Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

October 1, 2008 -

The BBC reports that Blizzard has won a $6 million damage award against the creator of a botting program used illegally within World of Warcraft.

Glider, distributed by MDY Industries, infringed upon Blizzard's WoW copyrights, a judge ruled earlier this year. From the BBC:

The Glider software is the creation of MDY founder Michael Donnelly who is thought to have sold more than 100,000 copies of the $25 (£14) program.

 

It proved popular with many WoW players as it helped them automate the many repetitive tasks, such as killing monsters and scavenging loot, required to turn low level characters into more powerful ones...

 

The case is due to go to court again in January 2009 when the remaining issues in the legal conflict look likely to be settled.At issue will be whether MDY broke the US Digital Millennium Copyright Act and whether Mr Donnelly will have to pay the damages from his own pocket.
 


Comments

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

I agree it's a terrible precedent... based on a court that has still to get out of the 19th century.

 

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Urgh.  Look, let's be clear, obtting is stupid and cheating, and breaks the EULA.  But illegal?  NOPE.  Infringing on copyrights?  NOPE.  It reads RAM sectors that store WOW variables and acts on them.  Blizzards launcher does something similar to PREVENT botting.  Dear lord, this is a terrible precedent.  They won money?  I recognize the need to ban people who use it, and ban the guy himself.  Hey it their game and they have rules and the means to enforce them.  But seriously, copyright?  Hell no.

Don't let your hatred of botting (justifiable as it is) blind you to the gross misuse of DMCA and/or copyright here.

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Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

This is one case I hoped Blizzard would win. Bots, cheaters, gold-spammers and the like are detrimental not only to Blizzard's income, but the economies in-game as well.

The guy actively convinced people to violate the EULA, which resulted in ... *blink*

 

Wait.. why is he the one that got bit? He didn't do anything illegal, he just convinced people to break the EULA that they agreed to, which is a contract/agreement between the player and Blizzard. Granted, the circumvention of The Warden is a different matter, but the actual sale is confusing.

 

Guess I haven't made up my mind yet.

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Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Flagrantly inciting illegal activity is illegal.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

I think it's stupid to use a bot in an MMO.  What do you get after endless amounts of grinding?  More endless amounts of grinding, even if you use a bot or not.  It's like a dog that chases his own tail.

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Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Nice job on Blizzard's part, showing those punks who's the boss around here. :D

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

I'm going to have to say kudos to Blizzard for this.  I know there have been many times in which I've played online games and upon seeing someone cheat I simply don't have the will to play the game anymore.  It seriously detracts from the experience to have someone make an auto headshot hack to win in Counter Strike or a bot to farm items for you in World of Warcraft.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

This sets a bad precedent, and this is one "victory" that s going to come back and bite us in the ass,

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

You guys are all kinda missing the point here. The legal case isn't against botting, it's against somebody who wrote the bot. Which makes this whole case extremely retarded. Blizzard is going after him, rather than those actually doing the botting. Sure, they may be banned, and that's where this should have ended. I write all sorts of cheats for online games (mainly free-to-play MMO's, Combat Arms is my favorite target at the moment), and I've even sold a few of them. Is it wrong for somebody who puts in countless hours programming and debugging a target to get a return on their investment? I don't think so. Blizzard is just bullying this guy with their legal muscle. Next they should start sueing the programmers of macro software, since it allows you to do the same thing, just not as advanced.

As for the DRM thing, Glider DOES NOT make a copy of it in RAM. It just reads the memory location of the WoW executable when it loads up. Blizzard is being intentionally vague about this, because they know the court doesn't understand how the Win32 operating system works. At the expense of geeking everybody off of the site, I shall explain. When you run an executable in a Win32 operating system, the first thing that happens is all of the code (the 1's and 0's that make the program a program) gets mapped into it's own virtual memory space (which the OS kernel translates to physical memory addressing under the hood, aka physical RAM) before anything is even ran. Then it reads certain sections of the .exe file's header to load whatever DLL's the program depends on, and for fixing up any relative addresses (this part of the loading process is called relocation fixup), at this point, all of the code for the program is sitting in the virtual memory space for WoW.exe. What Glider does, is read this memory to find your character's location and other assorted information, and then generates keystrokes or mouseclicks to respond to this information according to whatever bot logic the programmer has written. This doesn't violate DRM in any way, since he doesn't even do any code injection (overwriting bits of WoW.exe's code in memory with his own), which MAY constitute violating DRM, but Microsoft does it almost all the time (it's called hotpatching).

