Friday, January 30, 2009

MDY v Blizzard trial results

Very interesting stuff. Today I will be writing about the court order dated January 28, 2009, found here in PDF form: http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/arizona/azdce/2:2006cv02555/322017/108/0.pdf

The most important point, as I see it (well, it's probably plain to see), is that the court ruled that Warden is protected by the DMCA insofar as that it protects the non-literal elements of the game. That is to say that the game elements generated by the server and sent to your client, which make use of the literal data -- say, a monster here, a building there, etc -- are copyrighted and Warden prevents accessing them if you are shown to be violating the Terms of Service. I would still argue that simply adding terms to the Terms of Service probably shouldn't be applied as far as the DMCA. I don't think it would fly for the RIAA, so why should it fly here?

This will also have implications for other games, and with companies that are far less trustworthy than Blizzard. For example: New game comes out, has DRM that is wider reaching than Warden and includes features that happen to send private data back to the server, and it's protected by the DMCA simply by tying random terms into the Terms of Service. Company doesn't mention it, much like Blizzard didn't come out and say exactly what Warden does (resulting in the Hoglund debacle and other false claims), and until someone reverse engineers it and determines what it is doing, nobody would be the wiser. Cue the ignorant responses: "They have your credit card information from subscribing, what else would they possibly want?" and "Well don't play the game then". It should be noted that until the problem is exposed, nobody would know not to play the game, and something could affect a large number of customers. And of course, providing software that protects your private data from being exposed would be a violation of the DMCA. How do you like them apples?

It doesn't even stop at games. That's just the most obvious. This could harm a lot of modding, of anything at all. A car manufacturer can put such controls on its in-car display system to prevent you from making changes to it by making it a copyright violation to do so. What sense does that make? For further reading on this point, an article at Ars Technica: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2009/01/judges-ruling-that-wow-bot-violates-dmca-is-troubling.ars

Blizzard also won on tortious interference with contract, which they were pretty confident about from the beginning. This is basically that MDY was apparently inducing WoW players to violate the terms of their contract (EULA, Terms of Service) with Blizzard by suggesting they use a bot.

And more importantly at least as far as MDY is concerned, Blizzard is entitled to a permanent injunction against Glider, preventing MDY from making another penny on it, not to mention the $6 million stipulated damages this means MDY owes Blizzard. Or rather, that Donnelly himself apparently owes Blizzard, since the court deemed him personally liable. Ouch.

The two sides have until Friday the 13th of February 2009 to make their cases as to why or why not the injunction should be stayed pending appeal (meaning that MDY of course has no choice but to appeal, and the argument is whether Glider sales should be allowed until the appeal process runs its course) and other minor details regarding the injunction.

So that's it for now.

1 comment:

Andrew said...

There injunctions have been posted
MDY
http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/arizona/azdce/2:2006cv02555/322017/111/0.pdf

Blizzard
http://docs.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/arizona/azdce/2:2006cv02555/322017/109/0.pdf

Both sides are pretty well written but I dont see the judge granting a stay for MDY. Hopefully things will look better in the appeals for MDY, that is if they can afford to appeal.

I Really wish you would update your blog more.You have such well written, well thought out posts.