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Blizzard Folds on WoW Guide Suit

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the easy-way-out dept.

46

Agent writes "You may remember the suit that Brian Kopp brought against Blizzard, Vivendi and the ESA in March of this year. He sued due to wrongful takedowns under the DMCA of his ebay auctions. The case was settled today, allowing him to resell his guide on eBay and his personal site. The settlement helps more than just Kopp, as it sets a precedent for future interactions of this nature with game companies."

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First??? (-1, Offtopic)

DrJonesAC2 (652108) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505199)

Eh... Nevermind

Re:First??? (-1, Offtopic)

BobPaul (710574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505214)

I was just going to do something like that myself. 5 minutes without discussion is pretty bad for slashdot...

Re:First??? (1)

LiquidCoooled (634315) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505244)

Actually, I think its something to do with the new CSS.
You cannot tell if an abbreviated article is in the mysterious future or not (normal articles have a red tint, and the abbreviated ones used to as well).

Either that or its just a crappy article ;)

Too little, too late (2, Insightful)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505216)

I'm glad they settled, but it doesn't make up for all the shit they put the bnetd guys through, or the fact that they constantly ignore what their user community wants, or the whole silly 'gay marriage' thing in WoW.

I'm afraid they're all just corporate asshats. It's sad, but I'd love to see a mass exodus of the creative people who brought us StarCraft to somewhere else, so that we could get some games that are worth playing.

welcome to 2002 (4, Informative)

BitterAndDrunk (799378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505365)

It's sad, but I'd love to see a mass exodus of the creative people who brought us StarCraft to somewhere else, so that we could get some games that are worth playing.

I'm pretty certain all of the lead designers moved on a while ago.

Guild Wars is an ex-Blizzard thing, as is Hellgate: London.

Re:Too little, too late (2, Informative)

Surt (22457) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505522)

There was already such a mass exodus. Over the last couple of years they've lost over 50% of the Starcraft guys, 90% of the Diablo I/II guys, I'm not sure on Warcraft ... over 50% from WarII are gone, WOW has probably not lost quite as many because it is still bringing in the bucks.

Too late indeed. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15507015)

Everyone from Blizzard bailed years ago. Some of them made Guild Wars for instance.

Precedent (1)

HeavensBlade23 (946140) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505224)

I thought settlements avoided the issue of precedent?

Can't spell precedent without PR (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505333)

True, a settlement does not create a binding judicial precedent in the way that a judgment does. But if a firm offers a settlement to one party, then other parties are likely to demand the same settlement, and it would be a PR nightmare for the firm not to extend the offer to them.

Re:Precedent (1)

popsicle67 (929681) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506913)

You are exactly right and if they choose to sue somebody else nobody can go back to this settlement and say you did this so you can't sue us. They probably figure they have more people they can go after they just need a more sympathetic judge.

There really isn't a president being set here (2, Informative)

therealking (223121) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505239)

Blizzard settled out of court. So there is no legal president set.

You can't goto a judge and say well in Blizzard vs. Knopp they settled so it's an open and shut case your honor.

Re:There really isn't a president being set here (1)

kalirion (728907) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505339)

Blizzard settled out of court. So there is no legal president set.

There's still a precedent here, even if it isn't a legal one. It shows users that it is possible for them to successfully fight the game companies on this kind of issue, though it may be expensive.

Power of the fourth estate (3, Insightful)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505377)

Blizzard settled out of court. So there is no legal president set.

A Freudian slip about President Bush's legitimacy? ;-) But seriously, assuming you meant "precedent", you're right in a strict sense, but here's why it doesn't matter as much as some may think:

You can't goto a judge

But you can go to a journalist, who may be able to spin up the discrimination. Settling in the same way may be easier for a firm than denying a settlement and facing a PR nightmare.

Re:Power of the fourth estate (1)

KDR_11k (778916) | more than 8 years ago | (#15508135)

The difference is that as long as your case has merit a judge must hear you while a journalist can tell you "sorry, not interested" and your story won't reach anything larger than some niche gaming website.

Re:Power of the fourth estate (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15508972)

The difference is that as long as your case has merit a judge must hear you while a journalist can tell you "sorry, not interested"

The other difference is that forum shopping is a lot easier because while judges are limited to a territorial jurisdiction, journalists aren't. There are a lot more journalists than judges, especially if the alleged infringer can harness a lot of small-time journalists from the so-called blogosphere. As a first try, the journalist who took the first story is likely to take subsequent stories, at least as a follow-up.

