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Role Playing (Games) Government The Courts News

Blizzard Sues Creator of WoW Bot 701

Posted by Zonk
from the kind-of-defeating-the-point-of-an-mmo dept.
Ponca City, We Love You writes "Blizzard, the makers of World of Warcraft, are suing Michael Donnelly, the creator of the MMO Glider program, which performs key tasks in the game automatically. Blizzard says the software bot infringes the company's copyright and potentially damages the game. 'Blizzard's designs expectations are frustrated, and resources are allocated unevenly, when bots are introduced into the WoW universe, because bots spend far more time in-game than an ordinary player would and consume resources the entire time,' Blizzard wrote in its legal submission to the court. More than 100,000 copies of the tool have been sold while more than 10 million people around the world play Warcraft. Donnelly says his tool does not infringe Blizzard's copyright because no 'copy' of the Warcraft game client software is ever made. The two parties are now awaiting a summary judgment in the case."
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Blizzard Sues Creator of WoW Bot

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  • by Keen Anthony (762006) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:45PM (#22875222)
    Don't really see how it infringes on the Warcraft copyright; but maybe it infringes on the trademark somehow if it's being marketed as something official to Blizzard and WoW, and giving customers the perception that this is an extension of the WoW service. As for damaging WoW by taking up more resources than the normal player would; what if I were an abnormal player who is on nearly 24/7; is there some provision in the agreement where I am charged more for the subscription or something?
  • Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Hubbell (850646) <{brianhubbellii} {at} {live.com}> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:45PM (#22875224)
    This is only a problem in a game like WoW where you can't lose items on death (specifically to other players) and are built around a constant grind to get that next tier of armor or those next few points in the battlegrounds to get that next tier of weapons. Darkfall [darkfallonline.com], while long in development, is a game that offers complete freedom to the players to run their world as they see fit. If they wish to just be in chaos all the time and killing each other willy nilly, then so be it! If they wish to form a world full with alliances throwing blows at each other here and there to capture more resources (which is the hope/intent of the game) and build more cities, then they can! You can be a roving assassin picking off lone targets who venture too far from a town by themselves, or you can join a massive player army to raid enemy towns and fortresses.
  • by The Analog Kid (565327) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:46PM (#22875234)
    How? Unless he stole source code and used it in his program, I don't see how. Maybe I'm just missing something, but I don't think this program infringes on their copyrights, it may violate other things like their TOS, but this seems to be merely and intimidation act to make him shut down.
  • Thank God (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Satanboy (253169) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:48PM (#22875270)
    I'm really glad to see Blizz taking action against botters.
    I've seen many folks using programs like this and they have ruined many MMOs, (esp. FFXI and Lineage 2).

    It's about time a company really stands up and tries to prevent this sort of thing.

    I don't know about free software, with that they may have trouble, but this guys program is pay to use, so they might be able to take him to task for it.

    Less botters = less annoyance

    For those that say this doesn't affect us regular players, just wait until you hit a battleground and ten people are botting, it really ruins the experience and wastes a lot of time.
  • Re:Thank God (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Brian Gordon (987471) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:51PM (#22875302)
    Wow that's total BS. How is Blizzard abusing the legal system someone standing up to make the game better? This has far wider consequences than you being annoyed in some MMO. And paying to use has nothing to do with it, other than that Blizzard is more likely to be jealous and sue him out of business.
  • by Gideon Fubar (833343) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:52PM (#22875318) Journal
    so i can pay $10/month to have a bot do the boring grinding for me.

    Oh wait.. that's why i don't play in the first place. Why the hell would you play an rpg that can be played more effectively by a bot than a human?

    </flamebait>
  • by Jimmy_B (129296) <slashdotNO@SPAMjimrandomh.org> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:53PM (#22875324) Homepage
    This program almost certainly does not infringe on Blizzard's copyright. However, (1) this program exists for the sole purpose of cheating, and (2) cheating is a violation of Blizzard's terms of service. In other words, they're encouraging people to violate their contract with Blizzard, which could be considered tortious interference [wikipedia.org].

