(via B2fxxx and Terra Nova) Back in March we reported on an important suit involving World of Warcraft and software developers MDY (I don’t know why I’m using “we”, it’s only me writing this). The suit involved cheating autopilot exploit which allows a player to gather gold automatically by using intelligent agents and bots to control an avatar. MDY distributes software advertised specifically to serve as an exploit, which represents a serious problem for WoW developers Blizzard Entertainment because it affects legitimate players who put time and effort into levelling and gathering gold.
“You agree that you will not (i) modify or cause to be modified any files that are a part of the Program or the Service; (ii) create or use cheats, bots, “mods”, and/or hacks, or any other third-party software designed to modify the World of Warcraft experience; or (iii) use any third-party software that intercepts, “mines”, or otherwise collects information from or through the Program or the Service. Notwithstanding the foregoing, you may update the Program with authorized patches and updates distributed by Blizzard, and Blizzard may, at its sole and absolute discretion, allow the use of certain third party user interfaces.”
“Blizzard may terminate this Agreement at any time for any reason or no reason. In such event, you must immediately and permanently destroy all copies of the Game in your possession and control and remove the Game Client from your hard drive. Upon termination of this Agreement for any reason, all licenses granted herein shall immediately terminate.”
“Generally, a copyright owner who grants a nonexclusive license to use his copyrighted material waives his right to sue the licensee for copyright infringement and can sue only for breach of contract. If, however, a license is limited in scope and the licensee acts outside the scope, the licensor can bring an action for copyright infringement.”
Similarly, this case is not only about MDY, it is about all MDY users. Blizzard’s argument is that each user who is installing MDY’s cheating software are in breach of their ToU, therefore in breach of the licence, and therefore are infringing copyright. MDY therefore is guilty of contributory and vicarous copyright infringement, akin to Grokster and other P2P providers. The District Court of Arizona therefore ruled in Blizzard’s favour, and therefore MDY will be held liable accordingly.
So, next time I see someone misbehaving in Ironforge’s bridge, I can say in the chat box: “Pardon me chap, but are you aware that your actions may constitute copyright infringement?”