Wrong - A settlement doesn't set a precedent (5, Informative)

Manip (656104) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505263)

Wrong! Only a court can set a legal precedent... Out of court settlements are just that, out of court agreements to "Not sue, if X, Y and Z terms are met." Common Law allows a judge / court to make decisions that have to be examined when the same (or similar) cases come before it or a lower court again, and thus how a precedent is formed.

You can't use this case to even defend against Blizzard themselves suing you unfortunately, let alone anyone else... If Blizzard had gone to court and lost then it would have set a new precedent for unofficial gaming guides, but you can't use an out-of-court settlement because for one thing the court often isn't even aware of the terms of that settlement.

Court != court (2, Interesting)

tepples (727027) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505397)

Only a court can set a legal precedent

And only a journalist can set a precedent in the court of public opinion.

You can't use this case to even defend against Blizzard themselves suing you unfortunately, let alone anyone else

Think outside the box. Even if you can't defend yourself in a court of law, you can still defend yourself by threatening to make the company's public relations a living h*ll.

Re:Actually legal precedents are theoretical (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#15509607)

Wrong! Only a court can set a legal precedent... Out of court settlements are just that, out of court agreements to "Not sue, if X, Y and Z terms are met."

And just because a court decides in a certain way doesn't mean the precedent is legally binding.

It just means that it has been tried in court and chances are if the same incident (or similar) was tried in court again that it would receive the same verdict and judges often time use other cases to decide how to rule.

However... If the prior judge was insane, smoking crack, or just plain nuts and you made an appeal to another court and they said "Yeah... This guy is nuts... We don't know why he ruled that way... Case overturned!"

And even then... When you have juries involved you can get totally different outcomes at different trials so precedants are nothing but speculation on what would happen the next time it gets tried in court.

no precedent (0, Redundant)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505266)

Actually, this does not set precedent. There's no court ruling for other courts to reference, a private settlement is not a valid law.

This actually keeps other companies from having to allow this.

Actually, it doesn't set precedent.... (0, Redundant)

CmdrSlack555 (451965) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505301)

Settling a case does not create precedent. It may establish that Blizzard will fold on this specific issue, but it does not create any kind of binding precedent or persuasive precedent in any U.S. court of law.

But is it any good? (1)

GoatRider (965138) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505370)

What I'd like to know, is this guide any good?

Re:But is it any good? (0, Redundant)

wh0pper (928216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505659)

I'd like to know if it's any good as well.

Re:But is it any good? (1)

thesandtiger (819476) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506735)

If it's the guide I'm thinking of (Joana's) then yeah, it's pretty OK. There are lots of free guides out there that will give as much or more info, but that one is freakishly fast. I've a friend who's run alts through it 2x on new servers, and he's been able to hit 60 both times in under 5 days /played, if I remember right.

Re:But is it any good? (2, Interesting)

garylian (870843) | more than 8 years ago | (#15507526)

What's the point of getting alts to lvl 60 in 5 days? Besides not sleeping and having zero social life, you haven't really enjoyed a single moment of the game.

I don't play MMOs to hit max level uber-fast. I play them to enjoy them. I liked the fact that it took me about 6 months to hit 60, because WoW was exceedingly boring for a lvl 60 toon. You had a choice of griding for crap drop rates of gear, or doing PvP for a honorless Honor System. Aren't you glad you got your toon to that point in 5 days????

Needless to say, the wife and I were out of the game 2 weeks after hitting 60, with sporadic attempts over the next 2 months of trying to find interest in playing an alt on the other faction. Didn't work, accounts cancelled, never looked back.

Re:But is it any good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15508136)

5 days in /played doesn't equal 5 days in real time. I don't see how it would have any impact on sleep or social life.

Re:But is it any good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15508470)

What's the point of getting alts to lvl 60 in 5 days? Besides not sleeping and having zero social life, you haven't really enjoyed a single moment of the game.

No, *you* haven't enjoyed a single moment of the game. I hate to break it to you, but you are not the only person in the world, nor do you have a monopoly on valid ways to enjoy yourself.

I really do get a kick out of how you're modded insightful, despite the fact that your comment shows that you actually have no insight what-so-ever. You know what *you* like, but seem to be completely incapable of processing the concept that other people might actually be able to enjoy something you don't care for.

