Blizzard has decided to once again target bot makers with copyright claims, in an attempt to put a stop to cheating in their games. Blizzard has now filed a lawsuit against James Enright and several unnamed defendants who Blizzard claims are the creators of bots that allows users to cheat in World of Warcraft, Diablo and Heroes of Storm, and others games. Blizzard refers to the bots as “malicious software products” in the suit. While bots may ruin the game for many players, and might potentially cause financial harm to Blizzard, a copyright claim is a bit of a stretch in this case.
This is certainly not the first time Blizzard has gone after bot makers with dubious copyright claims. In 2010, Blizzard had gone after the creator of a bot that allows players to play WoW on autopilot. Blizzard tried to argue that any violation of the EULA could be considered copyright infringement. The Ninth Circuit ruled that it was not copyright infringement because no copyrights were being violated. The bot is not a copy or derivative work but a completely original creation. Since the bots violated the EULA, it could be considered breach of contract, but not a copyright violation.
Despite clear precedent that merely violating the EULA is not a copyright violation, Blizzard has decided to continue to going after bot makers with copyright claims. In this case Blizzard is also suing for breach of contract and interference with contractual relations, because the bot makers are encouraging other users to violate the EULA. Blizzard also claims that the bots lead to declining player interest which has caused them to lose millions of dollars in revenue, while the bot makers enrich themselves at Blizzard’s expense. Blizzard is seeking an order from the court to prevent further distribution of the bots, as well as damages up to tens of millions of dollars.
In another twist in the case, TorrentFreak was contacted by Zwetan Letschew, CEO of Bossland GmbH, a German company. He claims his company created and owns the bots in question, and the defendant named in the case by Blizzard is not the creator of the bots, nor even connected to them in any way. “I find it funny,” he stated, “no not even funny, but ridiculous for a company of this size, to go after and mention publicly people, that are at best random freelancers, keeping in mind that they sued the creator of the software in question in Germany.”
However, Blizzard explicitly refers to Enright as being part of an international team. They may simply be targeting him in American courts because he is an American, while going after their Germans in their own country. In any case, Blizzard appears to think he is connected to the bots, despite Letschew’s claims on the matter.
Is Blizzard right to go after bot makers with copyright claims? Leave your comments below.