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Judge Grudgingly Awards $3.6 Million In DRM Circumvention Case

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the I-hate-to-do-this dept.

DRM 227

Fluffeh writes "The case involves an online game, MapleStory, and some people who set up an alternate server, UMaple, allowing users to play the game with the official game client, but without logging into the official MapleStory servers. In this case, the people behind UMaple apparently ignored the lawsuit, leading to a default judgment. Although annoyed with MapleStory (The Judge knocked down a request for $68,764.23 — in profits made by UMaple — down to just $398.98), the law states a minimum of $200 per infringement. Multiply that by 17,938 users of UMaple... and you get $3.6 million. In fact, it sounds like the court would very much like to decrease the amount, but notes that 'nevertheless, the court is powerless to deviate from the DMCA's statutory minimum.' Eric Goldman also has some further op-ed and information regarding the case and judgement."

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227 comments

Enormous cocks and dicks!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732663)

I 3 DRM!

A Good Thing (-1, Offtopic)

assertation (1255714) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732665)

This is a good development. If more people found out how medical students disrespect cadavers the population would donate their bodies to science even less.

Re:A Good Thing (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732681)

Also, my mom's cock and balls are bigger than most

Seems partly justified (5, Insightful)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732677)

UMaple users can play MapleStory (using the MapleStory client software) without ever touching MapleStory's servers. UMaple then solicits "donations" that lead to enhanced privileges in the UMaple environment.

In this case some penalty does seem justified
UMaple was after all making money from software written by MapleStory, without their permission

Re:Seems partly justified (2)

JoeMerchant (803320) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732725)

I want to hear the followup: is any portion of the default judgement ever collected, or does the judgement just amount to a Cease and Desist?

Re:Seems partly justified (2)

L4t3r4lu5 (1216702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732831)

If it were collectible, it would be quite noteworthy as one of the biggest anti-circumvention awards of all time. But, it's not collectible.

The linked op-ed doesn't say why.

Re:Seems partly justified (4, Insightful)

TheCRAIGGERS (909877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732907)

If it were collectible, it would be quite noteworthy as one of the biggest anti-circumvention awards of all time. But, it's not collectible.

The linked op-ed doesn't say why.

This is pure conjecture on my part, but my assumption is that the creators and the servers it runs on live outside the US, which is also the reason they ignored the lawsuit. Just like TPB happily ignoring (and proudly displaying) all the various nastygrams sent from US lawyers over the years.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733601)

Plaintiff is registered in Delaware, judgement is in California - it's a fair bet the defendants live there.

Of course, getting a judgement and collecting on it aren't the same thing.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732727)

I agree, but not to the tune of 3.6 million dollars either, and I think the Judge understands that.

I hope UMaple appeals the ruling to try to reduce costs down.

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732741)

That's just it...

In fact, it sounds like the court would very much like to decrease the amount, but notes that 'nevertheless, the court is powerless to deviate from the DMCA's statutory minimum.'

The judge's hands are tied here by the law.

Re:Seems partly justified (4, Insightful)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732815)

Just another example of why mandatory minimum sentences make absolutely zero sense in any way, whether financial or in the way of jail time.

Re:Seems partly justified (4, Interesting)

leonardluen (211265) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732887)

of course i am not a lawyer...but i think a good lawyer could get the amount reduced. They would argue that there was only 1 infringement, not 17k. they only made 1 copy on their server and so should only owe $200, they did not make a copy for each user that connected, which the fine amounts to.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

Motard (1553251) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733359)

Or, pehaps, *any* lawyer. But there was no defense *at all*.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733835)

Because it wasn't just a server. They had to run an app on every client as well:

UMaples' client, the "UMaple Launcher," allegedly bypassed the access controls in MapleStory's client software

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

JackieBrown (987087) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733019)

That's just it...

In fact, it sounds like the court would very much like to decrease the amount, but notes that 'nevertheless, the court is powerless to deviate from the DMCA's statutory minimum.'

The judge's hands are tied here by the law.

But the minimum is 200 not 398.98 so the judge could have decreased it again by almost half. As it is, it just seems like the political cop out "I don't like this bill that I am signing and supporting..."

Re:Seems partly justified (3, Interesting)

hairyfeet (841228) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733215)

Yeah but since they aren't in the USA (and most likely in some place that don't give a shit about the USA, like Russia or some parts of Asia) then it doesn't matter if he makes it $50 or a bazillion as nothing is gonna happen.

