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Blizzard Seeks to Block User Rights, Privacy 639

An anonymous reader writes "In the overlooked case between Blizzard and MDY Industries, the creator of the WoWGlider bot, Blizzard is arguing that using any programs in conjunction with the World of Warcraft constitutes copyright violation. Apparently accessing the copy of the game client in RAM using another program infringes upon their rights. Under that logic, users do not even have the right to use anti-virus software in the event that the game becomes infected. Furthermore, Blizzard's legal filings downplay the role of their Warden software, which actively scans users' RAM, CPU, and storage devices (and potentially sensitive data) and sends information back to Blizzard to be processed."
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Blizzard Seeks to Block User Rights, Privacy

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  • I have the right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:38AM (#18673681)
    If I want to do something to my copy of the game, I can do so just as I can make any 'mods' I want to a cookbook or one of my C++ library tomes which are also copyrighted. I haven't affected anybody else's copy nor have I affected the master copy so Blizzard needs to quit bitching.
    • by dreamchaser ( 49529 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:55AM (#18673859) Homepage Journal
      And they have the right to ban you for life if and when they catch you. You agree to their terms when you play. Violating those terms should be punishable somehow.

      No, I'm not sure that it's copyright violation and in this case I'm not sure the end justifies the means, but the *end* is a good one. Stopping cheating is a good thing.
      • by s_p_oneil ( 795792 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:13AM (#18674061) Homepage
        If the bot just simulates input devices (i.e. keyboard and mouse actions), then I doubt it infringes on the copyright. If they actually reverse engineered it to the point where they can make calls to functions inside the application itself, then they have broken the law. Remember all the crap the creators of the first x86 clone had to go through to prove that they hadn't reverse engineered it?
        • Elaboration? (Score:4, Insightful)

          by UbuntuDupe ( 970646 ) * on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:45AM (#18674539) Journal
          Remember all the crap the creators of the first x86 clone had to go through to prove that they hadn't reverse engineered it?

          Can someone elaborate for the ignorant: aren't you supposed to prove that you *did* reverse engineer it, not that you didn't? Since the copyright only covers duplication of code, not duplication of functionality?
          • Re:Elaboration? (Score:5, Informative)

            by 2short ( 466733 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:27AM (#18675191)
            You are entirely correct. I'm not sure how to elaborate except by mocking the original poster, but I'll give it a try:

            The creators of the first non-IBM PC BIOS had one team decompiling/inspecting/reverse engineering the code and writing up documents describing how it worked. Then a toatlly seperate team that never saw the original wrote a functional replacement based on those specs. This was carefully documented so they could prove they weren't copying the code, just duplicating the functionality. Similar procedures have been used in other less famous cases.

            Of course, the people Blizard is complaining about certainly aren't copying the code, as they aren't even trying to make a replacement. They are trying to make their code interoperate with Blizzards, which is clearly protected, despite the undesirability of that interoperation to many.

            Blizzard is probably trying to enforce some EULA deal where the right to copy the software (by installing and/or running it) is only granted if you "agree" not to reverse-engineer it. I find that legally dubious, and I'm only guessing that's the deal, because that would bring the story into the ballpark where a really flexible-minded lawyer might advance the theory with a straight face. Claiming copyright violation for looking at RAM and not copying anything is not in that ballpark.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              The creators of the first non-IBM PC BIOS had one team decompiling/inspecting/reverse engineering the code and writing up documents describing how it worked.

              Almost right. Decompiling wasn't necessary as the full x86 assembly source code for the BIOS was listed in the technical reference manual that was available to anyone for quite some time, and the comments were very complete so there wasn't any real work needed to figure out how it worked - it was just a matter of the Phoenix team writing up a funct
      • Re:I have the right (Score:5, Interesting)

        by jank1887 ( 815982 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:17AM (#18674097)
        I would have to argue that it's not a copyright violation. If the rights holder provides a legally produced copy to an individual, and prescribes certain copy allowances to that individual (i.e., installation rights, which involves copying some/all of the copyrighted material, and execution rights, which involves additional copying of some/all of that copyrighted material to RAM, Swapdisk, etc., the details of which may slightly vary from system to system) then I don't see what additional copying happened in this case beyond what was already permitted. READING the data, especially of state objects, rather than the lines of copyrighted code, wouldn't involve copyright. Unless they intend to argue that every state produced in RAM by their copyrighted code is in itself copyrighted material, and copying that data even in part (which would have to be done in a program, at some low level, to work with/on that data) constitutes an unauthorized copy of their copyrighted work. In that case, they'd have to get the judge to agree that an active state of data constitutes a copyrightable piece of media, and that any copying of partial information from that piece of media falls outside of the already implicitly grated rights of copy (i.e., it's more than just 'reading').