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Is it wrong for somebody who puts in countless hours programming and debugging a target to get a return on their investment? I don't think so.

I don't think we've missed the point at all. Just because you put effort into something doesn't make it okay to do. Would it be okay if someone worked really hard to design a bot that does quests for you? How about a bot that runs instances? Some might say that those aren't okay, but they're the same thing as Glider - you're not playing the game anymore - you're just letting a computer play for you and reaping the rewards. At the extreme end, you could come up with a bot that just powerlevels you to 70 and calls your cell phone when your character is ready. Is that okay? I don't think so - no matter how much time someone spend figuring it out. It's cheating, pure and simple.

And, to your other point, it makes more sense to go after the bot designer rather than the bot users. Cut off the supply (the place where people can purchase the program) and then once the inflow of new botters is stemmed somewhat, then go about designing more effective ways of rooting out those who are botting. It isn't an either/or scenario - they're cracking down on this guy first because he's the biggest target, and the one it makes the most sense to address. Then they'll start doing mass bans of bot users (maybe).

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

"But your Honor, I worked real hard making this crystal meth! Why is it illegal for me to go on and sell it?"

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

it is illegal to create crystal meth. it is NOT illegal to write a program.

you're analogy is absurd.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Precisely.

"Is it wrong for somebody who puts in countless hours programming and debugging a target to get a return on their investment? I don't think so."

If you put countless hours programming and debugging a virus meant to steal millions from a bank, does that entitle you to the money your virus steals?

Yeah, I didn't think so either.

The amount of effort you put in has ZERO impact on the legality or morality of your actions.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Exactly.  This guy should get banned from the internet.

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Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Nice analysis, but I'd say, MMOGlider doesn't violate WoW's DRM primarily because WoW doesn't have any.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Using Glider is the equivalent of saying that you like playing basketball, but only when you're shooting and scoring. So, instead of playing the whole game, you create a robot to play in your place whenever you're on defense. Meanwhile, you hang out on the sidelines drinking iced tea until it looks like the ball is coming down the court. Then you step in, take the pass, score a basket, and feel like you accomplished something. Meanwhile, your team members are mad at you because they're working their butts off and you're just kicking back.

Now, it's a completely different issue whether WoW (and other games) have too much grinding; I think they do. I think it would be better if they had some mechanism (as I hear EVE Online does) where your character could be making some kinds of meaningful advances while you're logged off (sorry Blizz - a single bar of 2x experience doesn't count as an incentive). But if you're going to play the game, you should just play the game. And if you don't like it, then stop playing it.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

that's silly.

It's like sueing a Gun manufacturer because someone committed homocide with their gun.

I know , i know.

People do , sue the gun mannufacturer now days but it's still silly.

 

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

It's...not remotely like that.  It's like suing someone for using a scope in a hunting contest where scopes were expressly forbidden.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Except it isnt a rule against it being forbidden to have a scope, it is just an agreed term...

I think they need to have a server dedicaded to people who want to use bots with PvP, one with bots and accept only PvP, one without bots but with PvP, and one without bots and with accepted only PvP, and Blizzard make the bot program for them to use to do the bot stuff.

It is exactly like a game genie, just Blizzard should have created it first, and had a server dedicated for it, and ban it out of the other servers, then I could see their arguement fully.  If everyone is doing it on the server, okay, if someone doesnt want to do it, they have the option, and everyone is happy.

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Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Why should Blizzard have to pay money to support something they don't agree with?

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

If it makes it a better product for more of their customers to enjoy, which evidently enough people rather power level using bots instead of playing normally that it became a problem, then why not get a server set up specifically for those people?  Put in their own little mini program, prolly take a month for a single intern to do, and then same type of bot system.

I dont see where this really cost them money.

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Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

There are a few problems with this idea.