Personally, I'm pretty bored by most MMO's - they're either much too easy to get to the endgame (in which case the endgame is worthless), or they are insanely grind-heavy (in which case, not for me, I have a real job already and don't want another), or there's simply nothing much to do after a certain point. But, despite *my* lack of enjoyment of the genre, I am still able to appreciate that other people have fun with them and might even (gasp!) specifically enjoy the parts that I hate.

Re:But is it any good? (1)

andi75 (84413) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513305)

> I liked the fact that it took me about 6 months to hit 60, because WoW was exceedingly boring for a lvl 60 toon.

It may come as a surprise to you, but for some people *it is fun* to see 20 or 40 people working together, play their classes well, and kill the uber bosses in Molten Core or Zul'Gurub (it's not just W00t-EPIXXX! - of course, we dont mind those either).

- Rhonac (Thunderhorn EU)

Re:But is it any good? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15509169)

I purchased this guide and I found it next to useless. It is a collection of what seem to be forum posts assembled into PDF files with no continuity whatsoever. I am very disappointed to say the least.

What a Rip! (1)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505684)

Blizzard got away without paying any damages to Kopp. I would say they owed tens of thousands of dollars to him minimum. I don't call that much of a victory for Kopp.

If I was the Evil Overlord, Blizzard would be roasting over an open fire right about now.

Re:What a Rip! (1)

loraksus (171574) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506225)

Precisely, this was not a win for Kopp in any sense of the word. This is bullshit, not a settlement.

Re:What a Rip! (1)

cluke (30394) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506780)

Well, to get something positive out of this, at least you can say he got the sort of advertising that money just can't buy!

Gaming company discovers... (0, Redundant)

Il128 (467312) | more than 8 years ago | (#15505713)

It actually doesn't rule the world?! Do citizens have actual rights too?! News at E'leven!

Guess I'm the minority (3, Insightful)

Avatar8 (748465) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506224)

I saw nothing wrong with Blizzard protecting their content AND all opportunities (read marketing) that stem from that content.

What I see is this guy capitalizing off Blizzard's work. I dislike that, but it is the way of the capitalist world in which we live.

It also sickens me that the guide is geared towards making money in WoW, supports (ads on the website) buying gold for real money and in general demeans the essence of the game. All of this leads to imbalances that once done cannot be undone. In short, this is all leading towards ruining the game.

I personally wish Blizzard would strongly enforce their Terms of Service agreement that states that all virtual property in World of Warcraft belongs to Blizzard and therefore cannot be sold.

Re:Guess I'm the minority (1)

crumshot (746676) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506407)

Unfortunately, there's ways around their ToS (I don't know it verbatim, so take what I'm about to say with a grain of salt). I know someone who just put his account up for sale on eBay and it was closed by eBay, which is expected. He reposted and got a successful sale, just because he changed some of the verbiage within. Instead of selling his account, he said something along the lines of "I'm giving away the game and account for free as I am no longer interested in playing my character anymore, and you are paying me only for my time invested."

That sale went through and he made somewhere in the ballpark of $600 by selling two epic'ed out level 60 characters.

Re:Guess I'm the minority (1)

SEAL (88488) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506725)

Blizzard's Terms of Use (at least last time I checked) allows reselling an account, *provided* that you sell the entire game, CD, documentation, original box, etc... along with it. That sticks to first sale doctrine, so hats off to them for that.

Re:Guess I'm the minority (1)

WhiteWolf666 (145211) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506869)

It does, but it also prohibits you from transferring any "virtual" assets (characters, gold) for real money. Without exception.

It's very contradictory.

Re:Guess I'm the minority (1)

spacebird (859789) | more than 8 years ago | (#15507405)

exactly. So if I'm tired of the game, I could sell my copy of the game to my neighbor so he doesn't have to buy a new copy from the store - I'd just have to delete my characters first.

I don't see what's contradictory about that.

Re:Guess I'm the minority (1)

Azari (665035) | more than 8 years ago | (#15508146)

What you state doesn't sound that contradictory to me. Selling the entire shebang isn't transferring virtual assets (as in, it's staying with the original account), whereas selling gold is counted as transferrance, as it is going from your account to someone else's.

I tend to disagree with both, as it's a game. Selling accounts ends up with high end characters in the hands of people who, well, are willing to buy accounts, and there are enough asshats out there without adding lazy asshats to the equation. Selling gold just drives up prices for everyone else. Both make the game less fun.

