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The Courts Software Games

Blizzard Wins Legal Battle Against WoW Bot Company 285

New submitter gamersunited writes with news of Blizzard Entertainment's defeat of another company that created bot software to automate World of Warcraft characters. Ceiling Fan Software faces a judgment of $7 million, and must disable any active licenses for the software. They're also forbidden from transferring or open-sourcing the bot software, and from facilitating its continued use in any way. The court order (PDF) follows more than two years of legal wrangling. Blizzard won a similar judgment a few years ago against another bot company called MDY Industries, which created the popular Glider bot.
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Blizzard Wins Legal Battle Against WoW Bot Company

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Only in the US where the ruling was made surely.

    Is it enforceable elsewhere in the world?

  • ALl you need to do (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @05:49PM (#45147373) Homepage Journal

    is label it an aid for disabled players. Get ADA, Blizzard won't stand a chance.

    • is label it an aid for disabled players

      People with the total locked-in syndrome also want to play!

    • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

      Except that the LUA system that blizzard uses already allows people with disabilities to play easily. In fact, there's no shortage of mods that make it easy to play for those who are colour blind, or can only use one arm. And not forgetting that you can buy no shortage of mice, or keyboards that are fully programmable to do everything you want.

      There's no way that an automated gameplay element would stand on the ADA.

  • by Captain Kirk ( 148843 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @05:51PM (#45147401) Homepage Journal

    Blizzard sued my company in Germany and we are still trading. The reason is that Americans can't avoid the broad restrictions of the DMCA while Europeans are able to work within existing copyright and trademark law. The DMCA is simply a way of closing creative American companies so the business is done from overseas.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Blizzard originally sued bot companies based on copyright. Now, they're suing based on violations of the EULA (end user license agreement) and TOS (terms of service). Bots violate both, plain and simple. Your company might get sued again, if Europeans laws support EULAs and TOSs.

      • by alexo ( 9335 )

        What if you use the clean room approach where the developers of the software never play the game and therefore need not agree to the EULA/TOS?

  • by richlv ( 778496 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @06:09PM (#45147553)

    They're also forbidden from ... open-sourcing the bot software

    now that's messed up. although the source code could always be "stolen"...

    • by mark-t ( 151149 )
      If it were... particularly now, they'd probably have to prove that it was actually stolen with official records of a break in or whatnot... if they were unable to or unwilling to supply such records, it would probably be assumed that they were complicit in the alleged "theft".
      • by richlv ( 778496 )

        that would be hard, right ? :)
        leave unpatched software here, root password in bash history there...

    • by DaHat ( 247651 )

      In which case Blizzard goes to court asking the judge to hold the defendants in contempt for violating his/her order.

      Defendant: "But the code was stolen, there was nothing we could have done!"

      Judge: "Did you file a police report?'

      Defendant: "No, we..."

      Judge: "What steps did you take to prevent this kind of theft?"

      Defendant: "Um..."

      Judge: *gavel bang* "I find you in contempt of this court..."

  • Grindfest (Score:4, Funny)

    by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @06:16PM (#45147593)

    If you think World of Warcraft is a grindfest you obviously never played Final Fantasy XI.

  • I botted hard (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Bots are an awesome addition to the game in my opinion. It allows you to enjoy the fun parts of the game while not having to deal with all the monotonous portions needed to attain said fun. I didn't feel like having a serving l second full time job by playing wow. Bots make that possible.

  • ... I just read the court order and there's nothing I could see in there that suppresses the defendants' ability to freely pass along the ideas that were contained in the code.

    In other words, they don't need to openly publish the source code to release it... they can just openly publish the methods that were utilized, and let other developers write their own bots in the language of their own choosing.

    • 2. Defendants and all persons acting under Defendants’ direction, supervision, and/or control (including but not limited to Defendants’ agents, representatives and employees), will immediately and permanently cease and desist from:
      E. Knowingly assisting, facilitating, or enabling any persons or entities, directly or indirectly, to engage in any of the activities prohibited by the foregoing Paragraphs 2(A) through 2(D); and
      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        Hmm.... didn't catch that bit. Kinda weird that a court would permanently ban you from publishing facts that anyone else who does the exact same research could also discover.
      • by mark-t ( 151149 )
        It's worth pointing out that what they've already done could constitute indirectly facilitating or enabling other people to do something similar, since it's also probably possible for somebody else to reverse engineer what they already did.

Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.