    (Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer, and I don't know whether Blizzard is actually arguing this angle.)
  • Com-zard (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Bobfrankly1 (1043848) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:54PM (#22875338)
    I like Blizzard, but this argument smells of Comcast logic.
    "We sold you X access, but you are using X access. Even though we promised you X access, we really don't want you using X access, and we don't even want you using almost X access that much. So we're taking action."
    -Comcast starts forging packets to kill bittorrent transfers, even though they advertise/sell that bandwidth, they don't want you using it all the time.
    -Blizzard starts suing to kill automated clients that are in the game, even though they advertise/sell you that access, they don't want you using it all the time.

    I understand there's more lying underneath, but this reasoning doesn't win them any sympathy from me.
  • by Itninja (937614) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @06:59PM (#22875406) Homepage
    From TFA:

    Blizzard has said the tool infringes copyright because it copies the game into RAM in order to avoid detection by anti-cheat software.
    That's pretty freakin' weak. Are they gonna sue me because I remembered stuff about the game and told it to a friend? Am I then using my brain to illegally copy game data?
  • by Breakfast Pants (323698) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:02PM (#22875440) Journal
    Shrinkwrap EULAs haven't been ruled enforceable. Especially since you can't read them until you open the box, and many stores don't do software returns (unless you return it for a copy of the same software.. which would of course have the same EULA). Now, the WoW subscriber agreement is enforceable and may cover the updated binaries that come through the WoW updater.
  • Re:Maybe (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kenoli (934612) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:05PM (#22875486)
    They did.


    Patch 2.3.0

    > Leveling Improvements
    > Many leveling improvements have been made for the old world.
    > o The amount of experience needed to gain a level has been decreased between levels 20 and 60. In addition, the amount of experience granted by quests has been increased between levels 30 and 60.
    > o Level 1-60 dungeon quests have had their experience and faction rewards increased.
    > o Many elite creatures and quests in the level 1-60 experience have been changed to accommodate solo play.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:10PM (#22875560)
    Why the hell would you play Chess, Checkers, pretty much any card game, Scrabble, Monopoly,....

    It turns out that computers are better than humans at just about any game. Does this mean that we can no longer entertain ourselves?
  • by javajeff (73413) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:13PM (#22875598)
    Guild Wars does it right. I think Blizzard should keep real world PVP, but implement it differently. I think as soon as someone initiates PVP, an new toolbar should appear, and everyone should be the top level with top gear so it it balanced. There should not be level 70s killing level 20s and other grief tactics. In other words, PVP XP and PVE XP should be completely different.
  • Re:Who cares? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by KiloByte (825081) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:15PM (#22875620)
    And MUDs have solved the issue so many years ago...

    On a vast majority, death means you lose your set unless you manage to do a corpse retrieval. On for example the Two Towers [t2tmud.org], you don't even get to keep eq over logins; they can be stored in some ways but even that gets purged every (scheduled) reboot of the game.

    If you don't get that attached to your set, there is a limit how far you go to improve it. A good player will have constantly decent one, a grinder rarely will.
  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:17PM (#22875646) Homepage Journal

    How on earth do you load the program into memory (and once again into CPU cache) to run it if you can't???

    The pro-EULA faction's argument works like this:

    Under copyright law alone, you don't have the right to make the copy(*). You don't have the right to run the software that they sell you.

    In order to make their software usable (so that someone would have incentive to buy it), the copyright holder extends additional rights to its customer, rights that copyright law does not grant. One of the additional rights, is the right to copy the software to your hard disk and RAM.

    These additional rights are given by a license: the EULA. If you accept the EULA, you gain the right to use the software. If you accept the EULA, you also give up some rights that you otherwise would have had, so read all the fine print. It can get very specific about under what circumstances that you are allowed to copy the program into RAM, and for what purposes. Copying their work to RAM for execution purposes would be something they grant, and copying to RAM to serve checksums to defeat bot detection would be something not granted.

