Friday, March 21, 2008

Blizzard vs. MDY (MMO Glider)

I'm afraid this will cause another big debate, but this is actual news: Both Blizzard and MDY Industries, the makers of Glider (previously called WoW Glider) filed motions for summary judgment yesterday, another step in their ongoing legal battle. You can find documents on the MMOGlider website: version 1 and version 2. I'm not legal expert enough to even explain what a "motion for summary judgement" is, I figured it is a request to find for or against before a real trial even starts. But what is interesting is that these documents are relatively readable even for a non-lawyer, and contain a range of interesting facts.

For example there are interesting details on how Blizzard's Warden software and another utility called Scan.dll work. It also contains this interesting tidbit on banning: "Blizzard does not ban, nor has it ever banned the licensee itself. If Blizzard bans a licensee’s account, the licensee may immediately sign up for a new account using the licensee’s name and same credit card number that it previously used for the banned account." People don't get banned, accounts are.

Blizzard is asking for damages because:
a) Because Glider can help advance a character’s level faster, Blizzard loses revenue from a licensee who uses Glider because of a shortened monthly subscription time;
b) Because a portion of Blizzard’s licensee’s oppose the use of botting programs such as Glider, many people quit in frustration thereby causing Blizzard to lose revenue;
c) Because the gaming world perceives people who use Glider as having an unfair advantage, many potential WoW players choose not to play WoW thereby causing Blizzard to lose revenue;
d) Glider users can use the software to “farm gold” in WoW, which damages the WoW game economy thereby causing people to quit the game;
e) Blizzard must pay employees to deal with complaints about bot programs; and
f) Blizzard must pay employees to locate Glider users in the WoW game environment and verify Glider detections from Warden so Blizzard can ban such accounts.
Blizzard's expert witness Dr. Edward Castronova argued that these bases damage Blizzard in the amount of twenty million dollars per year. Obviously MDY's expert witness doesn't agree, pointing out that not only is there no way to quantify these damages, Blizzard themselves recently shortened the time it takes to reach level 70. They also say that Glider is not the only unauthorized third party program, and Blizzard can't just sue one of them for all the cost for employees hunting down all of them.

Even more interesting is MDY's claim that while the use of Glider is cheating and breaks the EULA and TOU, it is not a copyright infringement, because a) WoW can be copied freely anyway, and b) Glider doesn't make unauthorized copies of the game or circumvents any sort of copy protection measures. They say that Glider only does things that somebody playing 24/7 could also do, it's just a "bot", not duping or hacking anything.

The legal outcome of all this, if there will be one, should be interesting to watch.

No comments:

Post a Comment