        I have a hard time seeing a judge thinking about things this deeply, meaning (a) he'll say, "you're full of crap. no dice.", or (b) he'll say, "wow, you're right. no program may read another program's data, whether on the harddrive, or in memory, because that implicitly involves some level of copying of information, and we must protect copyright."

        Based on past events, I dread the result.

      • Re:I have the right (Score:5, Informative)

        by smallfries ( 601545 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:25AM (#18674209) Homepage
        While this is all true and good they are not banning the defendant. He hasn't violated their terms and conditions as he is not playing the game. They are trying to sue him for copyright infringement because he makes and sells a bot. The pdf is quite interesting (although it uses the worst font I've ever read) and it sounds like he has a very tight case. Mainly because Vivendi are misrepresenting their position - they thought that a threat to file suit would make him fold. Instead it seems like he has explained the details of the case to a lawyer pretty well, and the document that he has filed seems to tear their case apart.

        As far as cheating goes - bots for grinding in MMO games are an interesting case. This isn't an aimbot that helps you beat other players, or improves your abilities. It doesn't hack the client into thinking that you have more gold / resources that you really do. It just takes the tedious repetitive actions in the "game" and plays them through. It's an autopilot. The real question for me: is a game that requires an autopilot actually fun enough to play?

        (I would say no, but given that he's made a profitable business out of it, lots of people must say yes).
        • Re:I have the right (Score:5, Interesting)

          by networkBoy ( 774728 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:32AM (#18674331) Journal
          Actually given the money he's made, I'd say the game is more fun to play with the bot's help.

          Really I think he's in the clear on this but like another poster I dread the case law that may result.
          On a separate note, if I build a programmable keyboard that has the ability to macro complex keystrokes would that be an issue?
          How bout if I could macro the mouse as well?
          What if I also incorporated a capture device and pointed a video camera at the monitor, thus building an artificial player? (no process running on the machine with the game, all external). While this really is only a thought experiment, where is the line drawn?

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Opportunist ( 166417 )
          Using a bot for a game is a bit like buying a second chess computer to play chess against your already existing chess computer. Why bother playing at all if you use a program to play a game?
          • by Alioth ( 221270 ) <no@spam> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:43AM (#18675469) Journal
            Power. It's all about power. It's the same reason why there are so many asshats wanting ops on IRC - they get some kind of self-gratifying power over other users on the channel.

            MMORPG users want to automate it because the automation can probably do it faster and quicker than they can, leaving them with some kind of wizard character they can use to push around other players.
    • by Samari711 ( 521187 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:05AM (#18674857)
      to distribute the derivative work you've just created, which is why Blizzard is suing (among other reasons). The logic Blizzard is using is almost exactly the same logic that the FSF uses in the GPL when it comes to linking. WoWglider is useless without WoW. It has specific knowledge of what WoW.exe looks like in memory and feeds it input based on the state of the game. Anti-Virus software applies the same generic algorithm to wow.exe as it does to firefox.exe.
  • There are many programs that (programatically) do what the glidebot does. Like Spyware protection, antivirus, etc. There are "add-ons" to popular programs that make them more userfriendly by interacting with them.

    I think Blizzard is approaching this case wrong. The bottom line is that they consider people using the glidebot to be cheating the system. Personally, I don't use it mainly for fear of having my account canceled. I'd much rather have something else go thru the grind for me than have me sitting in
    • I'd much rather have something else go thru the grind for me than have me sitting in front of the game for hours on end.

      If you find the game so tedious, why are you playing it ? How about playing something that's actually fun ?

      Then again, WoW is very light on the grinding side (unless you're doing nothing but leveling up one char after the other). At least on the type of grinding that's easily automated. It'll be a while until 25 bots can run a raid instance.

      I quit 2 months ago (not because of the grind,

  • Apparently accessing the copy of the game client in RAM using another program infringes upon their rights. Also known as the Blizzard chilling effect.
  • By that logic, SUN owns every program written in Java. On the other hand, Intel owns every program that uses processor's instructions.

    May be there is some "license" from Intel of SUN involved?