    (*) The catch: their claim that you don't have the right (without the EULA) to run the software, is questionable. Since 1) the purpose of the copying is noncommercial 2) the nature of the copyrighted work makes it useless unless copied to RAM, and 4) the effect of the copying has no impact on the market for the copyrighted work, it is arguably Fair Use. (Note I left out the number 3 in the above list.)

  • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:19PM (#22875674) Journal

    Okay - it's dubious, but I can see how they would at least make a legal argument that it was copyright infringement. That's a good explanation. But I don't quite get why they need to do this to spot bots. Presumably WoW has some sort of chat channel that the admins could use to communicate with players? If they roughly identify bots through their behaviour - e.g. the number of hours played, confinement to one location, repetitive actions or whatever gives the game away, could they not quickly confirm it by sending a message saying "Hey, enjoying the game? Could you just confirm your not a bot by answering this question, please..."
  • by Xeth (614132) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:21PM (#22875686) Journal

    However, here the programmer is using the program in a way that doesn't comply with the EULA.
    Except that it can't be proven he's agreed the the EULA. He's not playing a game, but distributing software that interacts with it. Even if he had violated the EULA, I really don't think you can be sued for that. It just means (assuming the EULA is valid, which is by no means certain) that you lose the ability to use the software.

    Therefore, he is not only violating the EULA, but also their copyright, because he is making a copy for an unauthorized purpose.
    The first point is invalid (see above). The second point has no truth to it at all. Despite corporate brainwashing, copyright doesn't mean you have to use the work like the creator says. It means that you can only distribute it to others with rather severe restrictions. Since he doesn't seem to be distributing copies of the game, copyright doesn't apply.
  • by Breakfast Pants (323698) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:22PM (#22875700) Journal
    That seems totally bogus: music CDs have to be copied to ram (ever had a disc man with 8 second skip protection? Wow, I'm dating myself), but they don't have EULAs.
  • by Cajun Hell (725246) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:22PM (#22875712) Homepage Journal
    On some MUDs, if a player was suspected of botting, other players would give them an on-the-spot Turing test. Those who failed would be attacked.
  • whine whine whine (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ILuvRamen (1026668) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @07:24PM (#22875740)
    Oh boy, another case of a company trying to make their own laws cuz they think they're powerful enough to do so. What is it with corporations and not being able to understand that their security can't detain or shoot people, they can't spy on their employees at home, and they can't sue bot makers. How arrogant can you get? If they would get over themselves and actually pay up to have their programmers create anti bot measures, they wouldn't be having this problem.
  • by JSBiff (87824) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:08PM (#22876178) Journal
    "Perhaps if some great leaders played the game they could inspire the masses to band together and overthrow the griefers. A George Washington of the gaming world."

    You know, I've thought about that before. The problem is, I've never seen a game where the game mechanics lend themselves to player-policing. I mean, what are you gonna do to the griefers? Hunt them down and kill them? Ok, so they respawn in a couple seconds and start all over. Throw them in jail? What jail? In games, where death is usually meaningless, and even what you can lose is rather limited, there can really be no 'punishment'. At the same time, if a game developer *did* put something like that in, it would just be a tool for griefers to make your life even more miserable.

    Ultimately, there is nothing you can do to griefers. They might log out for a little while if they are getting ganked non-stop. Then log back in after a while, when the angry mob has moved and, and start griefing weaker players again.

    Most game developers, instead of trying to rely on player-policing, just design the games to limit how much one player can grief another. One one end of the spectrum, you have games like City of Heroes / Villains where you have nothing to lose when dieing from enemy players, and PvP is completely concensual (you have to either go to special zones, or else to an 'arena'). On the other end of the spectrum, with something like, say Eve Online, PvP is still, at least, partially consensual (different zones are ranked differently, and if you are going to a zone where you think you might be griefed because of low security rating, you can at least prepare for it by maybe taking a ship you don't care about losing, and storing all your valuables in vaults in secure space stations).

