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The Courts Games

Blizzard Sues Starcraft II Cheat Creators 252

Posted by Soulskill
from the zerging-with-lawyers dept.
qubezz writes: "TorrentFreak reports that on Monday, Blizzard filed a lawsuit in US District court in California against the programmers behind the popular Starcraft II cheat 'ValiantChaos MapHack.' The complaint seeks relief from 'direct copyright infringement,' 'contributory copyright infringement,' 'vicarious copyright infringement,' 'trafficking in circumvention devices,' etc. The suit seeks the identity of the cheat's programmers, as it fishes for names of John Does 1-10, in addition to an injunction against the software (which remains on sale) and punitive damages. Blizzard claims losses from diminished user experiences, and also that 'when users of the Hacks download, install, and use the Hacks, they directly infringe Blizzard's copyright in StarCraft II, including by creating unauthorized derivative works"."
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Blizzard Sues Starcraft II Cheat Creators

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  • Blizzard Shizzard (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @05:58PM (#47060769)

    Suing programmers for their creation is a very bad practice. As code is a form of speech, denying someone a freedom of it is against a democratic constitution.

    I'd like to see Blizzy sued to bankruptcy for this stupidity. But alas, pigs don't fly now do they?

    • by gl4ss (559668) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @06:03PM (#47060825) Homepage Journal

      they're just suing since despite tying their game to their servers they still haven't figured out the shit enough to not transmit troop positions or map pieces to the client the client shouldn't know about - and they pretend to be serious about competitive online play.

      (how come the suit is not for people who actually cracked the copy protection??)

      (in other news this would make "unauthorized mods" illegal)

      • by dave562 (969951)

        Have they not figured it out, or is the solution too compute intensive on the server?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          It's about latency and responsiveness, and client side prediction, and the fact that both clients have to be in perfect sync. It has nothing to do with computational complexity. Consider the Terran ability to scan any part of the map to reveal units. That information has to be almost instantly available to the scanning player regardless of the number of units revealed. If the other player had their entire army in that location along with some buildings, it would take a long time to transmit all of that data

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          they certainly have the money to run it on server(and still be on profit about the game).

          it's just something that would need in the development phase a totally different attitude to creating the product instead of going about it like it was 1995. it would also save bandwidth for them to do it properly - and may I remind you this is the company that still pretends being tied to playing Diablo 3 only when connected to the servers is essential for making the "complex" gameplay _possible_ and was not done for t

          • by AK Marc (707885)

            blizzard have always been fucks about this and you can go to slashdot archives going back way more than a decade to find shit about them suing people for making software other devs would praise for having been created...(bnet sue days. but those were also sued because they were already positioning battle.net as an antipiracy device to take away value from paid customers)

            That and I *hate* their legal argument. If someone makes an app they don't like, they claim it breaks ToS (or change ToS to make it break ToS) and then sue them for breaking the ToS of a 3rd party. It's just an evil argument. If someone "helps" me break my ToS, then I and only I should be responsible. Claiming that my ToS breach is a copyright violation, and that they are therefore inducing, causing, and otherwise breaking copyright.

      • by alphatel (1450715) *

        they're just suing since despite tying their game to their servers they still haven't figured out the shit enough to not transmit troop positions or map pieces to the client the client shouldn't know about - and they pretend to be serious about competitive online play.

        You're right. I don't see what the problem is. However, because someone makes a profit off of the company's failure that's where the loophole is, as far as the civil courts are concerned. Alternatively, if you create a cheat based on data packets sent to the client, even in this piss-poor environment of protect-the-corporation-first, you'd still probably get away with it, although you'd likely spend a miserable few years back and forth in court.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        This can be explained very simply even to people with no technical knowledge ... lawyers for example.

        The memory in your computer belongs to you. If Blizzard's game writes troop positions into your computer's memory, reading those positions is your right as the owner of this equipment --- after all, it's a pattern of bits in memory owned by you. No company can disallow you access to the equipment that you own. They don't own it, you do.

        Everything else in this case hinges on that fact. The Blizzard progra

      • by Bengie (1121981)
        There's some pretty cool theoretical math on making an RTS where data isn't shared until it needs to be, but no one has been able to properly implement it yet. The problem comes down to trusting the client.
    • It's cheating, whether it's in the form of software, or a cash bribe to the refs. I think cheating is worth very little in terms of free speech value.
      • by mwvdlee (775178)

        Regardless, it's still not any kind of copyright infringement.
        Possibly some sort of infringement, if the data was reasonably encrypted, but even that seems far fetched.

      • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @07:30PM (#47061677)

        It's cheating, whether it's in the form of software, or a cash bribe to the refs. I think cheating is worth very little in terms of free speech value.

        Lucky for us, you don't get to decide what is free speech. I hate cheating, and blizzard should definitely do something about it. But trying to control what other people do? No... this is a game. It's not worth harming my constitutional freedoms just so you can be less annoyed.

        Blizzard should handle this in the code. It's not that hard. 10 years ago I remember hearing at a conference about on-line gaming "If their client has the data, they have the data. You cannot trust the client, ever." It's as true now as it was then.

        • by firex726 (1188453)

          Exactly, cheating should be handed in-house, not through the legal system. They designed a poor system and are just trying to sue people away from exploiting it then fixing it like every other major multiplayer game.

      • It's cheating,

        Creating software is not cheating. Those who use software tools as means to gain unfair advantage are the ones engaged in cheating.

    • by mopower70 (250015)

      Suing programmers for their creation is a very bad practice. As code is a form of speech, denying someone a freedom of it is against a democratic constitution.

      I'd like to see Blizzy sued to bankruptcy for this stupidity. But alas, pigs don't fly now do they?

      I'd post that idiocy anonymously too. A) Freedom of speech is freedom from legal suppression. You do not have the right to say whatever you wish. B) Just like you can't yell fire in a crowded theater, you can't release code whose intent or effect is to infringe on someone else's rights. Under your perverse logic, anti-virus software would be "unconstitutional censorship."

      • Anti-virus software is technological, not legal, so it wouldn't be the result of his logic. You are arguing that DeCSS should be illegal, which is outright ridiculous.
      • you can't release code whose intent or effect is to infringe on someone else's rights.

        Affect of '-f' option in unix ping utility could very well infringe on my right to maintain a presence on the Internet. Does this mean coders of flag need to be carted off to jail or sued for untold trillions?

        Act of invoking lawsuits to solve technical deficiencies and lack of willingness to tolerate those who piss you off significantly lowers my opinion of Blizzard.

        Under your perverse logic, anti-virus software would be "unconstitutional censorship."

        There seems to be plenty of perverse logic to go around.

      • A) Freedom of speech is freedom from legal suppression.

        Who do you think enforces all of this? Government thugs.

        B) Just like you can't yell fire in a crowded theater

        That court decision resulted in war protestors being arrested. Stop citing it as an example of something that's morally right. And the first amendment says no such thing.

        you can't release code whose intent or effect is to infringe on someone else's rights.

        Sure you can. Anyone who says otherwise despises freedom of speech and the constitution.

        And going after people just because they have certain software on their computers that allows them to handle data sent to them in certain ways is fucking absurd. No, this is even worse, as this is a

    • by BitterOak (537666)

      Suing programmers for their creation is a very bad practice. As code is a form of speech, denying someone a freedom of it is against a democratic constitution.

      The First Amendment free speech protections don't cover copyright violation, and it's Blizzard's position that this software is a derivative work of their software, and therefore infringes on their copyright. Whether it is or not is up to the courts to decide, but this isn't a free speech issue.

      • Actually, First Amendment free speech protections do cover works that would be copyright violation outside of the First Amendment. Fair Use stems from the First Amendment, and the arguments here would be whether or not this is Fair Use.
      • The first amendment comes after the copyright clause.

        Also, the concept of free speech is different from the first amendment; the first amendment is merely a means of protecting free speech.

        And copyright is pretty much always related to free speech. That is, as long as you try to enforce copyright, you'll be infringing upon people's free speech rights and promoting censorship, which is intolerable. Fortunately, copyright has pretty much lost that battle, as it's an unrealistic goal.

      • by mark-t (151149)
        Actually, since cheating at a game can in many ways be said to not be taking said game very seriously, considering such a game cheat system as a derivative work might reasonably make said system a parody or satirical derivative work of their software, and thus exempt from copyright infringement.
    • I'm willing to wager the cheat ships with copyrighted blizzard binaries/code. No free speech issue there
      • by Pinhedd (1661735)

        That's possible, and I wouldn't be surprised if some do, but it is my understanding that most cheats inject themselves into the program code at runtime rather than replace the program code entirely. It may be more appropriate to say that they are carefully crafted to work with the copyrighted binaries rather than ship with the copyrighted binaries themselves.