Of course this is why the entire copyright idea doesn't really work because thanks to the internet being global all one has to do is set up in a country with laws favorable to doing whatever you want (or with officials easily bribed) and then all that draconian copyright laws are worth exactly jack and squat. Not saying they should have the right to snatch anybody else's code, but the only way you can treat something that can be copied instantly and at no cost as a scarce resource is if everybody plays along and its obvious that will never be the case.

Re:Seems partly justified (2)

portnoy (16520) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733843)

But the minimum is 200 not 398.98 so the judge could have decreased it again by almost half. As it is, it just seems like the political cop out "I don't like this bill that I am signing and supporting..."

You're confusing two things here. $398.98 is the amount the judge granted as "disgorged profits" -- in other words, money that UMaple directly made off of MapleStory's work. In this case, it's only the amount of money they made from AdSense revenue.

But that's separate from the copyright infringment. The infringement penalties have nothing to do with any money that UMaple made; it's just a statutory penalty with mandatory minimums for each copy. That's where the minimums come in.

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732729)

There exists no philosophical or economic theories that provide support for the concept of intellectual property. So it is unjustified, always.

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732781)

Wow, it's amazing that the concept has existed for hundreds of years without any philosophical or economic theories backing it up, then.

Re:Seems partly justified (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732791)

There exists no philosophical or economic theories that provide support for the concept of intellectual property. So it is unjustified, always.

Wow. Blindly dismissing arguments you don't agree with by saying they don't exist.

You know what you need to do?

Grow a brain.

Then learn to use it.

Re:Seems partly justified (3, Insightful)

Shavano (2541114) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732895)

Only hundreds of years of patent and copyright protection.

But this is a case of unauthorized intrusion not copyright violation.

Re:Seems partly justified (2)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733619)

First, copyrights and patents are NOT ownership (especially patents, they only last 20 years). I don't own the stories I write, I merely have a "limited" time monopoly on their publications. They're not my property. For the MAFIAA to call stories and songs their "property" is theft of culture.

Second, it is copyright violation and not unauthorized intrusion. The DMCA stands for digital millineum copyright Act. They violated DMCA by breaking the game's encryption to run it on their own servers. They didn't break into the copyright holder's servers.

Re:Seems partly justified (2)

jholyhead (2505574) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732737)

You're kidding, right? There is absolutely no reason to believe that the money people donated to UMaple would have otherwise been spent with MapleStory. MapleStory probably made money as a result of UMaple existing as it drew people into the community. When the judge making the finding is incredulous at the awards he is being forced to hand down, you know things have gotten out of hand.

Re:Seems partly justified (5, Insightful)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732757)

There is absolutely no reason to believe that the money people donated to UMaple would have otherwise been spent with MapleStory.

I'm not talking about a potential loss of revenue for MapleStory, I'm talking about the gain in revenue for UMaple
Kind of like the difference between downloading a movie off TPB and selling copies of the movie for a profit
And, yeah, the penalty does seem excessive.As I said, "partly" justified

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732793)

I'm not talking about a potential loss of revenue for MapleStory

Then why does it even matter?

Kind of like the difference between downloading a movie off TPB and selling copies of the movie for a profit

I don't see much of a difference, to be honest. I've seen some pirates who whine about the latter but defend the former, and that, to me, makes no sense. The end result is the same (copied without permission, may or may not have lost potential profit, etc).

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733295)

A sold copy IS a lost sale. A free copy isn't.

don't laugh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732827)

but i see people this every week, all week at all the local flea markets - along with music CDs, etc. - and people are buying them! just walk around an urban area's sidewalks...

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

TheVelvetFlamebait (986083) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732971)

Grr. This is a pet peeve of mine.

I'm not talking about a potential loss of revenue for MapleStory, I'm talking about the gain in revenue for UMaple
Kind of like the difference between downloading a movie off TPB and selling copies of the movie for a profit

Copyright law is supposed to protect the artist, not stop people from making a profit. The problem is that the people who have the artistic talent are not seeing results for their hard work, not that someone else is making money. You have to remember that the wrongdoing is against the artist. What harm does the money do to the artist, over giving it away for free? About the only difference I can see is that the giving away for free simply saturates the market more with the illegitimate goods, since more people would take it. But for some reason (latent jealousy is about the only reason I can come up with), making money is frowned upon, and even though we don't prosecute it, it somehow makes every crime worse.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

kelemvor4 (1980226) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733395)

Grr. This is a pet peeve of mine.