    Honestly, I don't mind that. The truth is, it's just a game and, just like I can't ultimately do anything to the griefer, griefers, ultimately, can't do anything to me. Of course, if you can potentially lose stuff that someone else can sell for real cash (like Entropia Universe), it becomes a little bit more worrisome.
  • by rahvin112 (446269) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:15PM (#22876238)
    Every MMORPG suffers the same problem. How do you keep a game interesting and maintain incentive for people to keep playing the more they play? Every Single MMORPG, that I'm aware of, going all the way back to the very first network MUD's solved the problem with grindage. Grindage is play where all you do is hack and slash for experience/equipment. That the new generation of graphical MMORPG players is becoming aware of this and using the same techniques the text based predecessors used (scripting or bots) is absolutely not unexpected.

    If every level is as easy to reach as the last then no one would play because there is no challenge in it. The grindage is a simple function of the game to make the higher levels and stuff more valuable as the time commitment goes up dramatically the higher you go. There are only a couple other tools you can use to keep things interesting and neither are perfect. Quests require massive continuing development of unique entertaining single player experiences (on MUD's this was handled by the volunteer development community of former players), the second solution is forcing everyone above a certain level to automatically accept Player killer status such that moving about in the world is much more dangerous. The only other option is to bring in elements of non killing group interactivity (true role playing), which graphical MMORPG's seem to be unusable for.

    Don't blame Blizzard for the game being about grindage, it's a fact of the genre that you would know if you had been around long enough to have played MUD's back in their heyday. As a for profit company Blizzard has a goal of preventing people from cheating at the grindage because it can get people to stop playing because the achievement of working through the grindage means a lot less.
  • Re:Thank God (Score:3, Interesting)

    by alexhard (778254) <alexhard AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:16PM (#22876254) Homepage
    I'm not a game designer, but as a gamer I consider a game being well designed when it rewards me for skill, being smart, thinking strategically, that kind of thing..WoW has only one route to success, and that is grinding ie spending time. Contrast this to TF2: have crazy FPS aim skills? Play a sniper, and the game rewards you for them. Strategic thinking? Play pyro and make creative use of alternative routes. The list goes on..of course you get better with time, but after the first 10-15 hours with the game, it is not a very big factor as you start running in to diminishing returns.
  • by Cederic (9623) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:34PM (#22876412) Journal

    WoW does mandate it.

    The 25 man content in TBC was balanced around having 25 people turn up wearing the best available equipment, using every flask/potion/food buff/weapon buff available to them and also happening to play well.

    While learning how to do those encounters it is inevitable that death will occur.

    This means that for a group of people to progress through the game and see more of the content within the game, they have to generate substantial income across the group and use it on repairs and consumables.

    The introduction of ZA and the new tokens have to an extent reduced the dependency on consumables, as you can now out-gear the content instead of having to use consumable items to boost you. However acquiring the new equipment still requires repetitive activities such as going through the same few instances day after day to 'earn' tokens.

    So there is considerable pressure on people to grind in order to ensure that when they turn up on a 25 man raid they are able to contribute fully. If half the raid don't grind, and thus don't turn up fully equipped with potions, flasks, oils, food and the like, the raid will not progress through new content.

    This isn't people playing to get the best of everything. It's people playing to have fun: The raiding and teamwork and social elements of the game are significant factors in its success and longevity.

    Sadly the game design mandates grinding to participate in these aspects of the game. I know a lot of people that want to take part in raids, and enjoy the social side of the game, and explore new content, but lack the time or inclination to spend tedious hours grinding for the resources to do so.

    This is why there is a market for people selling in-game gold for real-life money, and one reason automated bots such as Glider are attractive.

