Blizzard Sues StarCraft II Cheat Makers

| 22 May 2014 20:30
Starcraft 2 Social

Blizzard has filed a lawsuit against the makers of the "ValiantChaos MapHack" for StarCraft II, saying that it infringes copyrights, breaches contracts and just generally messes with its mojo.

"ValiantChaos MapHack" is a cheat that grants StarCraft II players who use it various unfair advantages over their competition, including the ability to see the full game map, even areas meant to be obscured, and the opposing player's unit moves. It also violates Blizzard's "technical security measures" and various aspects of its Terms of Use and End-User License Agreement, which has led the studio to file a lawsuit against those responsible for making it.

The lawsuit names the defendants as "Does 1 through 10," since the actual names of the people involved are unknown, but the claims are very clear. "The provisions of the ToU and EULA are designed to protect the integrity of the game by, among other things, preventing the very conduct demonstrated by the Defendants - providing certain players an unfair competitive advantage against other players," the lawsuit states. "The ToU and EULA provide commercially reasonable contractual protection of Blizzard's rights in and to StarCraft II."

Blizzard says the defendants are "well aware" that their hack violates its prohibitions but continue to sell it anyway, by offering it to forum users who "donate" $62.50 for a VIP forum membership. The damage caused by the hack is "immediate, massive and irreparable," the suit claims.

"Among other things, Defendants irreparably harm the ability of Blizzard's legitimate customers (ie., those who purchase and use unmodified games) to enjoy and participate in the competitive online experience of StarCraft II," the lawsuit says. "That, in turn, causes users to grow dissatisfied with the game, lose interest in the game, and communicate that dissatisfaction. This results in lost sales of the game and/or 'add-on' packs and expansions thereto, as well as harm to Blizzard's reputation, the value of its game, and other harms to Blizzard."

The suit claims direct, contributory and vicarious copyright infringement by the hack makers, as well as breach of contract, intentional interference with contractual relations and even trafficking in circumvention devices in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. Blizzard is seeking an injunction against further distribution of the hack, access to all infringing and violating materials, a full breakdown of all monies earned from the sale of the hack, and of course various damages and legal fees.

This isn't the first time Blizzard has taken legal action over an in-game cheat - it successfully sued the maker of the World of Warcraft "Glider" bot in 2008 - and lawyer Jas Purewal of Purewall & Partners LLP, a law firm specializing in digital entertainment and technology (and also the man behind the Gamer Law blog) told the BBC that it will likely prevail this time around too, thanks in large part to the advent of the DMCA.

"The law in this area is relatively new as these forms of online games are only a decade old," he said. "Nonetheless, there have been a number of victories in this area and overall the odds are stacked against hackers and against cheaters once a games company is determined to take legal action."

Source: TorrentFreak

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RicoADF:

Pyrian:
Charging for the cheat-mod means that (A) they have no chance in court and (B) they're in serious risk of being reeled in by the money trail.

Not necessarily, depending on how the cheat runs Blizzard may not have a case. EULA's aren't legally binding (not sure about USA but most countries disregard them). Blizzard are being dicks because their butt hurt over some people having fun with cheats in their game, sure using cheats in MP is being an ass but SP is only the users business.

They're serious in the U.S.

And the hack works online as well. Insane to think these people would risk their account only to use the hack against bots.

Pyrian:
Charging for the cheat-mod means that (A) they have no chance in court and (B) they're in serious risk of being reeled in by the money trail.

Not necessarily, depending on how the cheat runs Blizzard may not have a case. EULA's aren't legally binding (not sure about USA but most countries disregard them). Blizzard are being dicks because their butt hurt over some people having fun with cheats in their game, sure using cheats in MP is being an ass but SP is only the users business.

BigTuk:

Considering that the names of the manufacturers are unknown I fail to see how this does anything to stop them or any of the dozen other enterprising tweakers out there.

Well, I already addressed the whole thing about the Doe listings. This is necessary in order to continue. It doesn't mean they will remain anonymous or be tried in absentia.

Never mind that the hack already exists so it does nothing to stop the distribution in anyway.

And that it needed to be updated to keep up with Blizzard's security.

As I mentioned in the rest of the post... before people had to pay $63 to get it...I can imagine the makers of this thing putting it up for free on the torrent sites just to spite Blizzard.

And the fact that it was made available online several years ago.