I'm not talking about a potential loss of revenue for MapleStory, I'm talking about the gain in revenue for UMaple Kind of like the difference between downloading a movie off TPB and selling copies of the movie for a profit

Copyright law is supposed to protect the artist, not stop people from making a profit. The problem is that the people who have the artistic talent are not seeing results for their hard work, not that someone else is making money. You have to remember that the wrongdoing is against the artist. What harm does the money do to the artist, over giving it away for free? About the only difference I can see is that the giving away for free simply saturates the market more with the illegitimate goods, since more people would take it. But for some reason (latent jealousy is about the only reason I can come up with), making money is frowned upon, and even though we don't prosecute it, it somehow makes every crime worse.

That's definitely a problem, but not the one at issue here. I'd say that problem has to do with the contracts artists enter into with big companies to sell their work for them. In this case the artist (or developer) was already paid the pittance they agreed to write the software for I'm quite sure.

Re:Seems partly justified (3, Insightful)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732985)

It's more like someone writing a web server that works great with Chrome or some Chrome features and creating a website that they charge access to get to...

Now, is it appropriate for Google to go after that company because they are making money?

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

ByzantineAlex (1327353) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733055)

Not at all. It's more like someone using parts of google's code and charging for it !

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733109)

Is there proof or evidence that UMaple is using Maple Story code? Does UMaple post the Maple Story client for download without permission?

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

nhat11 (1608159) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732773)

The private servers are not as popular as the official servers, but the more used private servers always make money and thats more than their server upkeep.

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732775)

In this case I wouldn't consider it to mean much that the Judge doesn't like the award. The defendants opted not to respond to the lawsuit which means that the Judge had to enter a default judgment and as soon as the plaintiffs asked for statutory damages which limited what the judge could do.

At this level the judge isn't able to do anything else, one of the appellate courts could do something about it, but I doubt they will.

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732761)

Ha ...arent apple doing the same ? :)

Re:Seems partly justified (5, Insightful)

Lucky_Norseman (682487) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732783)

"minimum of $200 per infringement" why is the $200 multiplied by the number of clients? Its the server that they claim is infringing, why not just $200 per server?

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732881)

I didn't actually read the article, so take this with a grain of salt, but my suspicion is going to be because they distributed a modified game client that allowed people to connect to their server. Each modified client download was probably read as a separate violation of the DMCA circumvention clause.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733325)

The article says the customer could use the official client to connect, doesn't sound like they distributed a modified copy of the client.

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39733455)

Regardless, the law is "per infringment." Each client is representative of an act of infringement. Saying the server only violated once is silly and an extremely obtuse interpreation.

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39733579)

How do you figure that?

if I make one photocopy of a popular book, that's one infringement. If I have that photocopy laminated and leave it chained to a public bench where a large number of people read it does that make it more infringements?

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39733807)

You obviously have to modify it somehow to get it to connect to something that isn't the official server (I doubt they are having each user edit their host file). Either some script was run to alter the official game client, or more likely (since they probably couldn't keep client/server patch compatibility otherwise) they were distributing slightly modified versions of the official game client. Either way, it could be construed as a long series of DMCA circumventions.

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732893)

Because no one bothered to show up to defend it...

Re:Seems partly justified (3, Insightful)

c (8461) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732921)

> Its the server that they claim is infringing, why not just $200 per server?

Because the plaintiff's goal is to maximize the damages. It was a default judgement, so the defendent didn't show up to do anything to minimize anything.

If there'd been an actual trial with both parties, there's a good chance that the judge might have bought that argument. Or the argument that it was the actual users who did the circumvention. Or, IIRC, there's an exception for compatibility purposes. Plenty of options.

There could be an appeal. Or, if UMaple doesn't have much in the way of assets, they might just declare bankruptcy and walk away from the whole thing. That'd probably be the smart move.

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39733329)

Or, if UMaple doesn't have much in the way of assets, they might just declare bankruptcy and walk away from the whole thing. That'd probably be the smart move.