First of all, in the World of Warcraft client a background progam is run that is called "Warden."  It's supposed to detect any programs used that effect World of Warcraft.  In order for this to be feasable, they'd have to make a brand new client for World of Warcraft that doesn't have the Warden running(which may or may not be a hard thing to do, I'm not a programmer) just for these select servers.

Second, servers cost money.  Upkeep, bandwidth, and so forth all cost money.  Not only that, but they'd cost money with a lower return on investment.  Part of MMOs are keeping players playing so they keep paying.  If a person is able to bypass a lot of the content they are, in effect, shooting themselves in the foot by not keeping those players in game.  The lower the amount a person plays, the lower the amount Blizzard is payed.

Third, perhaps Blizzard feels that using cheats and hacks are immoral or unjustifyable.  Perhaps they actually want the game played the way they made it to be played.  If this is the case(and it seems to be, considering the large number of accounts banned from all of Blizzards different games) then why would they want to make an area for the people they don't like to play?

Ultimately, I doubt the cost/benefit analysis would come up with a gain for Blizzard.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

No, it's like suing the scope manufacturer.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

It is like none of those things.  As far as the courts are concerned, Glider is designed to do one thing, which (according to their prior ruling) infringes on Blizzard's copyright.  If you make and market something specifically designed to do something illegal (regardless of your opinion on the matter, that is how the court ruled), you are probably going to be held liable for its use.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Too little too late if you ask me.  Botting is completely out of control and it seems like hardly any game company gives a flying f*** about it.  I gave up all my MMOs at least in part because of botting.  I'm not going back until the problem is taken seriously by most game companies.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Well there is Runescape which has gone through great lengths to decrease the number of bots and people who sell virtual gold for real money.

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Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Well, I've never played WoW, but I've played other MMORPGS. And, I hate bots. Yes, I know it's time-consuming, and yes, I know there is the grind, but still. I see it as cheating, in the end. I can understand the reasons why people would use bots, but still.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

I often wonder what it would be like if a game as popular as WoW had been developed by something like a Chinese company. It would probably be terrifying.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

I'm of mixed feelings on this one. To me its a lot like using a Game Genie.

But I can also see why Blizzard is upset.

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Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

I don't like it. I really don't like that Blizzard won based on copyright infringement. There's no way that a sale was displaced by Glider. The damages aren't based on the harm done by the copyright violation but by breaking a contractual agreement. I'm a little suspicious of the court's real motives here. I think Blizzard managed to convince the court that Glider was actually ruining the fun of a lot of people, and that meant the judge was inclined to put more weight to Blizzard's arguments.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Except a GG is not against the EULA.  I agree with a no-botting policy, personally.

This is not the grey area that some other VG issues are (coughdrmcough).  This is very much a clear-cut policy of "you make not like it, but them's the rules".

But I'm curious where the $6m number came from, as 100k copies at $25 is only $2.5m.  Also curious how this violates the DMCA.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Also curious how this violates the DMCA.

Unauthorized reverse engineering of the game, which is a distinct violation of the DMCA. (no, I can't belive I typed that with a straight face myself)

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

For the record, according to Gamespot, "Still outstanding in the case are issues related to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and whether the company's founder, Michael Donnelly, will be forced to pay the damages out of pocket. The court expects to hear arguments over these issues beginning January 2009."
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I'm not under the affluence of incohol as some thinkle peep I am. I'm not half as thunk as you might drink. I fool so feelish I don't know who is me, and the drunker I stand here, the longer I get.

Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

They probably get the $6 mil from including lost revenue as those 100k people weren't on the game as long so they didn't pay as many monthly payments as people who didn't use the bot.

As for the DMCA, I read on some Arstechina coverage previously that Blizzard is making the claim that since this bot made a RAM copy of the game in order to function, he was making illegal copies.

As for the EULA thing, is it also against the EULA to have my little brother play my account for me while I was at work so that he could level up for me since I don't have the time to focus on such grinding after work?

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Re: Blizzard Beats Bots in Court

Yup.  It's against the EULA to share an account for any reason with an exception for a parent/child.  Accounts are frequently terminated because of this.

 

 
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