  • by lgw (121541) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:52PM (#22876534) Journal
    Some of us are still boycotting Blizzard ...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @08:52PM (#22876536)
    "For a short time"? I haven't bought or subscribed to a Blizzard game in 10 years.

    They have some great artists, but their biz guys can suck it for all I care. I've got better things to spend my money on.
  • Economy? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by FreyarHunter (760978) <(Psycle) (at) (comcast.net)> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:07PM (#22876682)
    A large portion of World of Warcraft and other MMOs is the scope of the game's economy. I've been hearing rumors about the WoW Gold (piece?) being labled as a known and accepted form of currency somewhere, but I'm not sure.

    Really, at the software can and does damage that economy, throwing off the balance of this economy. I'm a former player that used to try and make money through auction house deals and I slowly saw servers starting to decline economically as more and more goods flooded markets, with no real gold anywhere to spread about.

    This may not neccesarily be the fault of Glider itself, but it certainly is a supportive factor. As for lost revenue, when someone's found to be botting, they get banned, and revenue is lost, it's that simple there.
    -----

    My opinion is biased as I was a player in a server with a ruined economy and rampant cheating, but I kinda hope Blizzard wins this one, despite the arguments used. I'd rather the sale, distribution, and development of Glider be stopped/halted.
  • Re:glider (Score:3, Interesting)

    by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @09:48PM (#22877034)
    Yeah, by their logic if I hibernate my computer with WoW running I would be violating their copyright.
  • But you have to ask how he developed the bot without using a client and violating the terms of Blizzard's license? If he doesn't abide by the terms, he doesn't have a right to have a copy and if he doesn't have a right to a copy, he's infringing...

  • by Junior J. Junior III (192702) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:42PM (#22877452) Homepage
    Dear Blizzard,

    When people are so desperate not to have to play your game that they'll write a program to do it for them, the gameplay model is broken. Try to do better next time.

    Sincerely,

    An indie gamer
  • by phantomcircuit (938963) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:43PM (#22877464) Homepage
    Actually the game of Go [wikipedia.org] has yet to be mastered by a computer [wikipedia.org].
  • Re:Thank God (Score:4, Interesting)

    by gozu (541069) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:53PM (#22877568) Journal
    You're already modded +5 insightful but YES, DAMMIT, YES! If a game forces you to spend hours doing tasks a bot CAN do, then it's crap. Now cheats that mess with the netcode and software or even assistive hackes (like artificial crosshair or playerpainting via hacked drivers in CStrike or automatic targeters with superior reflexes) are wrong. The answer? More quality interactive content and less easily automated tasks (or make them part of the game like Final Fantasy XII's gambit system was used to program your character's actions). If the world is persistent, why can't the ingame characters be left as pseudo-NPCs in an AFK state, doing something that accumulates wealth/XP points for the player? The point is, make the game with no crappy grind so that a bot would have to be an actual human-level AI capable of learning and your problem is solved (or we all get enslaved, in which case it's solved in sort of a bad way). FTR: Played FF online for 6 months and quit because of the grind. One day, Virtual Worlds will be awesome, today, they suck.
  • by Z34107 (925136) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @10:55PM (#22877602)

    Possibly they don't want people to experience the "end game", as then they might realise how boring and pointless the whole thing is and stop paying the monthly subscription fee.

    So - Blizzard doesn't get their day in court because you think their game is "boring and pointless."

    But, contrary to your assertion, they want everyone to experience the end-game. Two patches ago, they greatly reduced the amount of experience points you need to get to level at every level between 20 and 60. (Getting to 20 only takes a week or so of casual play anyway.) In addition, the same quests between levels 30 and 60 reward more XP.

    Up to level 60, it takes less XP to level and you get it faster. Why? Because at around 55, you can experience the new content in the "Burning Crusade" expansion. They've also made instanced dungeons less tedious to run - needing only 25 people instead of 40 - so that more people can experience these areas. They also made PvP loot more powerful, so people who don't want to be raiding for hours every night can pick up and play, and still get comparable loot.