Ignoring a lawsuit and getting a default judgment against your company is probably not going to be seen as a corporate executive acting like a corporate executive. I would think that the corporate veil is easily pierced and the plaintiff can go after the people personally.

Re:Seems partly justified (2)

The-Forge (84105) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732813)

But if you take that logic to it's extreme you wind up with Microsoft or Google suing the whole net because you're using their intellectual property (the browser) to access a services other than a Microsoft or Google one without getting their permission and making money. I know this thought will never happen, but it's still a extension of the logic.

Back to the crux of this though, The UMaple people clean room reverse engineered the MapleStory server to run a completely separate environment. There was no true profit, it looks like they were getting donations to keep it running. I just can't see the DMCA circumvention here, but I believe Blizzard used this same threat against some users a few years ago who were trying to reverse engineer the WoW server.

It's all out of control. Adapt or die has become adapt or litigate and heading towards litigate or litigate. Shakespeare was right.

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732945)

Care to quote where either Google or Microsoft claim that their browsers are only to access their sites? If not, you're a troll.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

The-Forge (84105) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733173)

They don't, it's just taking Nexon's argument to the extremes. Things such as that are governed by the EULAs, which still begs the question, does a EULA violation constitute a DMCA circumvention. Did UStory break a DRM lock that's not being mentioned?

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

Megane (129182) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733197)

Back to the crux of this though, The UMaple people clean room reverse engineered the MapleStory server to run a completely separate environment.

Too bad they didn't show up in court to make that argument.

The lesson here: if someone is suing you for a (potentially) large amount, don't ignore it. Default judgments will never be in favor of the side that didn't show up.

Re:Seems partly justified (3, Insightful)

NatasRevol (731260) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733335)

No, you missed the lesson.

The lesson here: If you're being sued in a US court and you're not a US company, ignore it because you won't have to pay for it. And the US company will still have to pay it's lawyers while looking idiotic.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732821)

Oh no! Not making money without asking permission!

Why should someone who runs a server have to get the permission of whoever wrote the client?

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

jimshatt (1002452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732889)

I hope they didn't count me, since I play on UMaple with telnet! (Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Maplix is.)

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732991)

Is that a rhetorical question? The answer is because that is the way the law (DMCA) is written.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733079)

The OP said that the fact that UMaple makes money without first getting the permission of MapleStory is inherently bad. The law is not the definition of "good" or "bad," so I am simply asking for justification for that position. Why should someone who runs a server, who is providing a service to willing customers, first have to get the permission of the people who wrote a client that can connect to that server?

The fact that the law says they are supposed to do such a thing is not relevant; the law is nothing but lobbyist-created garbage, it has no ethical basis.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733389)

law, -s: Rule created to protect those that create them.
criminal, -s: Someone who cannot first change a law to make his actions legal.

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732903)

Yes, 'cause Microsoft deserves money from Google (it's possible to use gmail instead of the indended hotmail.com with outlook).

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39733043)

What do you mean Outlook is "intended" to use hotmail.com...
Firstly, Outlook is a client that can use anything, however it's mainly designed to take advantage of Exchange servers. Hotmail, Gmail et al use SMTP or POP3 for the explicit ability to let you use ANY client you want.
MapleStory doesn't. It's a game. The connection details and data sent from the client would have been sniffed and reverse engineered *without permission*. The server software written from scratch or somehow copied.

Anonymous coward my arse. Anonymous numpty more like.

Re:Seems partly justified (3, Insightful)

Asic Eng (193332) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732911)

UMaple was after all making money from software written by MapleStory, without their permission

So what? If the users legally obtained the software, they don't owe MapleStory any further income.

ObCarAnalogy: If you buy a car you don't need to have it serviced by the manufacturer, you don't need to buy fuel from them and you can get your tires elsewhere.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732949)

So, I have a question for you. If someone writes an Exchange server by reverse engineering the protocols that Outlook connects to and interfaces with... and someone pays for access to that server... the people that wrote the server should have to pay Microsoft because Microsoft wrote the Outlook Client?

