Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Courts Government Role Playing (Games) News Entertainment Games

Blizzard Wins Major Lawsuit Against Bot Developers 838

Posted by kdawson
from the gliding-off-into-the-sunset dept.
Captain Kirk writes "World of Warcraft owners Blizzard have won their case against the programmer who wrote Glider, Michael Donnelly. (We discussed the case here when it was filed.) Blizzard won on two arguments: first, that if a game is loaded into RAM, that can be considered an unauthorized copy of the game and as such a breach of copyright; second, that selling Glider was interfering with Blizzard's contractual relationship with its customers. The net effect? If you buy a game, you transfer rights to the game developer that they can sue you for."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Blizzard Wins Major Lawsuit Against Bot Developers

Comments Filter:
  • Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:02PM (#24189495)
    The problem with this, is the game isn't 100% loaded into RAM (as far as I know) meaning that only part of it is. This could have a much larger impact by calling this small piece of the game the game itself, perhaps leading to smaller sample times of songs, etc.
  • by KookyMan (850095) on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:05PM (#24189529)

    Wow.

    I guess now the *AA can now start telling us what hardware we're allowed to play movies/music on, and simply loading it into RAM on a non-approved device constitutes copyright infringement, as a copy is being made in a way not granted under the license.

    Lets here it for vinyl. Nothing is ever removed, just vibrations sent down the needle to the speaker. (Talking about the old phonographs.)

  • Re:Copyright? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by d3ac0n (715594) on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:09PM (#24189565)

    My thoughts exactly. the RIAA would have a FIELD DAY with this ruling. It basically says that you can't play ANY song in digital format on a PC since it's necessary to load it into RAM in order to get it to play. GAH!

    Thankfully, this IS the Ninth "Circus" Court, the single most overturned federal bench in all of American Jurisprudence. I expect there will be an appeal and a smarter outcome in a smarter court.

    I hope so, anyway.

  • I'd love to see... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dahitokiri (1113461) on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:09PM (#24189581)
    someone make copyrighted spyware/adware and spread it about and then start suing people just so this BS precedent can be struck down before the MAFIAA has a chance to use it to their advantage.
  • by torkus (1133985) on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:14PM (#24189643)

    And that's why I don't understand how bliz won this case. You get fair use over you music and, despite their best efforts, the MAFIAA hasn't been able to stop you from ripping CDs to your computer and MP3 player.

    How is it that software can be treated so differently? I don't buy into the click-thru EULA's as 1) there's no proof that the individual in question was the one to accept it and 2) existing laws supercede an arguably invalid contract.

  • EULA Repurcussions? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Bob9113 (14996) on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:19PM (#24189689) Homepage

    Blizzard owns a valid copyright in the game client software, Blizzard has granted a limited license for WoW players to use the software, use of the software with Glider falls outside the scope of the license established in section 4 of the TOU, use of Glider includes copying to RAM within the meaning of section 106 of the Copyright Act, users of WoW and Glider are not entitled to a section 117 defense, and Glider users therefore infringe Blizzard's copyright. MDY does not dispute that the other requirements for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement are met, nor has MDY established a misuse defense. The Court accordingly will grant summary judgment in favor of Blizzard with respect to liability on the contributory and vicarious copyright infringement claims in Counts II and III.

    I think this means that TOUs/TOSs/EULAs now have the full force of copyright law, if a copyrightable portion of the media reaches your computer.

    The section 117 defense is this:

    that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner

    If you're violating the EULA, it is "used in an other manner".

    You know that tiny little link, "terms of use", at the bottom of every web page you visit? Better read that 20 page document behind that link, or you could be infringing copyright without even knowing it.

  • Re:Say what? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Xylaan (795464) on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:21PM (#24189713)
    Ah, but the theory is you have a license to use the software, so you can copy it into RAM all you want*

    Until you break the license. Then it's copyright infringement time.
    * Some restrictions apply, all rights reserved.
  • by zonky (1153039) on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:24PM (#24189735)
    who was being sued in not that dis-similar situation by a well known RTS series publisher. One of the things we were being accused of was direct copyright infringement. Apparently, we had a copy of a file named EXACTLY THE SAME as they had on their CD. Setup.exe Never underestimate the stupidity of the courts/lawyers in technical matters.
  • by frovingslosh (582462) on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:24PM (#24189745)
    If the copy of a Game in RAM where it needs to be (at least in part) is somehow an illegal copy, then isn't the copy on hard disk also? Perhaps even opening the box will soon become illegal, as it could be taken as a sign of criminal intent.

    I guess Blizzard is feeling real good about themselves for winning this suit. And I feel strongly that there should be a consumer backlash about the way that they did it.

  • by sowth (748135) on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:24PM (#24189747) Journal

    The RIAA? What about software companies? Ever hear of the BSA? If any of them can selectively prosecute anyone who runs their programs even if it was legally paid for, then we are all in trouble.

    Though, I finally got through to the site, and it may not be quite as bad. It looks as though the court found you have to obey the EULA. I'm not sure I like that either. After all, you often don't get to see the EULA until after you buy the software and open the box. Even more so, because the stores claim some "copyright law" requires it, they won't take back opened software. Certainly sounds like they are making people sign a blank contract to me...