    Their goal is to have even casual players at level 70, so that they can move their next expansion that'll let you go from 70 to 80. They make more money and sell more expansions if more people can reach the "end game" - so they've been making it easier to get there.

  • How it all works (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tburnelis (1263000) on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:06PM (#22877706)
    As an Ex-Programmer and user of Macroquest (Glider for Everquest essentially) the act of using active memory to alter game play has been around for a long time.
    The automation of simple tasks does not need this memory hacking to work. In my days pre-macroquest, I used to take a nostromo speedpad, or other USB joystick of sorts, and program mini-macro's into them. Just a recorded set of keystrokes to do thing like autofire and such.

    The use of Memory alteration, does a lot more then press the same button over and over. It can intercept, and redirect information being sent to and from the server changing what will happen. It can tell the server a new location for your character (warping) it can tell the server your default speed should be "x" so you can run as fast as you want. the list goes on and on.

    In the Macroquest world, there are a few levels of "hacking", you have your non invasive macro's, which automate keystrokes, mouse movements, and clicks. Next are plugins, which are a little more difficult, it requires actually writing a program extension (.DLL file) to perform things, some are passive, utilizing the information recieved from the server, but not normally available to the player. Although not available, it's still being sent, so not really against the rules to use it. Lastly using plugins to access your memory, and "hook" game memory addresses, to alter the information and changed it to what you want.

    All in all, cheating like this is not a simple task, it requires reverse engineering the programs exe, figuring out memory offsets for each thing you want to change, writing a programs to find and latch onto the memory offset to change it, and then figuring out the value to change it to to get the desired effect. Doing this is what we call an active hack, these are the ones that places like Sony and Blizzard can find using there tracking programs. These are what hurts them, using more resources then a normal player.

    The simple automation of button pressing can (and has) be argued to be allowed based on most games EULA, which prohibits the use of 3rd party applications to alter game play. Automating keystroke/mouse click tasks does not alter game play, or change the way the program they wrote works in any way, if anything it may prevent carpal tunnel.

    What I'm trying to say is: The user is chosing to use a program to violate the EULA, they should be punished. It's like sueing a company that makes bolt cutters because a customer of theirs bought some bolt cutters and broke into your house, or shed. The person performing the breaking and entering is at fault, not the manufacturer of the tool used to break and enter.
  • by los furtive (232491) <ChrisLamothe AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday March 26, 2008 @11:18PM (#22877806) Homepage

    I've been playing since a month after it came out, and I still play to this day...[I] find that it is enough amusement to justify $15/month.
    So you started playing in December of 2004? Why that's a total of $600 in monthly fees plus the cost of the software and expansion packs. Was Blizzard nice enough to throw in a free month after the first $500?
  • I think it's always been technically true that a company can sue you for violating a license agreement. The issue is that penalty for infringement is always based on damages, and in most cases, the amount of financial damage done is insufficient to warrant a lawsuit (or for a court to award anything). In this case though, the bot maker is violating Blizzard's license in order to make money for himself. He is also encouraging others to violate their license. Blizzard may not win, but they have a better case than if they sued someone who just wrote a bot for their own amusement.

  • by MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @12:34AM (#22878304)

    Why is it that anyone who stands up for something worth standing up for (like the right to run a multiplayer game on your own terms) gets called stupid here when they get stamped on?
    I'll answer your question even though it was obviously intended to be rhetorical:

