copying on the Defendants' part.

        Okay, so they're stating that this bug in their client side CD key check code is very obvious. They're stating that the bug exists in the BNETD code.
        Now, can you explain to us please, in your pseudo-computer science 5 karma hyped perspective, why exactly properly reverse engineered code, which would have to be derived from packet analysis (just like many other video game hax0rs do), would include a code bug that is shared with the original source? A far more likely possibility is that the BNETD people used a disassembler like W32DSM, traced into the code and found the first CD Check, and did a simple literal conversion of the assembly there into some C instructions (thus preserving the bug).

        None of this "someone must have broken into their building and stolen the code" bullshit.
        The source code is right there in the binary, if you know how to view it.

        None of this "similiar code will look the same" bullshit.
        If someone reverse engineers a protocol or cdkey checker through _legit_ means, a bug in the original source code would NOT be copied unless it effected the transmitted results. Since the first CD key check is ENTIRELY client side, it was obviously taken from a disassembled copy of their binary EXE.

        If you are going to do something like that, you can at _least_ try to "cleanroom" the code. Read what the other programmer is doing, write down on paper the math involved in his key generation and validation. Then rewrite your own version from scratch. Using that method *MIGHT* make it legal. But this kind of stupidity is blantant theft of code, and is terribly obvious to anyone with any knowledge of programming, disassembling, cracking, etc.

        I could repeat the claim that if this were copied from Linux, like a certain header file that was copied from FreeBSD way back when (variable names and comments hardly changed!), people would be throwing a fit. But in this instance, the gamers want to play but not pay, so the code theft is not the issue. Blizzard's case isn't entirely about fighting emulation. It's about fighting code theft, and the theft of their game by beating their copyprotection.

        I would have supported BNETD too, if it weren't obvious they stole code.

        • I just looked at the latest CVS code of bnetd and there are no cdkey checking routines in the code. The code for the packet handling has 3 cases in which the cdkey is handled (one for each of the authorization packet versions Blizzard has used). In the oldest auth packet (CLIENT_CDKEY), bnetd merely copies the key into the connection structure it keeps. In the newer two packets (CLIENT_CDKEY2, CLIENT_CDKEY3) the cdkey is hashed and so bnetd ignores it all together. The cd key is never checked by the code that I have seen (and I have worked with it extensively).

          WarCraft III required slightly more elaborate schemes (both of the login packets are encrypted). But, remember that bnetd did not implement these packets.

          Also, based on my experience with the code, none of it feels as if someone had converted it from assembled code removed from a Blizzard game.
        • by barawn (25691) on Monday April 08, 2002 @08:03PM (#3306622) Homepage
          OK, here's the best that can be gleaned from the actual document:

          The "bug" they're talking about is a bug in the login procedure - the "cd key checking" bit doesn't make any sense, as the server doesn't do any checking. So the only thing that makes sense is they're talking about the procedure that the game uses to login to other games (remember battle.net is a passing server, that is, it doesn't actually 'serve' the games) - apparently the games screw up some portion of the login logic, and bnetd copies that as well.

          Unless we're talking about a completely internal bug (which I don't see in the source...) it's gotta be a protocol bug, which would OF COURSE be copied in a clean-room reimplementation of the Battle.net protocol. In fact, if they had done a disassembly of the source, they probably would have recognized the bug and FIXED it.

          Look, I tend to believe bnetd in this case - especially because, remember, innocent before proven guilty - and they say that it was done as a cleanroom implementation. Given that Blizzard has already misinterpreted legal statutes, I find it more likely that Blizzard doesn't understand what reverse engineering is. (It obviously doesn't know what "trademarks" are, or it never would've complained about the screenshots, or the 'bnetd' name!)
    • Consider the following:

      As another poster pointed out, bnetd probably wouldn't have come under fire from blizzard if "a lot of kiddies didn't use [bnetd] to play their pirated copies". If we can agree on that point, and if Blizzard actually loses this thing, then this would completely contrast the precedent that Napster set, which basically only came under fire for the same reasons. With two cases, both fundamentally the same, with one ruling for the plaintiff and another against, how can any fair decisions be made in the future?

      • With two cases, both fundamentally the same, with one ruling for the plaintiff and another against, how can any fair decisions be made in the future?

        In what way is this fundamentally the same?