    • I'd like to see Blizzy sued to bankruptcy for this stupidity. But alas, pigs don't fly now do they?

      I'm sure you could write a mod for that last part...

    • by westlake (615356)

      As code is a form of speech, denying someone a freedom of it is against a democratic constitution.

      You won't find unlimited freedom of speech embodied anywhere in American law.

      Free speech in American law began with the right to hold to hold unpopular ideas and defend them in open and unconstrained political debate .It has been extended to protect freedom of expression in the arts from governmental interference.

      It has never been defined as an unfettered right to lie, cheat and steal.

      Code can be used to express an idea.

      But most often it is simply a means to achieve some more mundane purpose. To t

      • It has been extended to protect freedom of expression in the arts from governmental interference.

        You mean the same government that will enforce this decision? You think the government isn't involved when someone is being sued?

        It has never been defined as an unfettered right to lie, cheat and steal.

        There is no lying, cheating, or stealing here in the traditional sense. Just someone who made software that allows other people to handle data sent to them in certain ways - that's all.

        Anyone who thinks suing (and winning) for this is even remotely okay is anti-freedom.

        But most often it is simply a means to achieve some more mundane purpose. To turn on the lights. To flush the toilet.

        That makes no difference. Code, as well as your comment, is merely data.

        • by reikae (80981)

          Anyone who thinks suing (and winning) for this is even remotely okay is anti-freedom.

          I'm not sure I agree with this. Shouldn't an offended* party be allowed the opportunity to settle their grievances in a court of law?


          (* even if the offense seems really minor or imaginary to impartial observers)

  • You don't have the right to modify software? I thought copyright only covered making copies, at least initially?

    A tool that uses a small bit under fair use to match binary offsets or checksums should not be copyright infringement. I'm pretty afraid that some well meaning judge that wishes to protect players would establish some bad precedence here.

    • No, derivative works have always been covered as well. However, there have traditionally been exceptions, such as derivative works that are parodies of the original.

      It's a relatively recent example, but see The Wind Done Gone [wikipedia.org].

    • Copyright is a sideshow in this matter... It's the circumvention that's the main issue. If I installed a key logger on your PC, would you even care if I had obeyed copyright law in obtaining that software? Cheat software in a multiplayer context is no different than key logging malware, in that it has a deleterious effect on the people playing the game.
  • I think Blizzard did plenty on their own to diminish user experience on many of their new games.

  • Between doing something for the lulz and doing it for profit. The former gives you a slight nod from various interesting parties at Blizzard, the later gets you lawyers so far up your @$$ that you'd better live in a country not known for extraditing citizen to the US to avoid a severe pounding by the penal system.

  • In theory, if you had the hack written using a clean room design, the only person who could be liable for violating the ToS would be the person who bought the game and ripped it apart to figure out the hack.

  • WTF is that?

    I guess those Evil h4xx0rz had better go sit over on the Group W Bench.

  • by Vermifax (3687) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @09:05PM (#47062291)

    Doesn't surprise me at all, they already won this same type of lawsuit against cheat programmers for World of Warcraft.

  • open battlenet (Score:3, Informative)

    by SumDog (466607) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @10:26PM (#47062639) Homepage Journal

    Anyone remember open battlenet? Idiot judge in that case shut down the totally open-source, non-commerical open battle net server which allowed people to run their own private Startcraft/Warcraft servers on their own private networks. Sure it could allow people to play others without a valid serial number, but it opened up another very interesting legal question: can certain software be considered illegal?

    Fuck Blizzard.

  • by HockeyPuck (141947) on Wednesday May 21, 2014 @11:22PM (#47062865)

    ...It's Blizzard and their lack of willingness to properly balance the game.

    Protoss has no repercussions for doing any of a dozen types of proxy or "all-in" openings.

  • They should just use the Spring RTS engine. It's far superior to anything Blizzard can conjure up internally.

    In other news... Hasbro sues my kid sister for cheating at monopoly by hiding monopoly money.

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