    I was all for BNETD, actually. I loved StarCraft, hated seeing ads while using their service while games like Quake didn't have that centralization. BNETD would have been great! But they had too many ingredients stacked against them. First, it's Blizzard, they're successful, they have an enormous stash of lawyers and given that their money comes from games run on PCs (i.e. easiest to pirate) they are filled with resolve. Second, they quite intentionally designed Battle.net to be THE way their on-line games are matched. It's quite clear they had bigger plans to make money from that service. More resolve. Third, for reasons that either incredibly greedy or incredibly practical, they used this service in an attempt to maintain their CD-Key system to keep the gamers legit. Forth, all this was happening right when about the time the DMCA was out and about and untested. I remember when this was going on I couldn't believe they were actually going to try this battle. Worse, they were using the EFF to help them. I wanted them to win, believe me, but I just couldn't see how there was any way they thought they'd actually win this. From where I sat, the best outcome they could have hoped for was a racking up of huge lawyer bills and a precedent set against them. They made a nice PR push: "Well we tried to ask if we could have permission to talk to their servers to okay a game being played, but gee golly gosh they wouldn't let us into their copy protection system! Jerks!" But it wasn't a PR battle, and the CD-Key was a pretty big deal.

    So, I will correct you, sir: I am not stamping on the guy standing up for something. I'm kicking the idiot for picking the wrong battle to fight and making it worse for everybody. That's the sort of thing that caused some content makers to seek the DMCA's introduction into law, and if the people involved had been running more on practicality than idealism, some serious trouble could have been spared. I wish they had won, but I wish more that they hadn't fought it at all.

    It's not just 'fun to villify' Blizzard for this - they deserve far worse than villification - they've abused the courts to wreck other people's hard work because it exposed the obvious flaw in their copy-protection system
    I'm not happy with Blizzard's decisions that led to BNETD getting developed. Despite that, I don't agree with this here. For one thing, Blizzard did not act out of the norm. They created something and sought control over it. Anybody with a surprised look on their face that the C&D went out would not be able to claim they're very much in tune with how corps work. Nobody working at BNETD had any right to say "You gotta be kidding!" Second, you're not the judge of when a game's put out to pasture. There were copies of StarCraft still in stores after this whole BNETD thing died down. Third, that's nice that they had a flaw in their scheme and all, but BNETD still fought the battle they didn't have to.

    That whole thing should never have escalated that far. A little bit of common sense would have prevented that. Instead, what we got was an appeal for sympathy. All I could do was shake my head and wonder just how many of the DMCAs teeth were sharpened over it.
  • by 24-bit Voxel (672674) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @12:38AM (#22878324) Journal
    It must be costing them a fortune for it to be going this far. And they can't really sue the end users because then they cut off the revenue stream. No other real options for them, but I can assure you they don't give a damn about cheating. Never have never will. It has to affect the bottom line for it to be on the radar.

    Cheating was completely out of control when I was playing WoW, and I quit years ago. I can't imagine anything has changed. I put "server hacks" as my reason for leaving then, so it at least cost them 24 months (that it's been for me) x $15 = $360. If it's 10000 people we're talking about real money here. And thus, the action by Blizzard.

    They also couldn't care less what attack vector they use, as long as the problem goes away. They probably chose the one that they felt was going to do the most damage so they can nuke the problem out of orbit. Naturally it won't work and another will spring up and the pattern will continue. God I hate cheaters.
  • by Z34107 (925136) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @03:31AM (#22879106)

    I wonder if they'll try and force him to give up his source during discovery. That might very well be the angle they're looking at in this whole thing.

    That's realling interesting! Two outcomes if they manage to do that:

    1. He is using infringing code somehow and has to pay $bucks.
    2. Blizzard has his source code and can defend against it now.

    Win-win if that's allowed during discovery.

  • by g4b (956118) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @05:05AM (#22879458) Homepage
    Somehow the statement for me depends on wrong and right.