        * bnetd does not itself pirate software, it merely happens to make it easier to use pirated software for network play;

        * bnetd was not, so far as I am aware, promoted or represented as being a way to use illegitimate copies of Blizzard games, and this was not its primary purpose;

        * The bnetd team never distributed a version of the software that supported Warcraft III (the software that started this);

        * The bnetd team did not (so far as I know) operate a server on which people traded (or, heck, even played) pirated copies of Warcraft III or any other Blizzard game.

        As a not-currently-corporate computer programmer, this lawsuit and the line of thinking that "they had it coming anyway" terrify me; they have the potential to illegalize perfectly legitimate activity simply because it doesn't fit into a corporation's business plan.

        Daniel
    • by po8 (187055)

      Seems like Vivendi's lawyers are really screwing up here...

      I don't see it. It's very inexpensive for Vivendi to file a suit, and the threat might get bnetd to make substantial concessions. If the threat fails, it's easy enough to withdraw or amend the suit at the 11th hour.

      The only possible negative for Vivendi I can see is the bad publicity, but I seriously doubt it's going to impact their sales much. At least negatively: when it comes to publicity, one must always remember Barnum's Adage...

  • I am a fan of warcraft and owned WC2 and look forward to playing wc3 but with this, I think i'm going to have to pass this time and instead try out other similar games.

    Blizzard/vivendi have all the rights to sue entities who they see as encroaching on their rights but this somehow is counterproductive as these are some of their customers and do not even gain monetarily from their endeavors but promote the use of the game.
  • I have a thought. Something that might be very useful is to make some adjustments to the DMCA and copyright law that accomodate for the nature of open source. The fact of the matter is that most open source projects are done by an individual or a small group and do not have the money to fight legal battles. This makes them ripe targets for larger corporations to sue them and get their way since these people can't afford the legal fees.

    So what I'm thinking is that a statue is added that provides the possibility to get legal fees compensated in the even that an open source developer gets taken to court. This way, if the claim is blatantly unjustified, such as in this case, the developer can bring on top notch legal counsel because the lawyer can be assured that they will get paid.
    • Judges sometimes award legal fees right now, and I don't think a specific provision for "open source developers" would be remotely justifiable from a legal perspective.

      Attaching it to any lawsuit discarded as being frivolous, however, may be more interesting.
  • by mark_lybarger (199098) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:39AM (#3303275)
    from the 14 page pdf fax document, paragraph 36:

    "BNETD is a shorthand for BATTLE.NET DAEMON"

    anyone using BNETD is well aware that they're using something that isn't Blizzard's. i really would like to see this go to trial though. it's always entertaining to see them law-yers sling BS all over the place.

    maybe mcd's should be taking burger king to court for their new line of breakfast sandwitches [idausa.org] i went to bk to get one and was almost fooled to thinking i was at a McD's (of course when i spilled the coffee on myself and didn't get blisters, I knew where i was).
  • What complete bullshit.

    Do we see Microsoft suing the Samba team over usage of the SMB protocol in non-Microsoft related Operating Systems?

    I think not and you'd expect Microsoft to go as low as that (but they just change the protocol a tad bit with every OS they release).

    So why the fuck should Blizard/Vivendi sue the Bnetd team over this?
    • Well.. if Microsoft could find any excuse to sue them they would. If the SAMBA team manage to get an active directory compatible system working, I am sure you would see the Microsoft lawyers climbing over each others backs to issue them law suits.

      But I agree with you totally.. the only reason they are suing them (and correct me if I am wrong cause I have never played on Battle.NET) is because Battle.NET is a pay-per-play service, and this circumvents the need to pay a monthly subscription.. and hey, I dont see a problem with that.. why pay if someone else can offer the same service for free/less?
    • They might. The latest license for the smb patents has a "do not use with open source" clause in it...
  • Putting a big company's name in front page just to provoke people hatred is poor journalism.

    I'll bet no Vivendi exec has even eard about bnetd.
    • I'll bet no Vivendi exec has even [h]eard about bnetd.

