Blizzard Asks Judge to Forbid Open Source

by Mike Gunderloy - Jul. 30, 2008Comments (19)

Now that I've got your attention, don't worry too much: Blizzard Entertainment, the company behind the popular World of Warcraft online game, isn't trying to shut down open source software entirely. But in a recent legal filing (reported by the Virtually Blind weblog), they are asking a judge to take an unusual move: prohibiting a developer from releasing a particular bit of code as open source. Read on for the details.

Here's the backstory: last year a company named MDY Industries filed a suit against Blizzard seeking to have MDY's product Glider declared legal. Glider is a World of Warcraft bot - that is, a program that will automatically play the game for you. Blizzard doesn't like bots, bans them, and wants them out of the game.

Unfortunately, this strategy backfired for MDY: the US District Court ruled in favor of a summary judgment motion on Blizzard's part, and found that MDYwas guilty of copyright violation and tortious interference with Blizzard's business. The case is still in litigation, but the main question now is the size of the damages (or whether MDY can win on appeal, of course).

Blizzard has followed up to their summary judgment with another filing asking for some permanent injunctions, and this is where open source comes in. Along with asking the judge to shut down MDY's servers, forbid further development of the application, and forbid them from helping other bot developers, Blizzard is asking for one more thing:

the injunction should preclude MDY from releasing the Glider source code to third parties, especially those located abroad and over whom it may be difficult or impossible to gain jurisdiction in the United States.... Some Glider users have suggested on internet forums that MDY provide the Glider source code as "open source" software - free for use.

Putting aside the confusion between "free" and "open source," this would at the very least be an unusual remedy. It also shows that there are still edge cases where the ideals of the free software movement (which is certainly a part of the open source movement) bumps up against the legal system. On the one hand, the very existence of licenses like the GPL depends on copyright law. On the other, forbidding the release of code as being too dangerous to a copyright seems like an overstepping bit of prior restraint. However the court rules, though, there's likely to be some precedent here that open source advocates will need to be aware of.



Harrie Baken uses OStatic to support Open Source, ask and answer questions and stay informed. What about you?



19 Comments
 

Can they do that? Did Glider actually get the source from them? What's the background here?

0 Votes

I don't think this is such a weird demand. Given the fact that a judge has already ruled the software to be illegal, giving up the source code and explicitly asking the judge to forbid it's distribution, be it as open source or otherwise, is not a weird move.

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put the code out there anyway.......screw Blizzard....

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Its blizzard's responsibility to figure out a way to circumvent this problem...if MDY doesn't put it out some other hacker will. You can't police this sort of situation...

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Yeah. screw blizzard. They should make no more games. cantormat, wtf did blizzard do to you? still your beloved with it's games?

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I agree - screw blizzard!! Build better 'bot-proof' games or suffer the consequences!!!

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seems to me if MDS releases the code then Blizzard could engineer a way to prevent it and not have to be such whinny bitches. I'm now WoW fan, but I do like Diablo. Now I'm beginning to think I will be skipping the Diablo all together.

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How can it be illegal to publish the source code? They could print a book with the code etc and claim it's a book of poems entitled "int run_bot(...)" ?

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Blizzard is evil.

You pay $40 for the software and then you pay a monthly charge. They say you don't own any of it - not even your own personal files. Their installation program installs a rootkit on your PC so they can scan you system, memory, and files. That's an invasion of privacy.

And anyone that uses any 3rd party tool with the game, they want to sue their customers for hundreds of dollars for "each time the software is loaded into the CPU".

I gave up WoW. I refuse to support Blizzard in any way. Their opinions are very similar to SCO and they are pushing for more "intellectual property rights" so they can own what you pay for and then tell you exactly how you can and can't use your computer.

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@Jeff

Blizzard doesn't install a rootkit with WoW. They don't claim you don't own the media, they can't claim that, they state they have a copyright claim to the code being loaded into RAM by Glider. You don't even have your facts straight. A scanner that looks for third party software != rootkit. PunkBuster is a requirement for many games. If Blizzard is looking for third party software that affects their code then more power to them as it improves the experience for honest users.

They aren't suing their customers. They didn't bring this suit. MDY pulled out the lawsuit gun, in an obvious defensive move, and shot themselves square in the foot.

They do own copyright on the data that is used to play the game. They can control how you access the data from a legal standpoint. They have not pushed, in this case, for any further expansion of IP. They made a legal argument, the judge bought it, the cheaters got hosed.

The least you could do is get your facts straight before you go off. If you look at any copyright case you will see opinions similar to SCO, which is a bad analogy to begin with, even the recent suits filed by the EFF on behalf of BusyBox. It is the nature of copyright, which OSS relies on, to have that sort of language. Ignorant comments don't help the cause at all in fact they simply show that a portion of the community is as bad as a portion of the people who bully others with copyrights.

