MarkeeDragon, an online gold reseller site, reported today that an associate of theirs, Michael Donnelly, creator ofWoW Glider, is being sued by Blizzard for copyright infringement, violating the DMCA, encouraging players to violate World of Warcraft‘s EULA, trademark infringement, unfair competition and unjust enrichment. (Click here for a .PDF of their complaint.)
Wow Glider is a program that automatically controls players’ avatars, letting players leave their computers while the program adventures for them. Players can level their characters or amass huge stores of gold and items without even sitting at the screen. Often called “unattended macroing,” this type of behavior is against frowned upon by most game developers and is in violation of WoW‘s terms of service agreement. The enforcement of EULAs and TOSes as contracts is a murky legal subject, as two court decisions contradicted each other on whether or not a user can be bound to something he may not have explicitly read. The outcome of this case may dictate the future of these so-called “shrink wrap contracts,” which could alter the way people play games forever.
Blizzard is contending Donnelly, by selling the program, is encouraging users to willfully violate these theoretical contracts with the company, and is seeking unspecified damages, court fees and an injunction against further sales of WoW Glider.
Blizzard’s filing is actually in countersuit to MDY’s, the company Donnelly owns. In his suit, Donnelly says three men, one of which was a high-ranking officer at Vivendi and one who was a lawyer for Vivendi and Blizzard, arrived at his house and threatened him with a lawsuit if he didn’t stop selling Glider. (Blizzard only admitted to part of this.) He filed a suit asking for damages and for a court order to stop Blizzard from interfering with his business. (Click here for a .PDF of the complaint.)
Donnelly has declined comment on the case, but he did create a special forum on his site for users to discuss the case.
We currently have questions out to Blizzard and Donnelly’s associates; we’ll update as they come in.
Shannon Drake contributed reporting.