    • by aussersterne ( 212916 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:02AM (#18673927) Homepage
      How long before the individual owns nothing, though everything is owned? How long before it is a legal fact that all "ownership" (even of the very air we breathe) is exercised by corporations rather than individuals or publics?

      The way things are going, we will soon see legal battles between all kinds of financial interests:

      "We own that story, he wrote it using our software."

      "But he was using our hardware."

      "Yes, but he was sitting on our chair."

      "Ah, but he was sitting inside our building."

      "True, but he had eaten our food that morning."

      "Yes, and he was working beneath our light bulb."

      "Ahhhhh, but he was breathing our air..."

      Judge: "Divide the profits from its sale evenly amongst yourselves."

      Writer: "But what about me? I don't even want it sold. I wrote it and I should get to control it..."

      All: "Bwahahaha, you fool! Do you think you would be anything if it weren't for us? Everything you do is the result of what we have given you!"
      • by isaac ( 2852 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:38AM (#18675389)

        How long before the individual owns nothing, though everything is owned? How long before it is a legal fact that all "ownership" (even of the very air we breathe) is exercised by corporations rather than individuals or publics?

        These legal tactics are older than the hills. Books in the USA once had EULAs (until SCOTUS decided Bobbs-Merrill Co. v. Straus establishing the doctrine of first sale). Proponents of so-called unbundled rights have had mixed results in recent years - DMCA passed, UCC Article 2B/UCITA mostly failed.

        Defending common-sensical notions like "putting money down on the counter and walking out with a box constitutes a sale of a product" and "contract terms not visible at time of sale are unenforceable" is bound to be an eternal battle because some businesses will always be lobbying against them in the hopes of making money. There is no endgame where individuals win once and for all, nor where all consumer protections are finally repealed - the pendulum is bound to swing back and forth in response to competing pressures.


      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Hausenwulf ( 956554 )
        It's not a question of ownership at all. You are using a service. If you don't abide by the terms of the service, your service is terminated. That's how things work for the players. For the company making WoWGlider, it's a different story. I think Blizzard is probably using the wrong legal argument to go after the enabling company, but that's how lawsuits work. You shotgun everything you can think of and hope a few pellets hit the target.
  • Misleading. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <Satanicpuppy@NospAm.gmail.com> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:45AM (#18673751) Journal
    As always, they're arguing that using another program or set of programs to circumvent the code that Blizz uses to try and stop people from using bots and other hacks violates the DMCA...And it's hard to see how they're wrong in that. The anti-virus argument is an over broad generalization; I don't know of any case where a virus actually modifies WoW binaries.

    Agree with the DMCA or not, this is a "valid" use of it.
    • Re:Misleading. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:41AM (#18674465) Homepage
      The trouble is, people have been expanding the DMCA to cover things like ink cartridges and garage door openers when it actually is very limited in scope. The DMCA prevents you from making or distributing technological means of circumventing a copyright protection schema. This specifically means that it would cover the case of someone trying to duplicate the client CD's. It does not cover cheating.

      Blizzard / Vivendi is trying to extend the DMCA to mean that any application scripting and macroing is illegal. This means that not only would you be banned for doing something the game developer doesn't like, but that their decrees would have a jail sentence behind it. This seems wrong to me, both morally and legally.

      Now, as a game developer, I think WoW cheaters should be hit hard and fast with the banstick, and think that MMO's should consider gathering together to create clustered bans... I.E. get banned from one MMO, and you're out of most of them. I hate online cheaters with a passion reserved for those who have to deal with them. But I don't think that constitutes legal grounds to send people to jail for the DMCA-specified term of 10 years.

      You have the right to script your computer. And they have the right to never let you play their game again. But they don't have the right to incarcerate you for years for it. So guard your rights, or any time any company asks you not to do something they'll be able to throw you in jail for it.
    • Re:Misleading. (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Relic of the Future ( 118669 ) <dales@digitalfre[ ].org ['aks' in gap]> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:18AM (#18675031)
      Using a bot is NOT a copyright violation (how could it be? The bot is using my copy of the game, and my copy is legitimate); it may be a terms-of-use violation, but that's not the same thing. Blizzard barked up the wrong tree, and their case is just another example of how companies misunderstand and abuse the DMCA to punish just about anything they don't like.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pla ( 258480 )
      And it's hard to see how they're wrong in that

      Simple - The "access" they wish to block, they don't control.