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What's cheating about coding a bot to do all of your grinding in a poorly executed game that shouldn't be classified as an RPG? When blizzard stops dumbing down the RPG and RTS genre maybe I'd agree that they have a right to forbid someone the right to release their code under any license they so choose.

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What's cheating about coding a bot to do all of your grinding in a poorly executed game that shouldn't be classified as an RPG? When blizzard stops dumbing down the RPG and RTS genre maybe I'd agree that they have a right to forbid someone the right to release their code under any license they so choose.

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If it was a single player game I'd say "screw Blizzard" but since using bots ruins the economy for people not using bots and is expressly against the EULA and effects other people who have paid for the game I'd have to say Blizzard is in the right here, legally and morally. What I'd like to see is for them to set up some kind of 'unlimited' server, where you can do [almost] anything you want (use bots, etc as long as you don't crash the server or another player's system). They [Blizzard] could learn valuable things from this, and as long as all the other players agree that things like this are okay (and are most likely using them also) by logging into to this special server, then I don't see a problem.

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As open source software it would be stupid to try and stop it. .. Saying that, USING the software against WoW servers would be violating a previous agreement with them, meaning they could kick you to the curb if they so wished.

So asking for injunctions is stupid. Kicking out users (not banning) for using the software is much more practical AND effective.

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hi all, what's the difference between this case and the css «dvd»software case?

i mean, i don't see many if any, differences between this two.

css -content scrambling system

thanks

rjnunes

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Jeff wrote:

"They do own copyright on the data that is used to play the game. They can control how you access the data from a legal standpoint."

Controlling access is not a prerogative granted to copyright holders under copyright law.

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Yes that is a nice idea but have you ever thought of going up to the biggest guy on the subway and telling him your thoughts on this. I wonder what he might do, or would you even do it.


harie


wow gold


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first off, id just like to say, im a big fan of glider. true, bots have been abused and i thing blizzard has every right to be upset by the use of them. i think its a smart move by blizzard to try and keep it from being distributed. but casual gliding helps people like me who don't have a lot of time for games. i used it to help me keep up with my friends and brother who played legit. so id LOVE to get my hands on the code, but i think the fact is this. when you load the game on your computer and every time you update, you promise not to mess with there program. be it hacking modding botting or even playing on private servers. its in the user agreement. without the game the code really isn't that helpful, so the only reason you would want it is to break the law. all the code does is break the user agreement and infringe on what the judge has already decreed there copyright property. it makes sense to me that blizzard could win a case like that.

i just think its sad that blizzard had such a good game and they have managed to corrupt it so much. kinda wish they would spend less time and money policing this game and put a bit of it into developing something new and exiting for us to play. i think we could have had the new diablo game years ago if they weren't so worried about loosing billions of dollars in subscription money when people decided to play it instead. how many years have they been riding the wake of this game? shouldn't we have a world of warcraft 2 by now? the patches and expansions really haven't been impressive enough to keep my attention for 5 years... im sure id start playing and paying again if they gave a little more attention to new projects and not how to maximize there prophets and make there game less cheatable. there will always be someone to hack there game and if they do stop the code from getting out, someone else will just come up with there own. im not telling them to give up, im just saying they should look in to there priorities.


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first off, id just like to say, im a big fan of glider. true, bots have been abused and i thing blizzard has every right to be upset by the use of them. i think its a smart move by blizzard to try and keep it from being distributed. but casual gliding helps people like me who don't have a lot of time for games. i used it to help me keep up with my friends and brother who played legit. so id LOVE to get my hands on the code, but i think the fact is this. when you load the game on your computer and every time you update, you promise not to mess with there program. be it hacking modding botting or even playing on private servers. its in the user agreement. without the game the code really isn't that helpful, so the only reason you would want it is to break the law. all the code does is break the user agreement and infringe on what the judge has already decreed there copyright property. it makes sense to me that blizzard could win a case like that.

i just think its sad that blizzard had such a good game and they have managed to corrupt it so much. kinda wish they would spend less time and money policing this game and put a bit of it into developing something new and exiting for us to play. i think we could have had the new diablo game years ago if they weren't so worried about loosing billions of dollars in subscription money when people decided to play it instead. how many years have they been riding the wake of this game? shouldn't we have a world of warcraft 2 by now? the patches and expansions really haven't been impressive enough to keep my attention for 5 years... im sure id start playing and paying again if they gave a little more attention to new projects and not how to maximize there prophets and make there game less cheatable. there will always be someone to hack there game and if they do stop the code from getting out, someone else will just come up with there own. im not telling them to give up, im just saying they should look in to there priorities.


0 Votes
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