      Then you just go ahead and rush out to buy WC3 and contribute to the Bnetd legal harrassment fund. After all, Vivendi never heard of it, so there's no way any harm could be done.
    • Huh? Vivendi owns Blizzard. So they are ultimately pulling the strings here. It is wholly appropriate to mention the parent company on sites owned by VA Software.
  • With this lawsuit Blizzard will created much disgust in the computer player community and much fear in the hacker community because all hackers will now fear that they will be sued by Blizzard/Microsoft/the US Goverment/the UN/the EU.
    This might have the following consequences:
    • Little children will be brought up in a word where computer games companies behave disgusting. Therefore they will think that all computer games are disgusting. Thus they will play less and work more for the school which is very good indeed.
    • Little computer hacking children will hack less computers because they will fear/phear/vear that they will be sued or their parents will take their computers away because they fear (parent don't phear of vear) that their children will be sued. Therefore they will hack less and will have much more time to word for school.
    • This will decrease the much of computer players greatly. This will remove the only argument for using Microsoft Windows. Therefore all people will use Linux only, unless they use FreeBSD, but that dying, too. Thus evil Microsoft will be destroied and Bill Gates will work as a janitor at Apple Computers.
  • by !splut (512711) <<ude.ipr.mula> <ta> <tups>> on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:47AM (#3303319) Journal
    Skimming down the list of purported violations, one gets the impression that Blizzard/Vivendi has no intention of being clever or strategic with this whole Bnet business. Without the shiny shield of the DMCA the Blizzard suit takes on the patina of a run-of-the-mill "he stole my popsicle" lawsuit.

    Obviously they didn't steal code. They reverse engineered, which is prohibited by the EULA, but isn't a copyright issue.

    Same deal with screenshots... They weren't making money off of them. The EULA gives guidelines for how screenshots may be used, but since they didn't mention violation of EULA, Bnetd should be able to put up a fair use defense.

    They may have an argument with the "public performance" issue, but it is difficult to understand what they mean. The difference between Blizzard and Microsoft is that MS wants you to make .NET software... But the Battle.net name trademark crap just sounds like filler material.

    Blizzard is throwing its weight around, trying to squash Bnetd with its vast bulk. Like a swarm of Protoss carriers... Lets hope Bnetd's lawyers bothered to develop "Lockdown."
  • Warlords Battlecry I Review [ign.com]
    Warlords Battlecry II Review [ign.com]

    IGN PC seemed suitably impressed.

    Warlords Battlecry I Review [gamespot.com]
    Warlords Battlecry II Review [gamespot.co.uk]

    So does Gamespot...
  • How can a company running a peer-to-peer music "sharing" network file suit about copyright infringments, traditional or not?

    Their encouraging pirating of the RIAA's intellectual property after all, aren't they?

  • by imadork (226897) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:54AM (#3303366) Homepage
    Prof. Felton gets threatened with a lawsuit by the RIAA regarding DMCA violations, but the lawsuit never comes.

    Bnetd gets threatened with a lawsuit by Vivendi regarding DMCA violations, but the lawsuit doesn't mention the DMCA.

    Perhaps the media companies know that the DMCA goes too far, and will not bring an actual high-profile lawsuit out of fear the entire thing will be overturned on appeal? After all, as long as the law is still on the books, it can still be used as a threat, even if it will never get tested in a court of law.

    • by terrymr (316118) <terrymr@ g m a i l . com> on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:33PM (#3303919)
      This seems to be a matter of extraordinary bad faith by VUG - if I followed this correctly :

      VUG : You are in violation of the DMCA take down your site.

      BNETD : Ok - the site is down - we have checked our compliance with the DMCA and will reinstate the site in 10 days unless you sue under the DMCA to prevent that.

      VUG Files lawsuit claiming violation of some other part of the copyright code.
  • by Seth Finkelstein (90154) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:56AM (#3303382) Homepage Journal
    Note a "DMCA complaint" isn't at all restricted to only addressing the infamous anti-circumvention provision.

    The Blizard letter states [eff.org] (emphasis added)

    The aforementioned site either hosts or distributes software which illegally modifies and/or alters Blizzard Entertainment copyrighted software or or bypasses anti-circumvention technology, thereby infringing upon Blizzard Entertainment copyrights.
    That is. Blizzard technically claimed in their letter that Bnetd violated EITHER traditional copyright OR new anti-circumvention, but didn't actually say which one it was.

    Sig: What Happened To The Censorware Project (censorware.org) [sethf.com]

  • by crisco (4669) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:58AM (#3303393) Homepage
    The lawsuit isn't against bnetd, it is against Tim Jung and his ISP, Internet Gateway. They are involved because Tim was kind enough to host the project and had the balls to stand up to Blizzard instead of bending to their will.

    The lawsuit reads like a press release, using phrases like 'Blizzard is one of the preeminent entertainment software companies in the world'.

    Don't tell anyone, but the source for bnetd is available with many linux distributions... I might have a look at some of Blizzards absurd claims myself.

