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Blizzard wins anti-bot copyright case

Blizzard wins anti-bot copyright case

Blizzard has won a court case against developer MDY for creating a farming bot for World of Warcraft.

Blizzard has won a landmark court case against developer MDY over a breach of copyright today. MDY's auto-farming bot, called Glider, has been deemed to violate the copyright on Blizzard's World of Warcraft.

The bot is similar to many of it's type, taking control of certain characters and then using them to farm experience and gold, which can then be sold on to other players later.

According to Ars Technica, Blizzard's case could have wide ramifications for the MMO industry thanks to the argument put forward by Blizzard that all aspects of the user experience and not those just stored on the disc were the intellectual property of Blizzard, through the security software Warden. Blizzard's case therefore gives the company legal ownership of all "non-literal elements of gameplay" - they effectively own your digital life.

The judge awarded the case to Blizzard on the basis that the Glider bot circumvented the Warden protection system, interfering with the game experience of many players and therefore breaking the US Digital Millenium Copyright Act. Specifically, Glider is a software tool "primarily designed or produced for the purpose of circumventing a technological measure that effectively controls access to a work" - something banned under the act.

MDY meanwhile attempted to argue that the game experience of individual players could not be owned by anyone as it has no tangible worth or quantity and was created by both the players and Blizzard, not solely one or the other. These arguments fell on deaf ears however.

As Ars Technica points out though, the case is important because it has effectively allowed Blizzard the copyright on the game and network service, allowing it to completely control any access or information in the service even if no copyright theft is in progress. The precedent is expected to hugely impact the open source community in the future.

Do you play WoW? What do you think of bots? Let us know your thoughts in the forums.

8 Comments

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bahgger 3rd February 2009, 10:59 Quote
What's this Bizzard you speak of...
Jenny_Y8S 3rd February 2009, 12:31 Quote
Although not a WOW player, I don't like the idea of this software bot "cheating".

Take it to another game, how boring would it be if you went for a random L4D game and found yourself playing with 4 computer controlled bots all going for the same achievements and not watching your back.

But....

I'm not sure it really fits a "copyright" judgement.
UrbanMarine 3rd February 2009, 15:02 Quote
And Blizzard has 1000x the funds to win the case as well.

I don't agree with botting but these days 1-60 is boring.
pendragon 3rd February 2009, 18:08 Quote
I'm glad the stupid gold farmers got tossed, however I'm not sure I like the wording of that judgement there :-/ ... a bit of a moot point I suppose, as I no longer play the game.
cyrilthefish 3rd February 2009, 18:14 Quote
bit of a double-edged sword this.

i'm very glad the bot company lost, completely ruins MMO's for legit players.

but using the DCMA to do so? ouch

it's like saving kittens by torturing bunnies or something: good end results but horrible methods
Brett89 4th February 2009, 06:38 Quote
I just reported someone for selling gold. After I told them I'd buy gold and made it seem like I was a prospective customer.So good for Blizz.
naokaji 4th February 2009, 07:13 Quote
So, blizzard had to go the copyright route to get a court to rule in favour of them? does that mean the eula which states "you are not allowed to bot" that 99% of mmorpgs have is not legally enforcable making botting in fact legal (provided you code your bot in a way that it doesn't create a copy of the game?
CardJoe 4th February 2009, 07:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by naokaji
So, blizzard had to go the copyright route to get a court to rule in favour of them? does that mean the eula which states "you are not allowed to bot" that 99% of mmorpgs have is not legally enforcable making botting in fact legal (provided you code your bot in a way that it doesn't create a copy of the game?

Thats not right at all. Bots are illegal on one point for breaking the EULA, as proved in a previous case, but are now also breaking copyright law because they interfere with a players experience of the game - something that Blizzard now owns the copyright to.
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