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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 Em Emalb (452530) <ememalb@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> 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...."
  • Blizzard (Score:2, Interesting)

    by mxmissile (569819) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:29AM (#3303204) Homepage
    Blizzard is just upset becuase of this [dungeonseige.com]. They have to take their frustrations out on someone.
  • 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).
  • Re:uh huh... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DCram (459805) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:40AM (#3303276)
    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?

  • by !splut (512711) <.sput. .at. .alum.rpi.edu.> 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."
  • by atari2600 (545988) on Monday April 08, 2002 @11:51AM (#3303351)
    I threw my WC2 CD and manual in the trash bin along with the 34AOL CDs - i kinda liked WC3 beta but thats about it - no more Blizzard no more Warcraft - a pity - M$ gotta watch out- i will be throwing their windows CDs too - no wait a min i dont have their CDs.
    guys@Blizzard - get a life.
  • 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 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.

  • 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.
  • by DraKKon (7117) on Monday April 08, 2002 @12:46PM (#3303671) Journal
    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.
  • Re:Well. . . . (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Phanatic1a (413374) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:21PM (#3303845)
    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.
  • by po8 (187055) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:33PM (#3303914)

    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...

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

    by Rogerborg (306625) on Monday April 08, 2002 @01:56PM (#3304073) Homepage
    • 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??????????????

  • 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.

  • Re:Vile. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by _archangel (30213) on Monday April 08, 2002 @05:06PM (#3305451)
    The only disagreement I would have with you is about the Bnetd sounding too much like a derivative of Battle.net. The people who you mentioned Bnetd to probably have never heard of it. Instead they most likely assumed that you were referring to Battle.net (or B.net). I believe that anyone who takes the time to set up a Bnetd server or modify their registry to be able to see a Bnetd server will have no doubt in their minds of the difference.

Reference the NULL within NULL, it is the gateway to all wizardry.

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