Blizzard wins anti-bot copyright case

Written by Joe Martin

February 3, 2009 | 10:21

Tags: #bot #warcraft

Companies: #activision-blizzard #blizzard

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.

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