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The Courts Games

Court Upholds Blizzard's Anti-Bot DMCA Claim, Denies Copyright Infringement 143

Posted by Soulskill
from the should-have-farmed-more-rep-with-the-judges dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Ninth Circuit reversed a $6.5 million judgment for Blizzard against MDY Industries, saying that making bots is not copyright infringement. The bad news for MDY? The court found that they did violate DMCA Section 1201(a)(2) (PDF), which prohibits trafficking in products that circumvent technologies designed to control access to copyright-protected works."
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Court Upholds Blizzard's Anti-Bot DMCA Claim, Denies Copyright Infringement

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  • DMCA is useful? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Kinthelt (96845) on Friday December 24, 2010 @11:17AM (#34659964) Homepage

    As much as it hurts me to say it, it seems that the DMCA is useful in this case.

    This is what it was made for. The original spirit of the act.

  • Re:DMCA is useful? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GodWasAnAlien (206300) on Friday December 24, 2010 @11:32AM (#34660070)

    > As much as it hurts me to say it, it seems that the DMCA is useful in this case.

    What leads you to that conclusion? There is nothing useful about the DMCA.

    The article seems to imply a dangerous precedent:

    "Thus, even though – as discussed above – the court ruled that Glider did not facilitate copyright infringement, MDY could still be liable under the DMCA for circumventing Warden's detection features."

    So the DMCA can apparently be used to attack reverse engineering that was not necessarily used to facilitate copyright infringment.

  • Re:DMCA is useful? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday December 24, 2010 @11:50AM (#34660196)

    I'm looking at the destination, not the journey. :)

    AKA "The Ends Justifies the Means."

    Meanwhile this particular end has nothing to do with what the DMCA "was made for" or "the original spirit of the act."

  • Re:DMCA is useful? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by poetmatt (793785) on Friday December 24, 2010 @11:51AM (#34660204) Journal

    getting rid of bots fails to answer as to what has gone on to encourage bots in the first place.

    if you think getting rid of bots is good, you are missing both the destination and the journey.

    the underlying question should be: how has this game become so repetitive that people can automate it in the first place?

    oh right, blizzard, grind, etc.

  • Re:DMCA is useful? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by pitchpipe (708843) on Friday December 24, 2010 @12:05PM (#34660278)

    What leads you to that conclusion? There is nothing useful about the DMCA.

    Favorite $MEGACORP wins case. Must be justified. Case closed.

  • Re:DMCA is useful? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sloppy (14984) on Friday December 24, 2010 @12:15PM (#34660344) Homepage Journal

    Um, go on. What was the original spirit of the act?

    The cynical view was that it was intended to prevent anything that anyone doesn't like. In that respect, you're right.

    The naive/front purpose of the act was that it was intended to prevent copyright infringement, by making prohibiting some of the prerequisites to copyright infringement (as well as prohibiting the prerequisites to many fair uses as well, but you can't make an omelet without ruthlessly crushing dozens of eggs beneath your steel boot and then publicly disemboweling the chickens that laid them as a warning to others). In that respect, this application of DMCA has nothing to do with its original purpose.

  • by The Snowman (116231) on Friday December 24, 2010 @12:31PM (#34660438) Homepage

    What you're really saying is the government is more openly aggressive, in the face of efforts to undermine the world's economy, showing that individual artists, musicians, programmers, and inventors are receiving help from the government to protect their sources of income.

    Bullshit. So if I call up the FBI and inform them of copyright infringement of one of my works, they will help? Not likely, unless I also happen to be in the legal department of a Hollywood corporation.

    IP law in the United States is written to benefit corporations, not the artists, musicians, programmers, and inventors. The man who "invented" Mickey Mouse is long dead at this point, but the Disney corporation is still profiting from the its perpetual copyright. Whom does IP law benefit? Not its creator.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday December 24, 2010 @12:37PM (#34660478) Journal

    I feel like I'm taking the wrong side of the arguement - I mean I am generally okay with Blizzards business model though I haven't played any of their games in a while. Wavering back and forth on whether D3 will be worth the DRM, SC2 in my humble opinion wasn't worth the hassle. So any negative feelings towards Blizzard aren't based on any moral grounds or principles or anything like that, I am fine with them having their tight restrictive measures - it helps them crack down on things like bots, and if they want to do that all the more power to them.