      If they want to test the integrity of their program and its memory, fine. If they want to TOS people for certain behaviors, fine. But they don't own my keyboard, mouse, joystick, or OS. If I want to run a program to stuff my keyboard buffer, Blizzard has NO right to do a goddamned thing about it other than ban my account. They don't have the right to run spyware on my machine, they certainly do
  • Under that logic, users do not even have the right to use anti-virus software in the event that the game becomes infected.

    I think Blizzard would let this particular circumstance slide when determining the requirements for who should be dealt with in their investigations. There's gotta be some gray-area here, assuming Blizzard is a reasonable company.

    Furthermore, Blizzard's legal filings downplay the role of their Warden software, which actively scans users' RAM, CPU, and storage devices (and potentially

    • Honestly, I prefer it; the fewer cheaters, the better the game. The people in this case who are screaming about a "right to privacy" are mainly just people who want to try and hack the system, and I don't have much sympathy.
      • by GFree ( 853379 )
        Agreed; I'm just addressing the issue as an impartial observer. I've never even played WoW (I'M PURE!), but hey, people still have a choice.
  • I read through most of the filing... (What I could understand of it, anyway) I never understood how the Glider program violates anything other than the EULA or TOS. I didn't see anything that would violate copyright...
    I could understand if it used WoW code to do what it does, but I didn't see anything along those lines.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cfulmer ( 3166 )
      The theory is that Blizzard allows the user to load World of Warcraft into his computer only if they follow the EULA, including the part about not using programs like WoWGlider. By using WoWGlider, the user is not following the EULA, so they do not have permission to run WoW. Since running the program makes a copy of it in computer memory and since the user does not have permission to do so, that copy in memory is an infringement.

      In that way, it's just like the GPL: "You do not have to follow this license
      • Re:WTB 1x[Clue] PST (Score:5, Informative)

        by Bogtha ( 906264 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:17AM (#18674099)

        Since running the program makes a copy of it in computer memory and since the user does not have permission to do so, that copy in memory is an infringement.

        At least in the USA, it is not copyright infringement to copy software for the purpose of using it. 117. Limitations on exclusive rights: Computer programs: [copyright.gov]

        (a) Making of Additional Copy or Adaptation by Owner of Copy. -- 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, or...

    • I didn't see anything that would violate copyright...
      The DMCA card has been used under far more controversial events: including preventing competition in toner cartridges and garage door openers http://picker.uchicago.edu/Papers/PickerDMCA.100.p df [uchicago.edu]
  • by Direwolf20 ( 773264 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:50AM (#18673815)
    Everyone complains about Warden, but noone knows really how it works. Heres the basic gist:

    Warden uses something similiar to a HASH function to get information about the processes run on your computer. Warden sends the HASH home. The HASH is compared against a list of known hacking processes, like WoWGlider, and if theres a match, you're being very naughty!

    Is that REALLY the end of the world? NO! Blizzard can NOT discern any information from a HASH.

    Heres an MD5 HASH of a file on my desktop, what is it? Quick, get my personal informationz!

  • If Blizzard wants to claim that reading the memory used by the application is a violation of their copyright, so be it... Then watch the mudslide of people who have written mods and go after Blizzard for their Warden application which, guess what.. reads the memory of other applications and whats more, sends it off to blizzard which is a more direct violation of copyright as they are making a copy rather than just changing some bits in memory.
    • reads the memory of other applications and whats more, sends it off to blizzard

      Not true. This is pure botter FUD.

      Even one of the WOWGlider devs, when they wrote up their analysis of Warden, provided zero evidence that Warden sends back to Blizzard anything more than an indication that "this is the known hash key that Warden matched". All the processing is done on the client machine, and zero copyrightable, private, personally-identifying data is sent back to Blizzard as a result of this processing.
  • I don't play WoW (or any MMORPG for that matter) so maybe I'm out of touch here. Why should it be that Blizzard feels they have the right to sue someone (individual or company) for finding a way to "cheat" at their game? I guess I'm having a hard time reconciling how this is realistically going to affect them. I understand their argument that this could devalue the experience of playing the game and thus create an environment where less people want to play for fear of having to play against bots, but i
  • Regardless.... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Himring ( 646324 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @08:54AM (#18673857) Homepage Journal
    No matter how the suit comes out (and I'm all for sticking to "the man") using a bot in an online game where other people are involved is cheating, and it kills the very nature of what the game should be all about for everyone: fun.