It won't stop cheaters... or slow them down.

I've already given reasons why that's not true.

The best they can do is just keep closing the loopholes the cheaters are exploiting in the eternal game of whackamole.

And if they close the loopholes and shut down the devs who are making the updates, rendering it no longer financially viable, that's better. So no, it's not the best they can do. You may not have heard of this, but it was a big, popular program before the suit. And popular enough to be cracked itself. I'm not even playing Starcraft and looking to cheat. This was easy to find, even without already being invested in the game. But again, I'm repeating myself.

Zachary Amaranth:
SNIP

I agree. Sadly though there are people out there who view cheating in Multiplayer and cheating in single player as the same thing. Mainly that is why I felt the need to disassociate myself with them.

Zachary Amaranth:

BigTuk:

Also this has nothing to do with murderers and rapists. Locking one up means at the very least *that* murderer/rapist will not be out and about.

Shutting down the manufacturer of cheats means there's at least one less manufacturer of cheats. And since that is kind of necessary in this equation, then you've accomplished the same goal.

Considering that the names of the manufacturers are unknown I fail to see how this does anything to stop them or any of the dozen other enterprising tweakers out there. Never mind that the hack already exists so it does nothing to stop the distribution in anyway. As I mentioned in the rest of the post... before people had to pay $63 to get it...I can imagine the makers of this thing putting it up for free on the torrent sites just to spite Blizzard.

Never mind that this is practically free advertising for them. I for one would never have known about this were itnot for the article. So in short, Blizzard's attempt to be scary and showy may just have made things harder for them. It won't stop cheaters... or slow them down.

The best they can do is just keep closing the loopholes the cheaters are exploiting in the eternal game of whackamole.

Bat Vader:
It's cheaters like this that make cheaters like me look bad. I only cheat in single player since it doesn't effect anyone else but the idea of cheating in multiplayer just disgusts me.

The two shouldn't even be compared for all intents and purposes. What you do with your own experience is one thing. What you do in an online game, especially one that has competitive MP is another entirely.

BigTuk:

Also this has nothing to do with murderers and rapists. Locking one up means at the very least *that* murderer/rapist will not be out and about.

Shutting down the manufacturer of cheats means there's at least one less manufacturer of cheats. And since that is kind of necessary in this equation, then you've accomplished the same goal.

Heck right now it was costing peoples $63... the makers may out of sheer spite put it up for free on some torrent site out of Tonga or those other 'safe-haven' countries.

Well, no. They've been updating it to keep ahead of Blizzard. Without the developers, you still need someone else to fill their shoes. That could happen, but there's no guarantee that someone else will. Meanwhile, the file's been publicly available for years now. You can't normally use it without paying, still, but a Google search indicates that there are cracked versions. No honour amongst thieves, I guess.

So the worst case scenario is really that someone else takes up the reins and continues to do what's being done. There is no loss here, because all I had to do was hit Google for 30 seconds to find that the doomsday scenario here is already happening.

Alpha Maeko:
I cheat hardcore every time I play Call of Duty...

.. by using whatever n00btube is available :D

Yeah, I've been accused of cheating, hacking, etc. for simply getting more kills than someone else.

If I were gonna cheat, my KDR would probably be a little better than it is, but when has logic ever factored in?

Avaholic03:

If their real names are unknown, how do they expect to enforce any ruling? Do their online personas have assets that can be seized?

You can file a suit or get a warrant against an unnamed person to get the ball rolling and then use the law to identify them. In this case, it may be the only way to get such information (legally).

shirkbot:
Additionally, I'm not sure I like their use of the DMCA/copyright law in the claim. It's one thing to accuse someone of theft or plagiarism, but this is closer to developing a tool specifically designed for a given product.

If done so with Blizzard's code, then there's legal precedent.

milijanko:
I'm actually fine with this right now. But I can already see this as a legal precedent that opened the floodgates for EA to sue every modder out there who tries to "fix" one of many broken EA games and takes away even the smallest cut from their DLC sales by modding the game.

I'm pretty sure the legal precedent is already there, too. I doubt this will be the case that leads to it.

NuclearKangaroo:
sue them to oblivion, nuke those cheaters offices from orbit and salt the earth so that nothing may ever grow in that place ever again... and thats only if they say they are sorry

if they dont, well, first we must find a way to bring Cthulhu to this realm...