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733059)

If
a) The protocols were proprietary and not open protocols(IDK if Exchange uses IMAP,etc or some proprietary stuff)
AND
b)The Outlook client was free with an implied understanding that it would be used with an Exchange server, instead of being sold as a separate piece of software
Then probably yes

Re:Seems partly justified (2)

nschubach (922175) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733135)

a.) Reverse engineering (clean room style) a protocol is not illegal or forbidden (see Wine)
b.) I see no reason that this point is the responsibility of the people who wrote the server. Maybe the person running the client is violating the intent of the application, but it's not in any way the fault of the server software.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733449)

You are not entitled to suing just because your business model of bait and switch failed.

Or, actually... it seems you are...

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732967)

So slashdot should also be penalized, right? They solicit payments that leads to enhanced privileges: http://slashdot.org/faq/subscriptions.shtml [slashdot.org]

And I'm pretty sure they didn't get permission from Microsoft and Mozzila and Google and Opera and Apple and all the other web browser producers whose software their users use to access slashdot.

In fact I know they didn't since I just accessed slashdot with a web browser I just wrote and they certainly never got my permission.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

mehrotra.akash (1539473) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733065)

If those companies owned HTTP, then sure
Or, if the intent of IE,Firefox,etc was to access only their manufacturers websites

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733761)

Both are arguable.

But that's irrelevant since neither of them are in the original claim the bredth of which is all I was disputing.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

Alien Being (18488) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733105)

The users bought the software and used it as they saw fit, on a competitors server. Why should anyone need permission from MapleStory to use a product they've already paid for.

Judgement or not, I hope they never collect a dime.

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

flimflammer (956759) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733169)

I agree that a penalty is justified, but 3.5 million is certainly not justified. I don't even think several thousand is justified. It's a sad day when even the judge even agrees but our laws are so screwed up that he's forced to accept it. I am curious why the $200 penalty was multiplied by the user count, though. If it's a server, wouldn't that be a single infraction?

As for what UMaple actually made, I find it hard to look down on them too hard. Only some odd $400 in AdSense revenue? I doubt their actual donations were that much higher with such a low user base, regardless of earning "enhanced privileges."

Re:Seems partly justified (1)

Paradigma11 (645246) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733289)

UMaple users can play MapleStory (using the MapleStory client software) without ever touching MapleStory's servers. UMaple then solicits "donations" that lead to enhanced privileges in the UMaple environment.

In this case some penalty does seem justified
UMaple was after all making money from software written by MapleStory, without their permission

Why should the producers of MapleStory care if the infringer makes any money from it?

Re:Seems partly justified (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39733731)

The logic probably works like this.

If users didn't pay for the enhanced privileges on UMaple, then they may not have been willing to pay money to begin with for the game so while MapleStory may feel ripped off for developing the client software for no gain, they haven't actually lost potential income. If the user did pay for anything (even things that the real MapleStory doesn't have), then that is money that otherwise may otherwise have gone to MapleStory to buy items in game.

Not justified (1)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733837)

Another example of computer laws/licensing not making sense in the real world.

>> "UMaple was after all making money from software written by MapleStory, without their permission."

If UMaple were making or selling car parts they would be OK. Autozone or NAPA sell parts not manufactured by the car maker. Instead of donations they can outright sell parts that service or enhance a car built by a 3rd party. They would be a similar relationship to the customer - they are offering an alternative to using factory part (or server in this case). Or perhaps UMaple decided to operate a towing/repair service - now they are actually servicing the car build by a 3rd party and soliciting even more money from the customer of a 3rd party car manufacturer.
   

17938 infringements or just 1? (4, Insightful)

c_g_hills (110430) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732765)

I don't see how they work out that it is 17938 infringements when they only set up one server, so they have only infringed once.

Re:17938 infringements or just 1? (3, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732797)

I agree. I'm sure the law says "per work" infringed. not per person infringing. The rationale for the damages I thought was that you can't know how many users infringed.

Re:17938 infringements or just 1? (5, Informative)

tomhath (637240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732861)

FTA:

17 USC 1203 sets a statutory damages minimum of $200 per act of circumvention. UMaples' client, the "UMaple Launcher," allegedly bypassed the access controls in MapleStory's client software. UMaple had 17,938 users.

I suppose one could argue what "act of circumvention" means. But apparently it doesn't mean 17K users avoiding payment to the rightful owner of the software is just one act.