    This is why I will never, ever, play another FPS, online ... that is, a current PC-based FPS. Xbox live? Sure. No cheating there (yet) and that's good.

    I have admined many game servers (q1, q2, cs) and worked hard to stop cheating with all the tools (punk busters, etc.). I even ran an anti-cheating game site years ago (anyone remember slipgate central? no I didn't run that, but one of my little sites was listed).

    I also did an write-up on the zbot in q2. I installed and used it. I pwned players effortlessly. It was disgusting. I ran around gathering health and power-ups and the bot did all the work while the whole server tried to kill me. It was sick fun, but it's lame.

    Showeq was the first big exploit for mmorpgs. It was lame. With it, the punk could get any unique mob in a zone before anyone else. How is that fair? How was it fair for the people without a 2nd computer, or without linux knowledge to set it up?

    This article may be all about the legal ins and outs of who has access to what in ram, but the bottom line is, cheaters blow. If you cheat you blow. You're feeding a primal part of the human psyche at the expense of others and undermining the entire event. When it all crumbles and dies, you are to blame.

    Using a bot to lvl or farm in wow is lame. Don't do it. Let this guy's work die on the vine....

    • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
      You don't understand, cheating can be FUN.

      One time I ran 5 bots on a local private Lineage server. It was very fun to setup them so they would interact with each other. It was kinda like programming.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rogerborg ( 306625 )

      Then you should know that it's utterly futile to ask or expect people not to exploit. The only - the only - solution is to design out the possibility of exploits. Any game that relies on the actioning entity's actions alone to determine an outcome is always exploitable. Always.

      That's not very cheery news, but it's the way that it is, and I do wish everyone involved would skip the hair pulling and wailing and just accept it. You're always going to be playing catchup with the exploiters, and the more su

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Using a bot to lvl or farm in wow is lame. Don't do it. Let this guy's work die on the vine....

      How about: wasting your life on something you've already done once is lame. Don't do it.

      Blizzard just needs to let you create maxed or almost maxed characters if you already have a level 70 instead of forcing you to level through the same material over and over. If you could start a new character at level 50, that would give plenty of room to learn how to play the class. That's all they have to do to reign in the botting. You could make all the money you need from leveling alts to 70 and then doing the que

    • by __aailob1448 ( 541069 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:40AM (#18675417) Journal
      Telling people not to cheat because it's lame is tantamount to telling thieves not to steal because "it's wrong".

      They know it harms other people and they do NOT care. No amount of words is going to change that and there is no point bothering. Cheating is a fundamental part of human nature. Maybe it's a good thing. A small amount of cheaters forces the rest of us to create protections, increase security, be more vigilant and "arm up". It makes us as a society more resilient and better prepared just as germs made us develop an immune system.

      Diversity is vital to the survival of a species as anyone who's taken a biology course knows. Some of that diversity means cheaters, psychopaths, rapists and lawyers. They are a necessary evil and their contributions are vital to the very survival of the human race. They day everybody stops cheating, we should all be scared, very scared.

      In conclusion, we really should be thanking cheaters for their invaluable services.

      And right after we thank them, we should hang them. Afterall, if they got caught, they're weak and deserve to die.
  • This is quite possible the most biased article summary EVAR, unapologetic in its support for activity that is, simply put, cheating. Folks should be reminded of a past case of allegations of wrongdoing against Blizzard, namely the Warden software which is supposed to detect third-party hack programs. The allegations of Warden being spyware were put forth by folks involved with the development of WOWGlider, though the conflict of interest was somewhat concealed behind all the misinformation of what Warden
  • A friend of Mine. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by elzurawka ( 671029 )
    If Blizzard does not want people using bots/mods, then they should put it in the EULA, and if anyone violates that, handle is accordingly. I don't see how this is in any way copyright infringement.

    A good friend of mine is "addicted" to this game. He has been playing for over a year now, and has leveled up 2 characters to level 70. So he wants to make a third character, but he doesn't want to play through all the lower missions. So he uses a bot, to gather some experience. If it wasnt for the bot, he probabl
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
      If Blizzard does not want people using bots/mods, then they should put it in the EULA, and if anyone violates that, handle is accordingly.

      It's already in there, don't worry. Apparently, Blizzard is just looking for a bigger stick to wave at potentian cheaters.

      A good friend of mine is "addicted" to this game. He has been playing for over a year now, and has leveled up 2 characters to level 70.

      Only ?