Having gone to have a read of the EULA that the game installed with and the terms of use on the website [worldofwarcraft.com] what does appear contradictory is in the EULA it states (as one of the parent posters mentioned) that

You may permanently transfer ownership of the Game and all parts thereof
whereas the terms of use state that
Blizzard Entertainment does not recognize the transfer of Accounts, and any authorized transfer of the World of Warcraft software (as set forth on the worldofwarcraft.com website) will result in the permanent deletion of the Account attached to that software.
So uh, you can transfer the game (with media etc) to someone else, but if you do so, the account gets deleted, meaning they're left with some useless physical material?

Re:Guess I'm the minority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15511177)

You forget that with wowcrack you pay for the boxed installer AND the monthly fee.

You can sell the boxed part, all well and good and first-sale-doctriny. It's just an installer, and useless without an account, which is the part that attracts the monthly fee. Their terms of service don't allow you to transfer that part, which they're within their rights to do, though of course the fact that people would want to transfer accounts raises questions about the quality of their game design... I sure didn't rush out to buy 100% completed save file when I got FEAR.

Re:Guess I'm the minority (3, Insightful)

Jamesday (794888) | more than 8 years ago | (#15506596)

It's already well established that you can produce things like a collector's guide without any authoization from the maker of what you're describing. One leading case involved Beanie Babies [ivanhoffman.com] and included photographs of them all. It was fair use even though it included photographs of them all because a collectors guide has to include all of the items. To quote from the decision:

"we may say that copying that is complementary to the copyrighted work ... is fair use, but copying that is a substitute for the copyrighted work ... is not fair use. ... A photograph of a Beanie Baby is not a substitute for a Beanie Baby."

It's clearly impossible for any book to replace the WoW gameplay experience. Hence, Blizzard had ample reason to know that their takedown notices were completely invalid and subjected them to the penalties under section 512(f) of the DMCA for sending false notices.

Re:Guess I'm the minority (1)

Yunzil (181064) | more than 8 years ago | (#15509810)

in general demeans the essence of the game


What does this even mean?

Re:Guess I'm the minority (1)

Avatar8 (748465) | more than 8 years ago | (#15512948)

It means to me that when you're in a fantasy RPG, you want to experience the fantasy and leave the real world behind for a little while. THAT world has its own politics, economics and other dynamics that make it unique.

When something like a strategy guide focused towards gaining you gold faster than other players is created, it causes an imbalance and allows the real world to bleed into the fantasy world. Knowing strategy of how to succeed in the game as a player is one thing; knowing all the shortcuts and loopholes that allow you to exploit the system is quite another.

Re:Guess I'm the minority (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15512492)

Nah, you're not a minority. There's plenty of little nerds wanking themselves over how great Blizzard is and how they could never do any wrong -- you're one of them. Pathetic, isn't it?

Fortunately, the rest of us are wise enough not to happily sign over part of our monthly income to a company that uses said money to press legal action upon the players. Try going outside and getting a life, you might get it after a while too.

Re:Guess I'm the minority (2, Interesting)

Pofy (471469) | more than 8 years ago | (#15513130)

>I personally wish Blizzard would strongly enforce their Terms of Service
>agreement that states that all virtual property in
>World of Warcraft belongs to Blizzard and therefore cannot be sold.

Which is completely irellevant since you don't sell anything in the normal meaning of selling anyway, it is about transfering items in the game and possession of items in the game, something completely allowed by the game. Actually there are specific systems such as pop up windows, auction houses and mail systems for transfering items between players. Imagine playing a game of monopoly and paying someone some money for a street, are you claiming that whoever holds the copyright, trademark or whatever can object to such a thing? Could the owner of the game do so? No, of course not. It could be against the rules of the game in which case the players of the game could protest and even throw you out. It has NOTHING to do with "virtual" or real property at all, nor of ownership, it has at most to do with rules of the game. besdies, would you say that after such a "sale" of items or gold that Blizzard is no longer "in possession" or "owning" it any more? How bizzare idea if you feel so.

eh watever. (1)

allforcarrie (901516) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516029)

my wife and I each have 3 lvl 60's and we have never paid real money for gold or items. all but one of our toons has an epic mount and I will be getting his soon.

Re:eh watever. (1)

MBGMorden (803437) | more than 8 years ago | (#15516441)

From what I've gathered, this guide was about how to farm in the game for yourself, not so much about buying gold with real money.
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