Re:17938 infringements or just 1? (1)

Amouth (879122) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733257)

but by that argument wouldn't it be one count for the server and then one for each of the clients, as they knew they not using the autorized server.. so really this defendant is liable for one count and each of the users are each in their own liable for a count.. so if they wnat the 3.6m they will need to solicit it from the actual 17k people who bypassed the DRM

Re:17938 infringements or just 1? (5, Informative)

Megane (129182) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733211)

I don't see how they work out that it is 17938 infringements when they only set up one server, so they have only infringed once.

That would probably because that was the argument from the only side that showed up.

Mistake (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732795)

Court messed up pretty majorly here, statutory damages is per infringing work, not per infrigement.

Is this similiar to the Battle.net case? (1)

sohmc (595388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732809)

I vaguely recall that someone had developed a program that mimicked battle.net, so people could host their own Starcraft game servers. Blizzard eventually sued and shut down the program.

It sounds like the facts are similar, except that in the MapleStory case, the people were making money whereas the battle.net clone was just some developer who released his stuff open-source.

Anyone with a better memory than me?

Re:Is this similiar to the Battle.net case? (5, Informative)

NotQuiteInsane (981960) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732891)

You're thinking about Bnetd -- Blizzard sued the dev team under the terms of the DMCA. As I recall, the main issue was that they'd created a Battle.net emulator which didn't implement CD key checking -- Blizzard refused to allow Bnetd to validate CD keys against Battle.net (citing security and piracy fears), and proceeded to send a DMCA takedown to the Bnetd project's ISP.

Blizzard then sued the Bnetd developers and their ISP (in addition to the takedown request), alleging copyright infringement, trademark infringement, breaking the Battle.net and several Blizzard games' EULAs *and* several DMCA violations to boot. The EFF defended the dev team, but Blizzard still won the lawsuit, the Bnetd.org domain, and a judgment against the original developers.

Proof positive that Blizzard were definitely in the "evil" category long before the Activision merger.

(However this didn't stop the GPL'd source code of the Bnetd project ending up on many, *many* servers worldwide... far out of reach of the DMCA restrictions)

(Disclaimer: any opinions presented herein are my own, and not necessarily those of any other entity)

Re:Is this similiar to the Battle.net case? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39733757)

I'm not sure how protecting your IP is evil... but okay.

Judge Grudge (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39732833)

Pay your dues citizen.

If we could only figure out how to.... (1)

3seas (184403) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732839)

... do this with all cheats (i.e. banks) we'd all be rich.

Re:If we could only figure out how to.... (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733535)

Doesn't work if the cheats write the laws.

Where is the DRM circumvention? (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732867)

Where is the DRM circumvention. Did UMaple modify the original commercial clients? If all they did was set up a server that somebody accessed with a client, how is that circumventing DRM. It might be using the software for a purpose other than intended, but, my wife who teaches kindergarten takes old CDs and the kids make mosaics from them. That to is using it for a purpose other than intended.

I'm not saying what they did was legal, but it seems that a different statute than DRM circumvention would be at hand.

Re:Where is the DRM circumvention? (1)

jimshatt (1002452) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732915)

I hope they're not selling those mosaics, or she'll be in trouble! I stopped using them as a coaster, because I'm too afraid of MPAA raids (and I don't even live in the US!).

Here is the DRM circumvention. (4, Interesting)

PSVMOrnot (885854) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732977)

The server is not the issue here, or at least not the main one.

The part that is landing UMaple with the $3.6 million fine is that in order to make the official MapleStory client look to UMaple's server instead they had to write a little launcher app (UMaple Launcher) which would presumably do something like an in-memory edit to change the server address the client used. Possibly with a modification to some sort of handshaking protocol.

It's the technological equivalent of ignoring a 'do not enter' sign, rather than the actual bypassing of security, but sadly it still seems to count.

This launcher is the part that is being used by the 17K users, and so where the court is getting the 17K counts of infringement from.

Re:Here is the DRM circumvention. (4, Interesting)

sandytaru (1158959) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733121)

That is actually pretty common. I use a modified launcher for my MMORPG, which then allows me access to third party plugins. Since the group that made the launcher has not solicited donations, and all the play still occurs on the main servers so we still pay the original licensing fees and monthly fees to the actual company producing the game, they haven't gone after the group that made the circumventing launcher just yet.

Re:Here is the DRM circumvention. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39733243)

That is basically correct. I played MapleStory back when people were actively doing this. The official MapleStory client is hardcoded to connect to Nexon's (that's the company's name, the articles get it wrong) servers. In order to get it to connect to another server, people like UMaple's developers would strip the DRM protection out of the official client launcher and modify it to connect to their servers. They violated Nexon's exclusive right to create derivative works and violated the DMCA to do it. Furthermore, MapleStory is a free to play game that makes money off of "donations" (someone once told me that Nexon America is legally registered as a nonprofit), so UMaple's acceptance of donations should have been clearly linked to their infringement. The 3.6 million award is pretty steep for what they did, but UMaple is far from an innocent victim.

Re:Where is the DRM circumvention? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733553)

Hold it, hold it... Those AOL coasters I've had for the longest time look stunningly like CDs now that I look at them...

Does each user have to count separately? (0)

apcullen (2504324) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732883)

IANAL-- but why not just say that the server itself was one infringement and fine them $200?

Excessive Fines? (2)

JDG1980 (2438906) | more than 2 years ago | (#39732951)

In fact, it sounds like the court would very much like to decrease the amount, but notes that 'nevertheless, the court is powerless to deviate from the DMCA's statutory minimum.'

The court should have ruled that a $3.6 million award would violate the Eighth Amendment prohibition against "excessive fines," and that this portion of the DMCA was therefore unconstitutional as applied to this particular case. (It's not that unusual for courts to decide that while a law is constitutional "on its face," it is unconstitutional "as applied."

Used to block anything that wasn't IE (1)

GerbilSoft (761537) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733017)

The only thing I remember Maple Story for was how they blocked any browser that wasn't Internet Explorer from even viewing their website a few years ago. Screw them.

The judge, had the power to dismiss it. (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733021)

But he chose not to.

Default judgment (3, Insightful)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733025)

Let this be a lesson: If you're sued, even if you think the lawsuit is the dumbest thing on Earth, you should still show up to defend yourself. If you don't, things like this happen.

Re:Default judgment (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733585)

Let this be a lesson: If you're sued, even if you think the lawsuit is the dumbest thing on Earth, you should still show up to defend yourself. If you don't, things like this happen.

Unless you live beyond the reach of the country with the dumbest lawsuit on Earth.

Re:Default judgment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39733751)

It's so true and everyone should be aware of it if they are based in the US. Even if you just show up with no lawyer and your not even properly prepared it's still better to always show up, or respond to the court in some way, else you're guaranteed to lose 99.9% of the time.

In this case however it sounds like the defendants are overseas and based in a nation that otherwise doesn't give a crap and has no intention of enforcing such a judgment of a US court, not to mention the defendants having no intention of paying it.

Default judgment (2)

Cajun Hell (725246) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733029)

DMCA isn't what is most fucked up here. The real problem is for default judgment to automatically mean total lack of judgment. If both parties don't show up, then for some reason the judge is required to ignore how the facts compare to the law. Justice isn't even half-heartedly attempted.

I suspect this ridiculous process is one of those things that is long-established by judicial tradition but has never been penned by any legislator, so the people have have no say in the matter.

Re:Default judgment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39733111)

It's a pretty simple and fair rule. Show up if you want to win. If it didn't exist, people would never show up to defend lawsuits.

Re:Default judgment (3, Interesting)

MobyDisk (75490) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733299)

If both parties don't show up

That isn't what happened. In this case, only the defense didn't show up. Since they provided no defense, they are guilty. If both parties don't show-up then there is no evidence of a crime so common law jurisprudence requires that the judge rule in favor of the defendant.

Re:Default judgment (1)

jpapon (1877296) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733495)

Since they provided no defense, they are guilty.

I think this is the part the OP has a problem with. Unfortunately, in an adversarial judicial system, it's the only possibility (unless of course the case of the side which shows up is completely without merit).

The real reason the judge was annoyed (4, Interesting)

MasterPatricko (1414887) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733261)

Instead, Plaintiff merely submitted 252 raw pages of documents obtained through discovery without so much as a summary of the information contained in those documents or an explanation to the Court how any of the line items contained therein directly relate to Kumar’s UMaple activities.

Seems to me that's the real reason the judge wasn't feeling like awarding any more damages, not some kind of protest against the DMCA or statutory damages.

THIS is why you need juries involved (1)

ka9dgx (72702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39733485)

A properly formed jury could have nullified the law and saved everyone a huge amount of grief here.

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