Is that not already happening? I've been having weird dreams lately..

Glad they're going after these companies. I'm not super against hackers or the guys that make these programs, in the sense that I don't think they should be demonized or anything super harsh, but I'm really happy to see game companies protect their customers and work to insure people get the gaming experience they paid for.

Pyrian:

Pyrian:
Charging for the cheat-mod means that (A) they have no chance in court and (B) they're in serious risk of being reeled in by the money trail.

They are not chargine for the cheat mod per say.. they are charging for a "premium" forum membership that so happens to contain the ability to download files from their site.

Biiiig difference in legal terms actually.

Zero difference in legal terms actually. "We're not charging you for the product, we're charging you for entering the store, picking the product off the shelf, and walking to the checkout. The product is free!" That will not fly in any courtroom.

I think it would "fly." It's like streaming services being able to say that you're not paying them for the product that you're streaming, you're paying them for the ability to stream the product. Once you are no longer paying for the ability to stream it, you lose access to it. You can't claim "I should still be able to use the product" because legally, you were never paying for the product itself. It makes me think "campaign contributions," which are perfectly legal. Are you "paying for a congressman to vote in your favor?" No, silly. Of course not. THAT would be illegal. Now, if you were to make a sizable donation to his/her campaign, he/she win, and down the road, they were to be a voice in some debate that just happened to be in your favor well, that is COMPLETELY unrelated to any "contributions" that you made

Pyrian:
Charging for the cheat-mod means that (A) they have no chance in court and (B) they're in serious risk of being reeled in by the money trail.

They are not chargine for the cheat mod per say.. they are charging for a "premium" forum membership that so happens to contain the ability to download files from their site.

Biiiig difference in legal terms actually.

Zero difference in legal terms actually. "We're not charging you for the product, we're charging you for entering the store, picking the product off the shelf, and walking to the checkout. The product is free!" That will not fly in any courtroom.

Athinira:
It always a puzzle to me why these people don't operate out of countries where they can't get sued.

If you want to make a living out of this, you should at least protect yourself against lawsuits, especially from Blizzard who has sued cheatmakers before. Take it from the guy who creater the Glider Bot for WoW. He got sued by Blizzard and lost almost everything, as he explains in this very interesting video from DEFCON about cheating (worth watching all 50 minutes).

Very interesting video. Defcon always seems to bring interesting speakers.

Valderis:

Ranorak:

Valderis:
Oh look Blizzard is throwing a hissy fit.

You know this wouldn't be that big of a problem if we could just cheat in the first place.

You do realize there are actually perfectly legit cheats for the single player parts, right?
You can cheat, just not in multiplayer.

If your argument is that cheating in multiplayer games should be allowed, I am afraid that you might have a very egocentric view on the world then.

Of course cheating in multiplayer should be allowed, as long as both parties agree to allow it. It can be a lot of fun.

Then play a custom map, this is about ranked matches.

Valderis:

Ranorak:

Valderis:
Oh look Blizzard is throwing a hissy fit.

You know this wouldn't be that big of a problem if we could just cheat in the first place.

You do realize there are actually perfectly legit cheats for the single player parts, right?
You can cheat, just not in multiplayer.

If your argument is that cheating in multiplayer games should be allowed, I am afraid that you might have a very egocentric view on the world then.

Of course cheating in multiplayer should be allowed, as long as both parties agree to allow it. It can be a lot of fun.

What you're describing is custom games, and they exist already. This isn't talking about "mods", this is talking about taking the competetive experience on the ladder which is extremely rigid in its format, not "for funsies played with a friend" scenario. Blizzard doesn't sue people who just make stuff like in-editor maps (except that one thing that one time because of legit copyright concerns, but whatever).

Ranorak:

Valderis:
Oh look Blizzard is throwing a hissy fit.

You know this wouldn't be that big of a problem if we could just cheat in the first place.

You do realize there are actually perfectly legit cheats for the single player parts, right?
You can cheat, just not in multiplayer.

If your argument is that cheating in multiplayer games should be allowed, I am afraid that you might have a very egocentric view on the world then.

Of course cheating in multiplayer should be allowed, as long as both parties agree to allow it. It can be a lot of fun.

I am completely behind Blizz in this one. Given that I haaaaaate spambots, hackers, cheating in games (minus of course using them in single-player and just messing around not harming anyone else)and just ruining people's days. Oh and gold sellers. God, I hate gold sellers.

captcha: one, two, three *DINGDINGDING*

XenoScifi:
This is a great move to help curb online cheating. I agree with everything this lawsuit is aiming at all the way down to these cheats down right making a game look bad and in turn a potential loss of sales.

I hope this will pick up steam and other publishers start taking action.

Cheaters actually increase sales, they don't decrease it.

Cheaters cheat because they get a kick out of it, and since they run the risk of getting banned, they often purchase multiple accounts (I've heard of cheaters who have upwards 20 paid accounts just for one game), or maybe they just have one account that they just repurchase if they getbanned. So in fact cheaters are actually paying the most to the company on a per-customer basis.
This, btw, is also one of the reasons that companies does 'Ban waves' (banning a lot of cheaters at the same time, rather than banning cheaters the instant they detect them). Instant and frequent bans reduces the chance that cheaters will repurchase accounts, but occasional bans keeps them around. Ban waves are also good for marketing, since the game company can boast that it does something about cheaters, when in reality they are holding back.

The 'lost sales' argument is also a rather weak argument, although I'm sure it's still an easy sell in court. Unless the game is subscription based, like an MMO, people have already purchased the game, and since games sell most of their copies in the initial time of existence, your game will really need to have accrued a very bad reputation as a 'cheaters paradise'. And even then, most people who still buy it will still be unaware of that until they experience it first-hand. There is also little to no evidence that cheaters is a strong reason that people stop playing a certain game.

If this picks up, then cheaters will simply modify their tactics, and start releasing cheats from countries where they can't be prosecuted. You can make a lot of money with cheats (some people have made millions of dollars), so there isn't exactly a lack of motivation for relocating yourself if necessary.

So in short, this solves nothing, neither in the short or the long run, regarding cheaters. It does, however, have the potential to set a scary precedence regarding software modification (including mods that aren't cheating-related). So i sure as hell doesn't hope that this picks up... or at least i don't hope it's gonna have consequences for software modification outside of cheating.

It always a puzzle to me why these people don't operate out of countries where they can't get sued.

If you want to make a living out of this, you should at least protect yourself against lawsuits, especially from Blizzard who has sued cheatmakers before. Take it from the guy who creater the Glider Bot for WoW. He got sued by Blizzard and lost almost everything, as he explains in this very interesting video from DEFCON about cheating (worth watching all 50 minutes).

milijanko:
I'm actually fine with this right now. But I can already see this as a legal precedent that opened the floodgates for EA to sue every modder out there who tries to "fix" one of many broken EA games and takes away even the smallest cut from their DLC sales by modding the game.

That's what I'm worried about as well. I still play mods (for BF2 and Command & Conquer Generals primarily). I'm worried this will make it legal to deem mods "a violation of the EULA because 'it infringes on our intellectual property,' or whatever. For example, there are guys that ran a community for a BF2 mod that would ask for donations to keep their site/severs up and running. I wouldn't be surprised if EA (or someone) says that "these guys are profiting off of our product via their "mod," under the guise of "donations."

On the one hand, it sucks that there are people out there that will use hacks/cheats to ruin the experiences of others. On the other, I do enjoy seeing companies get riled up with other people use language like "donations" as a workaround in the hopes of avoiding litigation. To me, it's like fucking with the big guy. The way politicians accept "donations" and "campaign contributions," because outright saying "yeah, I'll take your money and as a result be more prone to cater to your interests" well, that'd be just "wrong."

Baron_BJ:
This case concerns me. If they win based upon some of the grounds they've stated (violations of the EULA for example) then the precedent that it sets/solidifies (the legal power behind EULA's is something that's still up in the air in a number of countries) is only going to harm consumers in the long run.

However if Blizzard wins purely on the grounds that the cheat is harmful to their business then I'm going to be quite pleased. Multiplayer cheating is scummy bullshit, however I'd rather have the legal wiggle room to laugh off the EULA and deal with some cheaters that will eventually get banned anyway than not and not.

Your words echo my thoughts. I don't want there to be strong legal precedent for enforcing contracts you aren't privy to prior to purchase on products you can't return.

I'm actually fine with this right now. But I can already see this as a legal precedent that opened the floodgates for EA to sue every modder out there who tries to "fix" one of many broken EA games and takes away even the smallest cut from their DLC sales by modding the game.

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