    "wrong target" for me means, that morally, the creator should not be blamed for creating a piece of software which can help you in a specifical task, even if this task may be unmoral.
    it is like suing weapons producers for making wars. of course on a high-moral ground, we can debate this otherwise, but with high-moral ground i mean idealistic morality, which has more to do with world-view and beliefs.

    so of course, strategically it is the right target to catch the dealer of something illegal. if it IS illegal.
    otherwise, you HAVE TO catch the customers, which are the USERS of the program.

    you can't destroy cigarette companies, to free all smokers, because nicotine is legal.
    on the other hand, you have to catch the dealer of pot, because pot is illegal.

    for legal stuff (even wow) the customers are responsible for USING them. blizzard claims bots play longer, but maybe somebody has, whatever, disabilities and is very fond of his bot program, because it helps him catching up with his friends - and he does not let the bot run longer, than he plays. so we see, it depends on the usage of the tool, the tool is not used to attack the server and is not performing illegal tasks per se (maybe it does, but from what i see it does not, or blizzard would sue for other reasons)

    this makes the programmer morally the wrong target. and also legally the wrong target.
    if blizzard succeeds in this, it may be fair on high-moral ground, but absolutely injust in terms of justice for all the other developers on the world creating little tools.

    it is of course the right target strategically (and i think you meant that), but this again will make the whole move "evil", since they DO attack the wrong target (legally, morally), even if their motives and anger may be understandable in some way (high-moral).
  • by Atario (673917) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @05:40AM (#22879598) Homepage

    is it illegal for third parties to provide players with the means to violate the End User License Agreement and the Terms of Use?
    If so, then Microsoft is in trouble for that bot-building tool they sell, "Visual Studio".
  • by Intrinsic (74189) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @05:42AM (#22879606) Homepage
    Id have to agree with you, any game the requires you to remain online for extraordinary amounts of time to get anywhere in the game is flawed by design.

    Thats the reason why I don't play MMORPG's.
  • This is presuming that the defendant has actually used Blizzard source code in the creation of his software.

    Blizzard doesn't own or even have any legal right to any software that has been independently created and developed outside of its own software code base. If this developer had any brains at all, he would have been using a compiler and development tool set for a "non-standard" software development language like Object Pascal, Smalltalk, or Lisp. By doing that, it would be incredibly hard to suggest that the defendant has "copied" software when the structures look so much different.... certainly you could create some considerable doubt to a jury of even professional software developers much less twelve random "citizens" who know nothing about computer software development.

    Demanding source code during discovery might backfire just as awfully as the "glove test" that happened during the O.J. Simpson murder trial, and if I were a consultant to the plaintiff I would strongly discourage even trying this approach unless there was some strong evidence that the defendant had in fact broken into the Blizard HQ (electronically of physically) and stolen actual source code which was later incorporated into his software. Based on what Michael Donnelly is trying to say, this seems like a rather dubious possibility when there are so many other possible approaches that could be done.

    Also, Blizzard may not want to obtain the source code at all due to future copyright conflicts that could arise. If any, and I mean any, Blizzard software engineer took a look at Mr. Donnelly's software and later incorporated the concepts (even but one algorithm) into Blizzard's software.... the tables could turn very easily and have Mr. Donnelly sue Blizzard for copyright infringement. I can't believe that a software attorney would even want to touch such an explosive legal bomb like that.

    As demonstrated with the SCO vs. IBM lawsuit, fighting copyright infringement via source code is not always a good strategy... and SCO had a much stronger case than Blizzard.
  • by nschubach (922175) on Thursday March 27, 2008 @09:09AM (#22880634) Journal
    Perhaps you can point out a few MMOs that do not have "grinding"?

    It's about money. If the player has to play the game longer to get to whatever point they feel "complete" then they pay more subscription fees. If they bot while they are not playing, they can achieve more items in less time and therefore pay less. It's what makes me sick with MMOs. They aren't about a fun game. It's about an end goal, and making it time consuming to get to. Instead of the developers out-thinking the power gamers, they are taking the easy way out and increasing the time to acquire _____. Unfortunately, companies are seeing MMOs as good money making models because many people are buying into it. I'm interested, and kind of hoping, that all these millions of WoW players will get to the point where I am (Sick of grind MMOs) and start buying games that actually innovate and create entertainment.

This place just isn't big enough for all of us. We've got to find a way off this planet.

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