      So he uses a bot, to gather some experience. If it wasnt for the bot, he probably wouldn't be playi

  • by nightsweat ( 604367 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:08AM (#18673997)
    You don't have to play WoW. Really. You lived without it before and you'll live without it after. Politely tell Blizzard why you are leaving them, and then leave.

    If you're not willing to do that, this obviously isn't THAT important to you.
  • What the warden does, is to scan for a set of signatures. It then sents back whether it found a signature. No data locally found is sent. Especially in the EU this would be criminal anyways and would subject the people responsible to fines and possible prison time. The signature method is pretty reliable and very likely legal, because it can only be used to find whether specific, already known data is present on a system. The EULA also states something to this effect.

    Sometimes singantures can be mis-detecte
  • Take2, anyone? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by ObiWanStevobi ( 1030352 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:28AM (#18674253) Journal

    Well, although it may be your right to manipulate your own RAM however you see fit, don't forget that if you manipulate the game to show a nipple or sexually suggestive positions, it is your parent's/crusader group's right to sue Blizzard for everything they're worth. Faced with the fact that Blizzard will be held liable for everything everyone else does to their game, what choice do they have but to pursue any messed up agressive ways of getting you to stop?

    One can only reasonably assume that using such software would be your right. However, one would also reasonably assume that you are responsible for any modifications you make to game. I'm just saying that legal responsibilities surrounding software and computers are really fucked up. If I was a game manufacturer, I'd be scared to death of modders now that I've found out that the company can be liable for what they do. Thank you lawyers, crusaders, and politicians!

    Also, you can at least say they are taking a pro-active, even if they overstepped here, approach to cheating. Cheaters wreck the game for everyone.

  • by Shoten ( 260439 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:28AM (#18674263)
    (I know, it's a bit long, but give it a try.)

    Okay, so here's how I see it all unfolding. Blizzard comes out with World of Warcraft, which immediately becomes a hugely successful MMORPG. And not only is it hugely successful, it happens to come into being at the same time that the real-world economy starts interfacing directly with the virtual economy of the MMO world. As a result, there are services that offer gold for cash, leveling services, etc...all of which incur unintended (and even destabilizing) economic effects on the virtual world. A rough analogy would be if people could sell their souls for sudden wealth or fame here, in a very literal sense of the world; something not of this world is being traded in return for something of this world, and giving those people a leg up over everyone else.

    So, Blizzard has to figure out how to fix this. Obviously, they've done things to make it harder to goldfarm, in some respects. Fishing, which is an obvious activity that requires little input, is made harder to automate based on the requirement that you click on the fishing lure (which lands in a random location in front of you every time) when and only when it has a fish on it (which happens at a random interval after the time you cast the lure, or not at all). Combat is set so that if you're at a higher level than the thing you're killing, you get less credit for it; if there's such a difference that it's a ridiculously easy kill, you get nothing at all for your trouble.

    But still, there are ways that something watching variables in memory could help a cheater. All you have to do is watch for the change in a variable, or the triggering of a function, when the fishing lure makes that splashy noise, and read (direct from RAM) the coordinates where the lure is, and you can have a piece of software click on it for you. I'm something of a WoW noob, so I'm sure there are other ways as well, including manipulation involving mining, auction house market manipulation, etc. Heck, if you had computers work together in concert, you could have a whole group of low-level characters team up on one larger-level NPC and kill it for a big bounty in both XP (for sale as a leveling service) and silver/gold (for sale as gold). The reason the maximum party size that can do quests/gain XP is 5 is just this, and it's not at all hard to imagine circumventing it by coordinating the systems to work together, where one online character is human-operated and the others just follow him automatically, attacking whatever attacks him.

    So, Blizzard has a problem to fight. Since pretty much all of these techniques require a lot of manpower (which adds significantly to the labor cost of the goldfarming/leveling service and eats the profit) or reading variables from RAM, Blizzard decides to prohibit this tactic. But it's the same old situation in computer security, when it comes to things with tangible economic gain in the real world; the bad guys will evolve at least as fast as the good guys. So there needs to be a way to gather intel, to find out what the latest tricks are which are being used. And so Blizzard has Warden.

