Appeals court denies Blizzard vs Glider copyright claim

Revised bot ruling many mean new legal precedent on EULAs

The US 9th Circuit appeal court has broadly upheld a 2008 ruling that WoW Glider, an auto-play program for World of Warcraft, is illegal.

However, while the court agreed that the Glider violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act due to its side-stepping of Blizzard's 'Warden' anti-bot software, it overturned a judgement of copyright infringement.

Said the court, "Were we to hold otherwise, Blizzard - or any software copyright holder - could designate any disfavored conduct during software use as copyright infringement, by purporting to condition the license on the player's abstention from the disfavored conduct.

"The rationale would be that because the conduct occurs while the player's computer is copying the software code into RAM in order for it to run, the violation is copyright infringement. This would allow software copyright owners far greater rights than Congress has generally conferred on copyright owners."

This may, reasons Gamer/Law's Jas Purewal, limit Blizzard's potential pay-out from Glider-maker MDY Industries.

It could also set precedents for the treatment of EULA statements in similar cases. "Just because Blizzard said that using a bot was illegal and a breach of copyright, didn't actually make it so."

The ruling that Glider constituted DMCA violation may also affect the course of future rulings, as it effectively endorses the right of game-makers to seek legal action against the circumvention of access control measures.

Despite the upheld ruling that Glider is illegal, Blizzard is to pay its own, likely high, costs for a case which has now been running for almost three years.

The case may not yet be over, with the court hinting at a future retrial of Blizzard's tortious interference with contract claim (which sought damages for subscriptions potentially lost as a result of Glider's presence on servers). This could impact the original $6.5m fine ordered against MDY.

In addition, the option for either party to appeal to the Supreme Court remains.

A PDF of the full verdict is available here.

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Latest comments (9)

What have you done to yourself, Blizzard...
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Abel Oroz Concept Artist, LANI Pixels8 years ago
Blizzard can easily afford those expenses, probably Glide creator cannot. I doubt Blizzard tries to make any real profit out of these trials, just to set a line that people making illegal profit out of their games shouldn't cross, and saying "hey, we will take action if we have to".
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Thiago Vignoli Creative Director, Fan Studios8 years ago
3 years and burning your name Blizzard, you don't need act like that.
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Show all comments (9)
Abraham Tatester Producer 8 years ago
Blizzard should just buy Glider and sell it to their own players. Hello, new revenue stream!

It sounds like Glider has a pretty good business model set up—with US$25 for the basic version and $5/month for the "Elite" subscription.

I'm not a big WoW player (but I recognize what a fun, high-quality game it is) so I'm not sure if this would offend the hardcore WoW fans. Would it?
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C. Ottis Williams Games and Tech Editor, Fayetteville Publishing Company8 years ago
YES. Yes it would.
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David Amirian Writer 8 years ago
the only reason blizzard should buy glider is so that they can kill it.
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Victoria Mercer Legal Consultant, Lawyer, IP Specialist 8 years ago
Instead of chipping away at the DMCA, they should just scrap the law.
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Radu Ciu Product Manager, Alliance Computers8 years ago
I think Blizz should do all it can to kill Glider and the like. Please try to understand is that these programs work in an online enviroment and such their use affects other users experience.

As a member of Wow's comunity myself i can testify that extended usage of these "tools" by other comunity members on my server could make me stop playing wow.
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@ Radu Ciu
Exactly my thoughts. It plagues the in-game economy with a raging inflation, normal players *can't* buy anything without insane (unhealthy) game-play time. Also it defeats the concept of a massive online multiplayer game, if I wanted to play with AI alone I wouldn't need to go online would I?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Francisco Moreira on 20th December 2010 9:39pm

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