  • This is bad news (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Orion Blastar (457579) <[orionblastar] [at] [gmail.com]> on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:39PM (#24189857) Homepage Journal

    because if someone writes a plug-in to help gamers, they will use this case to sue them as well.

    This case shows that no consumer can own a copy of a video game, the game development company still owns the copy but only gives the consumer the right to use it in a native copy of Windows, and not modify it in any way. I guess it also means you cannot sell it used, nor can you run it inside of WINE, or a virtual machine or emulator either. You can only run it in a native copy of Windows, anything else is considered modifying it and violating the EULA and could get you sued.

  • Re:Wow... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:40PM (#24189861) Homepage Journal
    Granted, but that's not what the lawsuit was about. It was about anti-cheating mechanisms being circumvented and the game being run subordinately to another process.
  • by m.ducharme (1082683) on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:42PM (#24189887)

    What makes the copy illegal is not that it was put in ram, but the way it was put there.

    Click on the WoW executable, windows sticks a copy in RAM; that's a legal copy, per the license agreement.

    Click on the Glider executable, glider calls the WoW executable, that's an unlicensed copy of WoW and hence is infringing.

    The specific copy of WoW in your RAM is illegal not because it's a copy, but because of how it got there.

  • by witekr (971989) on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:53PM (#24189981) Homepage
    Interesting. I've always thought that the best game bot would be a piece of hardware that connects to the monitor output of the graphics card and into a USB port, acting as a mouse/keyboard. It could send the image data to some AI-like software which basically plays the game for you as any human would.. Opens a whole other can of worms. Robot AI's should be able to enjoy playing games too !!
  • Thankfully, this IS the Ninth "Circus" Court, the single most overturned federal bench in all of American Jurisprudence.

    Most overturned by number of cases, or by percent of cases? If by number of cases, please consider that the Ninth Circuit has jurisdiction over a far larger population than any other court of appeals in the United States. In fact, it covers over 19 percent of the U.S. population.

  • by stinerman (812158) <nathan@stine.gmail@com> on Monday July 14, 2008 @08:57PM (#24190013) Homepage

    But doesn't 17 USC 117 protect ordinary operation of the program?

    Notwithstanding the provisions of section 106, it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
    (1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner

    I'd hope that copying the program into RAM is an "essential step in the utilization of the computer program". Am I missing something here?

  • by zonky (1153039) on Monday July 14, 2008 @09:09PM (#24190145)
    Never went to trial; the smaller company went bust first. Legal fee's probably didn't help.
  • by AK Marc (707885) on Monday July 14, 2008 @09:10PM (#24190155)
    Glider doesn't make the copy. If the user loads the game first, then loads Glider, then the copy was authorized to make at the time it was made.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 14, 2008 @09:11PM (#24190165)

    OK, let me break this down for everyone (I am a law student).

    What the decision is saying is that, under 9th Circuit law, it is "copying" to move a program from storage to RAM. So, any time you load a game, you are copying it. If you do this in violation of the EULA and TOU, which in this case prohibit you from loading the game in to RAM at the same time as running the Glider software, you are not authorized to copy the game. This is a copyright infringement. The reason Blizzard chose this method was to have some cause of action directly against MDY, because otherwise it would be a breach of contract suit against the users (who are judgment-proof) for breach of contract damages alone, which are so small as to be non-existent.

    The decision is relevant in the 9th Cir. only, but the reasoning appears substantially correct. The rule that copying in to RAM is copying under the terms of the Copyright Act is not unique to this case: it is in fact cited under previous authority. This case rather simply applies this standard and says that it is a violation of the EULA to use a bot like Glider, and that copying in violation of the EULA/TOU is sufficient to constitute a copyright infringement.

    But at the same time if a company has one program and doesn't like a different web browser (like Opera) they could ban you from using opera while their program is running. This is a bunk decision on that alone. Slippery slope here, just name programs you don't like and be able to sue the pants off of the programmers / companies of those programs.

  • by UncleTogie (1004853) * on Monday July 14, 2008 @09:24PM (#24190287) Homepage Journal

    But at the same time if a company has one program and doesn't like a different web browser (like Opera) they could ban you from using opera while their program is running.

    "Your choice of software has been approved, Comrade. We'll be watching..."

    How long before other major software developers start using this to stifle innovation and competition? 'specially {though I'll not name names} the "popular" OS firms...

  • by zavyman (32136) on Monday July 14, 2008 @09:45PM (#24190469)

    Compare section 109's language "the owner of a particular copy" to 117's "the owner of a copy". It's virtually identical, and courts (not this one) have treated it as such. I don't know how you can own a physical disc but not own a copy of its contents. That seems almost nonsensical.

  • Re:Wow... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by JoelKatz (46478) on Monday July 14, 2008 @10:03PM (#24190605)

    But you only use one copy. The other copies are there to bypass functional checks. This is legal under scenes a faire.

    To put it another way, the copy they patch is the one that you are lawfully using. The other copies exist only to pass a security check, where only that exact code will pass the check. Copyright doesn't cover cases where there is only one way to get something done, you need patent for that. Copyright only covers one way out of millions of equally good ways. What are the other equally good ways to pass Blizzard's security check?

  • Re:Wow... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by AntiNazi (844331) on Monday July 14, 2008 @10:13PM (#24190669) Homepage
    While we are just "most likely"ing, I'd say that most likely this isn't the case given that many times over Blizzard staff has publicly affirmed that one person playing numerous characters simultaneously is acceptable, never claiming that this required ONE computer per ONE copy. I know plenty of people that have played multiple characters on one machine at the same time (me being one of them) and none of us have gotten sued.
  • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by schon (31600) on Monday July 14, 2008 @10:33PM (#24190855)

    you're guilty of copyright infringement simply by using the product that you paid to use. Quite the precedent.

    It's also completely and utterly wrong, according to copyright law.

    US Title 17, section 117 [copyright.gov] explicitly states that copying a program into RAM so you can use it is not an infringement.

    it is not an infringement for the owner of a copy of a computer program to make or authorize the making of another copy or adaptation of that computer program provided:
    (1) that such a new copy or adaptation is created as an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine and that it is used in no other manner

    The judge quite clearly erred in application of this statute. IIRC the law was amended specifically because of courts ruling that copying to RAM was infringement (which the judge apparently didn't understand.)

    This is pretty much a slam-dunk appeal.

  • Re:Wow... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @12:15AM (#24191643)

    Couldn't the judge be interpreting "and that it is used in no other manner" to mean that Glider is using the RAM copy of the game in a manner other than "an essential step in the utilization of the computer program in conjunction with a machine"?

  • Re:Wow... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Kristoph (242780) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @01:07AM (#24192007)

    The court essentially found that if you violate the EULA then the use of the software constitutes a copyright violation.

    This is the only precedent here and it's hardly an alarming one.

  • by Kristoph (242780) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @01:19AM (#24192089)

    If the EULA says you cannot mod or you cannot create an add-on then you can't. Just don't use that software.

    Your second paragraph is just totally stupid. You have a choice to support vendors with permissive EULA's. Alternatively, you have a choice to use Blizzard software which does everything it can to protect gameplay. The point is YOU HAVE A CHOICE.

  • Ouch. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Xest (935314) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @04:23AM (#24192955)

    There goes the legality of most current Virus Scanners in the US then.

  • by KGIII (973947) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @05:41AM (#24193347) Journal
    No, buying the software would be outside your pay scale. You bought a license to USE that software under a certain set of rules. I don't like 'em either but that is how it works in the current system. You paid $50 for a license to drive an automobile, that doesn't mean you can drive any way you want nor does it mean you can drive anything you want and not accept the penalties. I don't LIKE the ruling any more than you but he was following the law as the law is both intended and writen.
  • by Xest (935314) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @06:06AM (#24193479)

    Blizzards own Warden program sits inspecting other files and processes on your system to ensure they're not cheating tools, this is easily and equally demonstrable as against the EULA/ToS of the other applications it scans.

    In winning this case, Blizzard have quite arguably declared their own Warden anti-cheating application illegal.

  • by Abcd1234 (188840) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @10:30AM (#24195947) Homepage

    No, because section 117(a) of the copyright code gives you the right to copy a piece of software into RAM as part of the process of executing/utilizing that software.

    That said, what you *can't* do is copy the software into RAM for some other purpose (for example, patching it in order to introduce a cheat).

    It's still a ridiculous ruling, at least in my mind, but it's certainly in line with existing law.

  • Re:Wow... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by throx (42621) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @11:41AM (#24197147) Homepage

    If you'd read the opinion from the Judge, he took that exact paragraph into consideration. His determination was that the end user is not an "owner of a copy" but a "licensee of a copy" and therefore it does not apply.

    There's a lot of language from the Judge in there that makes me think he wants it appealed though. He mentions a couple of times that he can't overturn a 9th Circuit ruling...

  • Re:Wow... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by WNight (23683) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @12:15PM (#24197829) Homepage

    The reality is that you're buying software. Can you think of any proof that you don't buy software, other than the EULA in the box?

    Ask a Walmart sales associate - they'll tell you the sale is final and no returns are allowed. That doesn't sound like licensing speak. No discussion of the limitations, how it'll be audited, etc, etc... Unfortunately for the corporate lawyers, that Walmart person is the final authority. They're where the majority of the software sells and if it quacks like a sale, it is a sale.

    The problem, like usual, is a judge with stunningly little intellect. Copyright is meant to stop creation of new copies, to stop competition with the creator. Temporary copies in ram are not copyright violations. Software, in normal use, gets loaded into the computer, copyright law itself gives a full exemption from copying restrictions for the purpose of duplicating software in ram, for the purposes of running it.

    While loading a strange portion of the game outside of normal execution order may be strange, it is no more illegal than reading the end of the book first.

  • by davolfman (1245316) on Tuesday July 15, 2008 @12:32PM (#24198179)
    I doubt he cleanroom developed this thing. As such in order to develop the bot it was probably necessary to copy it into ram for a purpose other than playing the game. Several times in fact.

Often statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts -- for support rather than illumination.

Working...