    In other news, the coming of Dungeon Siege numbers the days for DiabloII. Dungeon Siege is much prettier and more immersing while offering the same kind of hack and slash gameplay, character advancement and 'finding nifty items' that was first pioneered in games like Rogue.

  • If Blizzard can prove the first count, I'd be on their side. Companies should make open source software by choice, NOT by force. Ripping off someone's code and reusing it in your own is a violation of almost every software license, open or otherwise.

    But I wonder what really happened? What code is Blizzard claiming was snagged?
  • Issues (Score:5, Insightful)

    by grakwell (571986) on Monday April 08, 2002 @12:15PM (#3303481)
    On Item 24:
    The existence of a unique bug that mirrors battle.net in bnetd's client-side login indicating that the source code was blatantly copied:

    During reverse-engineering, if you observe something happening with the program on every login, would you not implement it? How would the bnetd coders know it was a bug? How does this prove the *code* was copied, not the functionality?

    on 38, and 39:
    bnetd has been around for years. Isn't a provision for keeping a trademark timely defense of the trademark?How can Blizzard claim they were unaware of bnetd's infringing name when they sent the original developer a cease-and-desist notice that they never backed up? They have been aware of bnetd for the past 5+ years. The fact that they have not defended their trademark for this long (and if this is a trademark issue), they should lose the trademark.

    on 45:
    bnetd only devalues the battle.net trademark because it is a superior product to battle.net. Blizzard's servers are unstable cheater-havens. bnetd is used, in my experience, mostly by tight-knit groups of friends that choose to play without the lag and without the disrespectful people that are so common on battle.net.

    As for copyright infringement, I don't think Blizzard is going after them for screenshots. What they are claiming is that bnetd allows gamers to access the copyrighted content in battle.net games, that they couldn't otherwise access.

    Didn't Sony lose to Connectix, trying the same thing?

    And, isn't it fallacious, considering that these same users *can* access the copyrighted content without bnetd, through use of the games' touted single player aspects?
  • Boycott Blizzard (Score:3, Insightful)

    by drivers (45076) on Monday April 08, 2002 @12:32PM (#3303575)
    This is why I am asking everyone to Boycott Blizzard.
    http://boycottblizzard.org/ [boycottblizzard.org]
  • by yeoua (86835) on Monday April 08, 2002 @12:35PM (#3303600)
    Ok, lets get some facts straight...

    I was on the irc channel that was working their asses off developing the warcraft3beta work arounds for bnetd, and let me tell you, none of them are affiliated with bnetd.

    In fact, they weren't using bnetd to begin with i believe... they went through several choices (including closed source fsgs) before going with opensource bnetd. BTW there was a possible nondoctored shot of fsgs working with warcraft3, before bnetd was fixed to work for it.

    Anyway, from the bnetd sourceforge page, it seemed pretty obvious to everything that they were not going to officially support warcraft3 until it was retail anyway, though they were starting to work on it.

    It was the channel i was on that did actually pull it off, and again, they were not related to bnetd... and since it was open source, well... no one stopped them. It was reverse engineered, no code was stolen. The coolest part was the original bypass of the password, which was done by using a crack into the exe, by passing the whole password check (client didn't send, server didn't ask, all was good, but no passwords in this case). It was actually quite amazing that it was done in such a short period of time, about a week and some bit after the original beta was released.

    So what am i getting at? Well, bnetd didn't put in the war3b code that we all know and love now. And blizzard didn't complain till after the war3b code was working. So exactly why is it that after all this time, its still bnetd under fire? The code was open source for god-sakes... anyone could have played with it.

    And i'm pretty damn sure sourceforge has enough documentation to rule out the usage of ripped code from blizzard.

    As far as i'm concerned, this is a silly lawsuit, as you can't buy war3 at all at this point, and blizzard didn't care until war3.
  • This looks like a classic example of SLAP - they have no case but hope to scare everybody into submission by filing frivolous lawsuits.

  • This isn't really about WarcraftIII or Battle.net as it currently exists at all... it's about Blizzard's future revenue model. they're trying to set a presedent for when they release World of Warcraft. They need to be the only place to play their games online so that they can push their pay-for-play MMORP sucessfully. If anyone can put up a server to play Blizzard games on, what is the incentive to pay Blizzard to play the game?
  • Next they will have to shut down DiabloII.Net [diabloii.net] since they post screen shots. Also, any magazine that plans on doing a review of the game better think twice before printing screen shots.
  • by ChadN (21033) on Monday April 08, 2002 @04:26PM (#3305145)
    (ie. Diablo... ie. Dia-BLOW)

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