A judge has ruled in favour of World of Warcraft developer, Blizzard, which is currently engaged in a legal battle against the creator of a WoW bot program called MMO Glider. The Arizona district court ruling on the case has supported Blizzard’s claim that the program infringes on its copyright, giving a first stage victory to the MMO maker.
But, there’s a twist. The court does not agree with Blizzard entirely. U.S. District Judge David Campbell ruled that despite MMO Glider breaking Blizzard’s World of Warcraft license, it did NOT break the terms the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.
This is a seemingly small but very important technical distinction that has ramifications for many future and current MMOs. MMO Glider, like other bot programs, lets players avoid the grind of early levels in order to boost their character automatically. The difference is that it avoids detection by anti-cheat software by loading the entire game into RAM, which Blizzard says breaches the DMCA.
It is believed that more than 100,000 copies of MMO Glider have been sold, at $25 a pop. Blizzard believes the money belongs to it by right and thus its representatives decided to send a legal goon squad over to the house of creator Michael Donnelly, to attempt to force him to stop selling and hand over the profits.
There’s nothing like a big faceless corporation armed with a private dick to get someone’s back up, and that’s certainly true of Mr Donnelly who, “offended” by the strong arm tactics, applied shortly after his little visit with a lawsuit asking the judge to rule that MMO Glider was perfectly legal. Blizzard’s action is the counter-suit to that.
Blizzard appears to just have the edge after this round, but the case is far from over, and unless it is suddenly settled out of court, it will go before a jury in September. WoW might be the all-encompassing MMO giant right now, but it’s not going to be that way forever, so the outcome of this case will have wider connotations for the future of the MMO industry.