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The Courts Games

Lineage II Addiction Lawsuit Makes It Past the EULA 267

We recently discussed a man who sued NCsoft for making Lineage II "too addictive" after he spent 20,000 hours over five years playing it. Now, several readers have pointed out that the lawsuit has progressed past its first major hurdle: the EULA. Quoting: "NC Interactive has responded the way most software companies and online services have for more than a decade: it argued that the claims are barred by its end-user license agreement, which in this case capped the company's liability to the amount Smallwood paid in fees over six months prior to his filing his complaint (or thereabouts). One portion of the EULA specifically stated that lawsuits could only be brought in Texas state court in Travis County, where NC Interactive is located. ... But the judge in this case, US District Judge Alan C. Kay, noted that both Texas and Hawaii law bar contract provisions that waive in advance the ability to make gross-negligence claims. He also declined to dismiss Smallwood's claims for negligence, defamation, and negligent infliction of emotional distress."
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Lineage II Addiction Lawsuit Makes It Past the EULA

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  • by johnhp ( 1807490 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @03:31AM (#33446594)
    ... because if it does, I'll have a killer suit against Burger King for making their food too delicious.
    • because if it does, I'll have a killer suit against Burger King for making their food too delicious.

      Nah, let's start a class action suit against Slashdot. :)

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Nah, that would be dismissed immediately, unprovable claim.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by dangitman ( 862676 )

      Nah, sue Pringles - they even claim that once you pop you can't stop... but wait, does that legally constitute a warning and therefore relieve them of responsibility?

    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by notknown86 ( 1190215 )
      I have a killer suit against Burger King for damages to my toilet.
    • ... because if it does, I'll have a killer suit against Burger King for making their food too delicious.

      Unfortunately the judge would throw the case out as soon as he samples the product.

    • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) *

      You'll have to have a heart attack first. No monetary loss, no foul. Plus, if you smoke or do anything else bad for your heart (like sitting in front of a computer all day), you'll probably lose then too.

      Of course, IANAL...

  • Big "Uh Oh!" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @03:39AM (#33446640) Homepage

    Yeah... this attempt is very interesting. A Texas company writing a license agreement in a state requiring any legal claims against them be brought in Texas and limiting liabilities in ways that are expressly prohibited under Texas law? Hrm! Either that EULA came from a boiler-plate that originated from out of state (not a good excuse) or they simply thought they could get away with it and got caught. This is rather like the "new patent troll" story where people are trying to benefit themselves through legal means when they actually have no right to claim such.

    I wonder if the pendulum is actually starting to swing the other way now?

  • Can I sue my company for making me addicted to my job? Because of them, I get up at the same exact time and go to the same place everyday monday to friday where I meet same people and spend next 8 hours doing boring and repetitive stuff. If that's not addiction, then I don't know what it is.
    • by hldn ( 1085833 )

      probably not, but you could sue the world for making you addicted to money.

    • If that's not addiction, then I don't know what it is.

      You bring up a point there (jokingly, but the point is important I think): what is addiction?

      I'm going to suggest the following standard for judging if something is actual addiction or not, it should probably be a legally recognized standard. Let's call it the "Bob Saget in Half Baked standard," because I'm taking this from Bob Saget's character in Half Baked.

      If the person in question has performed fellatio for his or her "addiction," then it is an addiction. If he or she has not performed fellatio, then

  • Eaugh. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Securityemo ( 1407943 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @04:00AM (#33446736) Journal
    So this man played a game for an average of just under 12 hours a day, every day, for five years?
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      NCsoft should settle and give him vouchers for play time - its about all he deserves, and is better for NCSoft than paying out loads in lawyer fees.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Quirkz ( 1206400 )
        Well, the previous discussion had some points about this guy being banned from the game for selling in-game items for real-world money, which is possibly what caused to sue as a sort of revenge. I suspect they don't really want to encourage banned players to keep playing their game. Nor players who are in an adversarial relationship with them.
  • by OrangeTide ( 124937 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @04:00AM (#33446738) Homepage Journal

    that we're no longer responsible for our own actions.

    • by Beefchief ( 808968 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:03AM (#33446956)
      Don't worry, it's not your fault.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Skuld-Chan ( 302449 )

        I have a feeling that if NCSoft put "warning this game has been proven by Court Precident to be extremely addicting" more people would pick it up.

        Seriously though - while I believe this lawsuit is pretty dumb (this is right up there with suing a crack dealer because he/she didn't warn you about how addictive it is) some people take addictions differently. I've experimented with various recreational drugs/alcohol etc - many of which are potentially addictive and walked away in each case never to do it again,

    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

      that we're no longer responsible for our own actions.

      The "good": this is why the governments feel the need to step in and protect you.
      The 'bad": the govs are made of people equally no longer responsible for their actions!
      The "ugly": while your lack of responsibility is potentially punishable, theirs are not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by grumbel ( 592662 )

      And why exactly shouldn't NCsoft we responsible for their actions or lack their off too?

      Assume for a moment that MMORPGs can be addictive for some people and assume further that NCsoft has hard data on that. Then that means that they would knowingly let people run into addiction issues and do nothing about it, quite the opposite, they would happily continue to collect the monthly fee. Isn't that negligence or at least not far off? Especially considering that it would be rather simple to do something about i

  • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @04:15AM (#33446796) Journal
    It's a stupid lawsuit, but I favor any ruling that weakens the EULA. Those things are near-evil.
    • by johnhp ( 1807490 )
      If EULAs were written in plain language, and required that you sign them at the time of purchase, they'd be fine. But all of the "by opening this software" EULAs are bullshit by definition.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by notknown86 ( 1190215 )

        If EULAs were written in plain language, and required that you sign them at the time of purchase, they'd be fine. But all of the "by opening this software" EULAs are bullshit by definition.

