Blizzard has filed a lawsuit against the makers of the "ValiantChaos MapHack" for StarCraft II, saying that it infringes copyrights, breaches contracts and just generally messes with its mojo.
The lawsuit names the defendants as "Does 1 through 10," since the actual names of the people involved are unknown, but the claims are very clear. "The provisions of the ToU and EULA are designed to protect the integrity of the game by, among other things, preventing the very conduct demonstrated by the Defendants - providing certain players an unfair competitive advantage against other players," the lawsuit states. "The ToU and EULA provide commercially reasonable contractual protection of Blizzard's rights in and to StarCraft II."
Blizzard says the defendants are "well aware" that their hack violates its prohibitions but continue to sell it anyway, by offering it to forum users who "donate" $62.50 for a VIP forum membership. The damage caused by the hack is "immediate, massive and irreparable," the suit claims.
"Among other things, Defendants irreparably harm the ability of Blizzard's legitimate customers (ie., those who purchase and use unmodified games) to enjoy and participate in the competitive online experience of StarCraft II," the lawsuit says. "That, in turn, causes users to grow dissatisfied with the game, lose interest in the game, and communicate that dissatisfaction. This results in lost sales of the game and/or 'add-on' packs and expansions thereto, as well as harm to Blizzard's reputation, the value of its game, and other harms to Blizzard."
The suit claims direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement by the hack makers, as well as breach of contract, intentional interference with contractual relations and even trafficking in circumvention devices in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Blizzard is seeking an injunction against further distribution of the hack, access to all infringing and violating materials, a full breakdown of all monies earned from the sale of the hack, and of course various damages and legal fees.
This isn't the first time Blizzard has taken legal action over an in-game cheat - it successfully sued the maker of the World of Warcraft "Glider" bot in 2008 - and lawyer Jas Purewal of Purewall & Partners LLP, a law firm specializing in digital entertainment and technology (and also the man behind the Gamer Law blog) told the BBC that it will likely prevail this time around too, thanks in large part to the advent of the DMCA.
"The law in this area is relatively new as these forms of online games are only a decade old," he said. "Nonetheless, there have been a number of victories in this area and overall the odds are stacked against hackers and against cheaters once a games company is determined to take legal action."