    But I'm a little wary of claiming bot software is a DMCA violation. That is stretching it a little bit - because the DMCA is mainly meant for Copyright infringement, and also those who wish to get around DRM.

    The bot doesn't go against any laws besides those set forth by the Terms and Conditions you agree to when playing WoW. And it shouldn't be against the law, I am REALLY afraid of this being the first step towards bringing the lawyers and judicial system into the gaming realm where publishers will no doubt use it to strong-arm their ideas of whats best. Suppose Some 14 year old hacks in TF2 - Valve catches them, wants to make an example, sues them for damaging the content of other people's games, goes for some ridiculous statuatory amount in the multiple thousands, and /. covers the story!

    I dunno, it just doesn't seem like a good road to go down. Blizzard should be entirely responsible for keeping their house in order - if they can't do it, that should reflect on their product, or they should alter their product to handle it. Don't go to the police.

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday December 24, 2010 @12:45PM (#34660538)

    "Glider itself doesn't send or receive any data across the network, only the client does and that traffic is no different in nature or content than what could be generated by a human accessing the game client."

    The same could be said of using ssh to connect to a server, it is no different in nature or content from what a human could send.
    Yet if you used the ssh connection and a client side script to cause the server to send lots of spam that would be improper use of the connection.

    Wrong. A malicious script behind a ssh client is significantly different in nature and content. A regular human typing those same commands would be just as unauthorized as the script. But a human using the game client to generate the exact same commands as glider does would be considered authorized.

  • by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Friday December 24, 2010 @01:06PM (#34660656) Journal

    I'd like to see a reciept that says that millions are actually being dumped into preventing these guys.

    It would not be as difficult as they claim. If someone gets found using Glide, delete their account, ban their credit card from subscribing, don't let them use that email address to register for a new account.

    Make it entirely unprofitable to run an operation like this and you'll cut out a lot of riff-raff. Thing is they are afraid to get a false positive and the bad rap that comes with it. I should be allowed to download and run any software I want on my computer. I should be allowed to develop any software I want. If they want bots to be illegal, they should lobby to make it a law, not tack it onto the DMCA.

    Going after the developers of Glide is like going after the owners of BitTorrent, not the actual people distributing content.

    I just don't like it. It's abusing the system to meet their goals. No matter moral or just the goal is, the end does not justify the means. They shouldn't be using DMCA to achieve this.

  • Re:DMCA is useful? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 24, 2010 @02:03PM (#34660950)

    Blizzards owns the content to WoW, and the players are licensees (which shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody since they pay a subscription).

    And?

    The content inside WoW can only be accessed via a client which Blizzard controls.

    I understood glider uses the proper client.

    The content of WoW is copyright.

    This was NOT copyright infringement.

    WoW put safeguards up (via Warden) to prevent unauthorized access to this content.

    MDY circumvented Warden.

    Bypassing a game bot is also not a crime despite it's intimidating name.

    Open and shut case.

    Good thing you're not a lawyer.

  • The Golden Fence (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mateorabi (108522) on Friday December 24, 2010 @02:23PM (#34661080) Homepage
    Exactly. This was one of the most compelling complaints against DMCA when Congress passed it:

    In the name of copyright protection it allows the content creators to build a fence. This 'golden' fence gets a special status under the law and is protected by the DMCA and people who breach it are considered law breakers. But the gross injustice is that along with legitimate copyrightable works, the content creators can put whatever else they want behind the fence. Want to deny a fair use? Integrate such use tightly with the enforced-by-law copyright protection mechanism. Activities that others would legitimately be able to do with the content that aren't infringing become untouchable, because to do so they must cross that golden fence.

    In my opinion, if content creators overreach and try to prevent fair-use activities by fencing things off within their copyright protection/access control mechanisms (such as this case) then the access control technology should lose its special status as legally protected under 1201(a)(2).

    You are a content provider who wants the protection of the law/legal-threat for your access mechanism? Don't want 'violators' to get a free pass? Tough. Only protect things that you had the right to protect in the first place.

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