        They don't do that anymore because people starting reconsidering the purchase when they hit the "first born child" and "immortal soul" clauses...

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'd argue that they're full evil - assuming my understanding of contract law is accurate (and it may very well be wrong).

      Contract law requires that the terms of the contract be present before someone purchases the good/service. With software, you get hit with a nice big EULA long after the purchase. They want it both ways: They want to restrict what you can and can't do with their software and have contractual protection against breaches, but they don't want the burden of having to tell people that up front

    • by sco08y ( 615665 )

      It's a stupid lawsuit, but I favor any ruling that weakens the EULA. Those things are near-evil.

      I'm hesitant to gut EULAs.

      If you're trying to start a business involving software, you wind up taking on risk, like any business.

      Without legal protections, you can still operate, but you take on more risk. You can mitigate this through insurance, but it's expensive.

      If you're trying to raise capital, your investors are going to look at how much risk you've got, because more risk means lower expected returns. That means you're going to get less capital.

      It won't kill off the business, by any means. But the lar

      • by SirJorgelOfBorgel ( 897488 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @08:34AM (#33448078)

        As co-owner of a small software house, I agree.

        We have aggressive EULA's as well, but as we're based in Europe we also have strong consumer laws to work with. The EULA's main purpose is to stop lawsuits dead in their tracks and just be reasonable about usage.

        Sure, if the software doesn't work as the user expects it to, we will either attempt to fix it first or issue a refund. Its the user's choice whether we try to fix it first or refund immediately (no questions asked), if the refund request is made within 30 days of purchase. We generally offer a refund long beyond those 30 days as well, we have free fully-functional 21-day trial versions, and you have to agree to the EULA before even purchasing. The EULA is clearly linked, not hidden, and a refund request can be done by a simple email. We even allow you to use a single copy on all your computers instead of purchasing a copy per computer. I know, people usually do this with all their software, but it is usually against the EULA.

        We find this entirely reasonable and gives the user more than enough chance to see if it works as they expect it to, and is actually more lenient to the end-users than is legally required. The right to refund (in our case) is only 7 days, and the manufacturer (us) has the right to attempt a fix 3 times before having to refund.

        But you still need the EULA as developers, because the liability is insane. For example, say you were walking around while holding your netbook in one hand and typing on it with the other, while the software is running (which is a pretty weird thing to do in any case), and you walk under a bus, we may actually be liable under law. I've never heard of an actual case like this, but legally, it's possible. So the EULA needs a clause which disallows you from usage when usage could result in serious injury to anyone (not just the user). That's just one of a great many examples. As over here it's not allowed to simply have a clause which waives liability for many cases, each case like this needs to be covered explicitly by the EULA.

        And even with a strong EULA, you simply can't cover all these cases. Luckily, the place we operate from is not (yet) a sueing society like the USA, and awarded damages are usually limited to provable loss (and not some arbitrary number some money hungry lawyer thought up, or emotional damage and whatnot). Add to that that due to our exact situation - contrary to what someone posted above - we actually are able to limit the court's location where you can sue us to our own country.

        Still, the possibility for insane lawsuits are still there, and simply cannot be fully covered by an EULA.

        Now ask the question, what is wrong here? Are we manufacturers evil for trying to protect ourselves from people seeking to make an easy buck at our expense? We could cover that, but then a single copy would not cost $15, it would cost $15000. I sincerely doubt the average end-user would like to pay that amount for software. Or are the laws insane for allowing end-users to act irresponsibly and then succesfully blaming others for their own mistakes? In my book that is behaviour you try to teach kids not to have, though it seems a great many missed that part of their education.

        If laws, end-users, and manufcaturers would simply be reasonable, EULA's would not be needed. Blame not the manufacturer for including a EULA, blame the law for needing one! We work hard for our money just like you do, and no, we don't think you're entitled to our life savings because you stubbed your toe.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by hedwards ( 940851 )
        But, if one doesn't have the ability to read it ahead of time, have it explained to oneself and have the ability to negotiate it, then it's probably not legally binding anyways. The fact that the courts have a habit of finding otherwise is extremely troubling. In my view any contract which requires an attorney to interpret had damn well be dealing with enough money to make it worthwhile for both parties. Buying a $50 piece of software and requiring the customer to spend $200 in attorneys fees to understand
    • If by weakens, you mean forces everyone to make a stronger EULA, one that protects them against this kind of lawsuit, then yeah, this is really going to weaken EULAs

    • Write out 100 times: My enemy's enemy is not necessarily my friend.

      See also: US foreign policy since ... well, pretty much forever.

      • And that will change precisely when it starts hurting conservative politicians. For them it's been working out brilliantly. It gives them a guaranteed source of future threats to scare the crap out of the populace with. Go on a pointless war somewhere else to get people to rally around the flag and use this as subterfuge to take away more of the people's stuff and give it to the rich. I'm not really seeing a downside for the morons that do it.
  • It must be nice! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by uxbn_kuribo ( 1146975 ) on Thursday September 02, 2010 @05:47AM (#33447130)
    So basically, he's suing for 3 million dollars over 5 years because he's addicted to a video game? If he won, that would make him the first person to make $600,000 a year playing video games. At 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, that averages out to $288.46 cents an hour for playing Lineage 2. Most of us will never make that sort of money doing anything, let alone for playing an MMO.
  • Obvious (Score:2, Funny)

    by MadKeithV ( 102058 )
    Of *course* the lawsuit made it past the EULA - who reads those, ever?
    The judge probably just thought "blah blah blah, click OK".

Each honest calling, each walk of life, has its own elite, its own aristocracy based on excellence of performance. -- James Bryant Conant