    Now, a lot of people get up in arms about private corporations and privacy, and rightly so. There are numerous companies that maintain databases of our information, selling it to whoever wants it. Even worse, the organization that can harm us the most by invading privacy...our government...has been purchasing that information, conveniently skirting around the limits placed on them by law. But Blizzard isn't keeping a database of our personal information. We may happen to be doing online banking while WoW is idling in the background, but they're not culling/recording that information. And unlike the metaphor used in the article on Warden, no human being will ever see it. It's more like the person behind me at the checkout, or the cashier, being able to see my credit card when I take it out of my wallet to swipe it. I don't have a problem with that; I'm one of millions of people who d
  • Summary Incorrect (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fleck_99_99 ( 223900 ) <(moc.rr.eniam) (ta) (aleb)> on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:38AM (#18674419) Homepage
    At risk of being repetitive here, the issue at hand is not that accessing WoW in RAM is a violation of copyright. The argument Blizzard is presenting is that:

    - Loading WoW into RAM is creation of a copy.
    - Your right as a user to create this RAM copy is pursuant to the ToS and EULA.
    - Using cheating software violates the ToS/EULA.
    - Therefore, a user no longer has the right to create the RAM copy of WoW while running WoWGlider.

    Therefore, the DMCA/copyright slant is:
    - WoWGlider is a tool that is defeating The Warden access control scheme with the sole use of creating a copy of WoW that infringes upon Blizzard's copyright.

    This may or may not be a valid claim; the status of RAM copies of software is not entirely settled, but tends towards "it can be an infringing copy."

    All of this would probably not have led to a lawsuit, except for the fact that WoWGlider is sold, for real money. Blizzard is trying to both destroy that particular cheating mechanism, and attach all of the profits made from it -- assuming the behavior is in fact ruled to be infringing.
  • by Gorm the DBA ( 581373 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:55AM (#18674685) Journal
    Vivendi/Blizzard is claiming that the WowGlider program accesses their servers in an unauthorized fashion, and imitates their intellectual property to do so. They aren't claiming the right to tell you what you can and can't run on your PC willy-nilly. They are claiming the right to tell you what software environment they want connecting to their servers. Much like your boss requires you to have or not have certain programs running when you access their VPN (at least mine does, and if your IT department is at all security conscious it does as well)

    WoW allows mods, hell, it encourages them. However, any mod that makes it so you can "play the game" without being at your PC is explicitly forbidden. They've banned users of fishing bots before. You're supposed to be playing the game by sitting at your computer, and actively killing things. Yes, it's a time sink. All recreation is. If you're not having fun with it, go and do something else.

    Glider bots/farmer bots do harm those who aren't using them. They consume server resources, making the game less responsive for everyone. They tag rare mobs, denying that kill and the resulting loot to "honest" players. They mine rare resources, again denying them to "honest" players. And the effects they have on the marketplace are demonstrable. For example, about a year ago, a botter discovered a speed/teleportation hack that made it possible to farm 16-slot bags (the largest bag in the game at the time). Instantly, the auction house price on those dropped from 30-40 gold to 5 gold. And there was no longer any market for any smaller size bag, which made it difficult for aspiring tailors to sell product (their bags). Similar hacks were found for other items.

    Ban em all, find the people running them, and execute kill -9's on them. I don't mean their process, I mean them.

  • Sad (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ildon ( 413912 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @09:58AM (#18674749)
    It's sad that people can't just either play and enjoy the game the way it's intended or simply not play. That they have to cheat, and then when Blizzard tries to protect the integrity of their game, come up with bullshit like this to try and justify their cheating. It's just a game. If you really feel you have to cheat at it, you should simply not play, because it defeats the purpose of the game. You destroy the experience not only for yourself, but you cheapen it for those around you.

    It's one thing to cheat, but then to turn around and try to morally justify it like this, is just pathetic. This has nothing to do with software freedom. Blizzard is simply using the tools before them to try and protect the integrity of their game.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:20AM (#18675073)
    Let's look at it this way: Why are people cheating? Why are they using those programs? Generally, I've run across a lot of cheaters, and there are generally 3 kinds of cheaters.

    First the "I wanna win" cheater. You find that kind usually in shooters, using aimbots, wallhacks and other tools to balance their lack of skill. Now, a cheat like that would be of little use in MMORPGs. Your toon hits or misses based on some mathematical probabilities, not your aim. At best, it could be used as some kind of "radar" to find some mobs faster, which is (unless we're talking PvP here) more something that I'll discuss with the third kind.

    Then there's the item and money grabber. The person using bots to get money or items. Which basically is quite pointless in WoW, because any item you could farm alone is pretty much worthless in the long run. At best, this would be interesting for plat farmers, but not for "normal" players who'd actually like to play the game.

