Blizzard won the case, but the decision has far-reaching effects on the videogame industry’s dependence on EULAs.
Glider is a program which allows you to program a bot to basically play World of Warcraft for you to level up your character while you are away. First released in 2005, the bot has earned over $3.5 million selling for $25 a pop. Back in 2006, Blizzard sued MDY Industries and Glider author Michael Donnelly for infringing on its copyrights and breaching the contract of the End User License Agreement (EULA) you sign every time you patch WoW. In July 2008, a local court awarded Blizzard $6.5 million but the case was appealed to the 9th Circuit and that court’s decision today again found that Glider was illegal, but, as we reported earlier, not for copyright infringement as Blizzard had argued. Instead, the court found that Glider was made to specifically circumvent the Warden protection program put in place to detect such activity, and that this violated the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. But because of a call for a retrial on a point about damages and all that is at stake for both parties, we will likely see this saga continue.
Earlier court precedent has upheld the fact that consumers don’t legally own a copy of games or other software but only own a license to operate it on their machines. The important thing here is that Blizzard was arguing that because the EULA states that cheating or bot programs of any type infringe on its copyrights. The decision said that just because Blizzard says it, doesn’t necessarily make it so, weakening the power that software-makers wield in enforcing EULAs.
Blizzard is also claiming that Glider resulted in lost revenue from subscriptions and is asking for MDY Industries to pay those damages. The amount that Blizzard is asking for is not known, but it was stated that the company pays $940,000 a year in dealing with customer complaints about bots. The 9th Circuit Court did not make a decision on this point, and asked for a retrial.
So it’s likely that we will see the three-year drama of Blizzard vs. Glider continue, at the very least to figure out whether MDY will pay damages. It’s also possible that either side will apply for the case to be heard before the Supreme Court of the United States.
Given that Chief Justice Roberts is trying to make his tenure leading that august body about copyrights and First Amendment issues and that he has taken on cases regarding videogames before, arguments whether it’s illegal or not to use a third party program to not play World of Warcraft may be heard in the highest court of the land.
What a world.
Source: Gamer Law