Friday, June 20, 2008

Blizzard ordered to respond to brief submitted by an advocacy group in MDY case

Public Knowledge, a digital rights advocacy group, filed a motion as a "friend of the court" in the MDY v. Blizzard case that has provoked the judge in the case to issue an order requiring Blizzard to respond. (source: Virtually Blind)

One of the most important parts of Blizzard's argument is that Glider violates copyright law under the DMCA when it circumvents Warden. The argument they make is that Glider users violated copyright when they circumvent Warden in the game copy loaded into RAM memory.

Public Knowledge argued that it's implied that the users are allowed to have a copy loaded into memory when they purchase the game under existing law. Circumventing a technical measure to use a copy they already licensed is not a violation of any copyright law.

To quote the PK brief: “Blizzard cannot claim any infringement of its copyrights based upon the creation of RAM copies because the right to make those copies was never Blizzard’s to license in the first place.”

If the judge sides with MDY and Public Knowledge on the issue (as the order seems to indicate), then this would be a terribly fatal blow to Blizzard's case. As a third party, MDY is not subject to the terms of the license between Blizzard and their subscribers. Without the copyright infringement, the burden is on Blizzard to prove malicious intent to interfere with the contract. Making a piece of software for profit that might harm someone else indirectly is not malicious.

On the other hand, if the judge sides with Blizzard, it's bad precedent for how the DMCA can be applied against third party integrators. While none of us wants bots, limits on third party integration is simply bad news for innovation and a gross abuse of copyright law. Ars Technica points out that "Blizzard is trying to stop a company from profiting from cheaters, but in doing so it may alter EULAs and TOS agreements, to the detriment of users."

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