    Which gets us to group 3, which is IMO also the group using glidebot mostly: The "get me outta the grind hell and let me finally play the game" players. And that is not only the player's fault. If a game only offers you interesting and sensible content after 2-3 months of mindless grinding, I wonder if it's worth playing.

    So the suit of Blizzard is understandable: That bot "costs" them 20-30 bucks per toon a player levels, since that much longer they'd play without Blizzard having to offer them any new bones to chew on.
    • by Moraelin ( 679338 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @12:12PM (#18677011) Journal
      Oh please. I've yet to see any level range or class on WoW that _needs_ to grind at any point. (Outside what used to be the level 60 end-game grind. More about that one later.) Invariably there's some "but I really wanna have everything" type that's creating an imaginary grind trap for himself.

      Grind... what? XP? Take it from first hand experience, there are plenty of quests and instances to get you from level 1 to 70. I can't say any of my characters ever had to start mindlessly grinding NPCs for XP.

      The ones who grind there, are simply grinding because of their own "I _must_ get to level 70 _fast_" delusions. A lot of people seem to have this crazy idea that the game starts at level 70 (or previously 60), and that everything before it must be skipped as fast as possible. Guess what? That's wrong. Levels 1 to 69 are the actual game. Level 70 is where the game _ends_. That's it. You finished it. You've seen all the content. Go out, do something else, or start a new char.

      So all these people who try to skip levels 1 to 69 are really skipping the whole goddamn game and content they've bought. Whether by getting power-levelled or by spending hundreds of hours mindlessly slaughtering wolves and boars, that's what it is: skipping the actual story, quests, everything that was the actual game on that DVD.

      That's all that such bots do: allow you to skip the actual game. Congrats. You're now level 70, you skipped the "grind", except there's no more game for you to actually play at that point. That "grind" was the actual game, or rather a piss-poor substitute for it. You just bought a game for your bot to play. I hope you liked that bot a lot, at least, because it had the fun you were supposed to have.

      And blaming it on Blizzard just takes brain-damage to whole new levels. Blizzard sure as heck didn't force them to skip 99% of the content in the game.

      Grinding for money or equipment? Again, sure as heck noone forced them to. It _is_ possible to play the game without buying a new set of blue-quality equipment every 2 levels. Replacing a sword with one that does 1 DPS more won't really make you T3H UB3R-W4RR10R. Replacing a +10 int robe with a +11 int one won't make you the uber-mage.

      Stick with that equipment until the upgrade is really worth the cost. Don't think in terms of "is a +11 int robe worth 10 gold." Think in terms of "do I want to pay 10 gold for a 1 point increase over what I already have?" You'll find your expenses might actually go down a helluva lot.

      In fact, if you really want to, you can get to level 70 without using anything more than drops and quest rewards.

      Again, people just create that illusionary trap in their own mind, and get stuck in it. They end up enacting a bad case of consumerism in an online world. They think there's some _duty_ to keep up with the Joneses, when most of the time noone will give a damn about whether your robe is 1 point weaker than the Joneses' robes. Cue farming for gold, or buying gold, just to blow it at the AH on stuff they don't even really need.

      Again: not because Blizzard somehow forced them to grind, but because of something that exists only in their own head.

      The exception to both, as I was saying, was the crap level 60 endgame grind. Guess what? That was after the game had actually ended. It wasn't the meat of the game, it was one last dry bone for people who didn't know when to quit. The actual game had pretty much ended, the content was over, you had already done the quests and seen the zones. All that remained was doing the same pointless raid again and again, just so you can pay Blizzard for another month.

      Skipping (by grind, PL, or bot) the levels 1 to 59 just to get stuck into the MC grind was one of the most idiotic things one could do. It was akin to having a bot finish Oblivion for you, just so you can view the endgame credits again and again for 6 months straight. That stupid.
  • by GregPK ( 991973 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2007 @10:30AM (#18675231)
    WOW, has literally changed our society. I see so many people addicted to the game and investing hundereds and hundereds of dollars into it. I wouldn't be suprised if it dropped the national IQ by 15 points and medical expenses for people with butt blisters from playing it so much. I think its time for people to realize the extent of what WOW is doing to thier lives. I've seen it breakup relationships and even prevent them from starting. People just don't leave the damn computer. Save the people, End the WOW.

Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter