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Indie Lineage 2 Servers Shut Down

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the off-the-farm dept.

29

Gamasutra reports on efforts by NCSoft and the FBI to shut down independently-run Lineage 2 servers. The servers, run by an outfit called 'L2Extreme' were making a profit off of the unauthorized MMOG operation. Gamasutra had the chance to talk with FBI agent Thompson from Austin office. From the article: "Regarding the Lineage II server code, Thompson explained that it was 'really not determined' who had originally made it available, but the L2Extreme creators were 'certainly someone who was using [NCSoft's proprietary code] — that is at least part of the investigation.'"

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I just felt a disturbance in the force (4, Funny)

elrous0 (869638) | more than 7 years ago | (#16931774)

...as if a million South Koreans cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

-Eric

Re:I just felt a disturbance in the force (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16946724)

Only old people cried.

What the ?? (1)

green menace (806773) | more than 7 years ago | (#16932196)

From the article:
This group in particular was downloading our version of the Lineage II software from our servers, costing us close to a million dollars in realized bandwidth costs during the period it was operational.

Maybe I am clueless, but that seems a little high... Even if the claimed 500k registered L2Extreme users downloaded the client each 1 time, that would mean it costs them close to $2 to upload the file each time.

Re:What the ?? (3, Informative)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 7 years ago | (#16932752)

Maybe I am clueless, but that seems a little high... Even if the claimed 500k registered L2Extreme users downloaded the client each 1 time, that would mean it costs them close to $2 to upload the file each time.


It's more like besides the initial download, all the little incremental downloads as well (patches, updates, etc), which were hosted by NCSoft.

It's more akin to some website linking against photos you host on your website - you're stuck with the bills, and they profit. Of course, why NCSoft couldn't push an update, I don't know.

I find the Ars Technica [arstechnica.com] article informative.

Re:What the ?? (1)

Koutarou (38114) | more than 7 years ago | (#16940914)

OK, coctail-napkin math time:

Assume:
Bandwidth costs $50/mbit/sec (a reasonable ballpark figure if you're buying transit in bulk)
Client size is 2GB (Never played L2, but another guesstimate)
Peak 95th percentile bandwidth usage of 5 times average
The 500,000 users you just quoted

16,000,000,000 bits/(30*24*3600)=6172 bits/sec*$50/mbit/sec*500,000*5=$771,604

Not too far off those figures

Ars and UO (1)

Speare (84249) | more than 7 years ago | (#16932266)

Ars Technica had an article today highlighting what's known about this case, and what Ars themselves were doing during the "Open Ultima Online" days, providing a reproduction experience like the reverse-engineered official service.

What's the actual evidence that closed Lineage II code was stole^Winfringed, versus clean-room reproduced? What's the actual evidence that the knock-off groups were offering unlicensed copies of Lineage II clients? And like the RIAA-$$$$-per-song arguments, what's the actual lost revenue on official clients sold, if someone doesn't actually intend to connect to your official revenue-producing server?

Re:Ars and UO (2, Interesting)

RasputinAXP (12807) | more than 7 years ago | (#16932486)

I know that it's silly to assume that /.'ers have read the article, but had you clicked on the damned link, you'd have seen that he admitted it:
Jason Chambless is the original creator of L2Extreme. He played beta testing retail and one day found out that the Lineage II server files had been leaked. He liked the game so much, he then decided to use one of his spare computers to host the game.
So...admission of guilt is proof, n'est-ce pas?

Re:Ars and UO (2, Informative)

Thalagyrt (851883) | more than 7 years ago | (#16937130)

I've seen the files myself, worked with Jason a few years ago just for kicks - bored college student. They're definitely leaked, and completely illegal to use. There are whole forums dedicated to it, known in the L2 server scene as L2Off. I personally run a L2 server using an emulator, L2J, which uses no copyrighted files or whatnot and is not illegal. It is, however, a violation of the TOS to connect to it with the official client, but that just means that they can deny you play on the retail servers. Breach of a TOS is not a legal issue. Using the emulator is completely different from using stolen files - which is what Jason did. He and the other guy that ran it with him were pulling in thousands of dollars a month in donations, and the whole way it was run was very very corrupt. Nevermind the legal issues, the rest of the stuff they did was screwed up as well. I could go on and on but I see no point. I do know that personally when I saw the L2X site taken down last week I was happy as hell, they finally got what they deserved.

Re:Ars and UO (1)

Thalagyrt (851883) | more than 7 years ago | (#16937520)

Addendum: For the record, my server pretty much just has me and a few (8 or so) close friends of mine on it, and I really don't want to deal with more than that. I'm not trying to run a big server like the L2X guys were, and I wouldn't think of using the illegal official files. It's just a small distraction for fun.

Also, if anyone from NC reads this, I might be able to dig up some extra info on the L2X guys for you if I can find it in my chat logs. I also have a few friends who could help out as well, and probably would jump at the chance.

Re:Ars and UO (1)

Sparr0 (451780) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941094)

I think you make a key mistake here, and it is centered in the words "illegal to use". There is no law, barring odd DMCA applications, against USING software, EVER. You do not need a license to use software, or to have bought it. If I walk out on the street and find a copy of MS Office on a CDR then there is nothing stopping me from running it (except maybe 'installing it makes a copy' nonsense, which is covered in law AND precedent). The same goes here. Maybe they can get him for violating trade secrets or trademark infringement or something, but definitely not copyright violation.

Re:Ars and UO (1)

Thalagyrt (851883) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944374)

Jason distributed modified client files (artwork, libraries, etc) so that the C4 client and such could connect to his C1 hackjob server. The copyright on those files belongs to NCSoft.

I don't think using the server itself would be copyright violation, though it would probably fall under trade secret violation.

Distributing a modified client is clearly copyright infringement though, just as uploading a copy of a Windows XP CD or a copyrighted work of art is copyright infringement. If they can't nail him on the server, they can absolutely nail him on his distribution of copyrighted material.

This is the reason that the L2J community absolutely shuns modifying the client. If we had to modify it to connect to a server to play, we'd have to distribute those modifications for others to use, thus distributing a derivative of copyrighted material. Instead of that, since the server is synced up with the latest protocol anyway, all we do is poison our DNS to point l2authd.lineage2.com to whatever IP the server is running on using the hosts file. No modification and distribution of the client involved, no copyright infringement involved. People just get the client straight from Fileplanet.

I also think that the reason NCSoft no longer hosts the client on their own servers is because of all the downloads taking place for the private servers such as L2X, L2P, and L2R, which were the three biggest ones. L2P and L2R shut down on their own will after they saw L2X taken down, because they didn't want to get nailed as well.

The modification and redistribution of the client files is the main thing that the leaked private servers can get nailed on. By the time the server's leaked, the official client is out of sync with it and won't even connect. In turn, those servers are forced to release either patches or the entire client that's synced up with the specific leaked server they have, be those patches to the DLLs the game uses, or an entire client. Either way, they're distributing copyrighted works. The L2J emulator folk are not.

Indie? (2, Informative)

the_demiurge (26115) | more than 7 years ago | (#16932742)

These guys weren't so much independent game developers as guys who happened to get the leaked source code for the Lineage 2 servers.

Re:Indie? (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16934186)

no one needs to 'steal' the server code... lineage2 is based un a fairly unmodified Unreal engine. ncsoft's own servers were dumping the entire Unreal mod called 'lineage2' down to clients for years. A few people realised this and fired up their own servers.. not exactly a hard thing to do, if you have half a brain cell...

the only thing 'new' here is that someone tried to make some money off it and now are getting beaten by ncsoft & fbi.

Re:Indie? (1)

Thalagyrt (851883) | more than 7 years ago | (#16937332)

That isn't at all how it works... It's a highly modified Unreal engine, and the server isn't even close to being anormal Unreal server. But nice try.

Re:Indie? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#17005224)

You don't have to steal any original server files becayse reverse engineering game servers is easy.
Buy the game, capture and sniff bytes sent and received using a modified winsock.

Sometimes a demo of the game is enough. Most popular online game servers have been reverse engineered this way. Look at WOW.

Why Say "Indie"? (1, Flamebait)

TexVex (669445) | more than 7 years ago | (#16933470)

Why is this article calling them "independents" when they are apparently thieves? If I sell other people's music without their permission, that doens't make me an indie record label. It makes me a criminal.

Re:Why Say "Indie"? (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 7 years ago | (#16934448)

The reason the article calls them "independents" is because they're hosting their own servers, independent of NCSoft. Not really that difficult to grasp.

That's not theft. It's copyright infringement. Illegal yes, but not theft. Theft is depriving someone of property they own. IP is not property that can be owned; you can only hold the rights to distribute it.

If you own a widget shop and I steal some of your widgets to re-sell, that's theft. If I copy your plans to make the widgets and make identical widgets of my own to re-sell, that merely cuts into your potential profits. If you hold copyright on the widget plans, it's illegal for me to copy the plans and make widgets to sell but it holds less of a penalty than outright stealing widgets you made.

Re:Why Say "Indie"? (2, Interesting)

radarjd (931774) | more than 7 years ago | (#16937454)

That's not theft. It's copyright infringement. Illegal yes, but not theft. Theft is depriving someone of property they own. IP is not property that can be owned; you can only hold the rights to distribute it.

This has always been a curious argument to me. All property is like a bundle of rights. For example, you can lease your land to someone else. That person does not have all the rights to the land, but they do possess some rights, even against the true owner.

Or, let's say you have a car. You can sell that car to someone, that is, sell all the rights you possess to that car to someone. You can also transfer something less than all the rights you possess. For example, you could allow someone use of the car for a particular fee, or for a particular period of time.

A copyright is similarly a piece of property. The thing the copyright protects is not tangible, to be sure, but the copyright itself is most certainly property. You can sell it, or you can transfer certain rights that it encompasses.

If you're arguing over nominclature, the word "theft" can be a legally specific term defined in a certain way in a state's criminal code, but that is hardly dispositive of the issue. It might also be "criminal conversion" or "larceny".

In any case, copyright infringement does indeed involve depriving someone of a right granted by law, and that is the exclusive right to copy, distribute, perform, etc. that work (http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/html/uscode17/ usc_sec_17_00000106----000-.html). If someone besides the copyright holder performs one of those actions, the copyright holder is deprived of the exclusive right. There are, of course, defenses to violation of that right, just as there are defenses to theft. It does not make it less of a property right.

Re:Why Say "Indie"? (1)

Endo13 (1000782) | more than 7 years ago | (#16937924)

Actually it's not nearly that complicated. If I break into your house and run off with your new HD TV, that's theft. I'm now depriving you of actual property. You no longer have your TV and you can no longer use it. But let's say you also have a computer in your house, on which you're coding a piece of software. Instead of running off with your TV, I decide your software is probably worth more, so I just pop a flash-drive in your PC, copy the code on my disk, and run off with that instead. You still have your code. I have not deprived you the use of anything. At worst, I have possibly deprived you of potential profits.

That's a pretty big difference right there. The one is covered under the first amendment, the other is only covered by copyright law. Our constitution holds that all people have the right to own personal property, but nowhere does it imply that we have the right to profit from IP we hold the copy-right to. The purpose of copyright law is to stimulate creativity and innovation, not establish innate rights.

Re:Why Say "Indie"? (1)

radarjd (931774) | more than 7 years ago | (#16938524)

If I break into your house and run off with your new HD TV, that's theft. I'm now depriving you of actual property. You no longer have your TV and you can no longer use it.

Okay, correct me if I'm wrong, but it seems that, to you, only tangible property equals "actual property". That is to say, by your argument, no intangible property could be "actual property".

I just pop a flash-drive in your PC, copy the code on my disk, and run off with that instead. You still have your code. I have not deprived you the use of anything. At worst, I have possibly deprived you of potential profits.

I think a plain reading of the law belies that. 17 USC 106 grants the owner of a copyright the "exclusive right" to certain enumerated rights. While I have my code, I have been deprived of my exclusive rights. What I intended to do with that code is also immaterial.

The one is covered under the first amendment, the other is only covered by copyright law. Our constitution holds that all people have the right to own personal property, but nowhere does it imply that we have the right to profit from IP we hold the copy-right to.

I'm not precisely certain what you mean. What is covered here by the first amendment? Creation of the copyright law is, of course, an explicit power of Congress. The Constitution most certainly recognizes the ability of Congress to grant authors a monopoly on their writings for limited periods for the author's profit (see Article I, section 8 of the US Constitution). The monopoly is intended to allow authors to profit so that they have a motivation to create. At the end of the monopoly, the people gain the work for their own usage.

The purpose of copyright law is to stimulate creativity and innovation, not establish innate rights.

This I agree with you on. The method of stimulation, however, is to grant a limited monopoly so that an author can make money on his or her creation. And as a side note, other countries' laws do recognize copyright as sort of an innate right. France, iirc, has a particularly strong presumption that an artist has certain inherent rights in his or her work. The US doesn't really recognize this, though arguable 17 USC 106A is based on that idea.

Re:Why Say "Indie"? (1)

C0rinthian (770164) | more than 7 years ago | (#16939592)

The purpose of copyright law is to stimulate creativity and innovation, not establish innate rights.
One has little stimulation to be creative/innovative if it provides no benefit. The ability to profit from your creations is a significant benefit, and consequently a significant motivator. (Probably THE most significant motivator)

The current events in Second Life is a prime example of this. Players are able to freely copy the creations of others without permission. This is causing creators to close up shop because there is no benefit to their efforts.

Re:Why Say "Indie"? (1)

Ant P. (974313) | more than 7 years ago | (#16944304)

Selling physical audio media you bought doesn't make you a criminal either. And if you're unfortunate enough to live somewhere where the law's insane enough to make it illegal, chances are it still won't make you a criminal because you'd already be one for a million other things.

don't use silly logical arguments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#16933474)

"Operations like this essentially are defrauding customers by stealing from companies like NCsoft," said Matt Esber, NCsoft North America general counsel. "In the end those losses impact our customer support, product development, operational areas and ultimately they impact our player communities, most of which are trying to play games legitimately.

Yes because obviously the game is so awesome that those few people will pay for it now they can't play for free. ( and how in the hell does 50k people playing a game on free servers effect the retail's customer support and product development )

I don't mind the debate about intellectual property, etc. But, this free server was not affecting NCSoft in any way financially whatsoever except for the stated downloading of the client. They didn't 'lose' money from people defrauding them and not subscribing. People that play the free servers play not only because its free but because the xp and gold rates are usually increased 10 fold or more because Lineage 2 in its original form is a pile of crap and not worth paying to play for.

Re:don't use silly logical arguments (1)

shashi (56458) | more than 7 years ago | (#16934002)

( and how in the hell does 50k people playing a game on free servers effect the retail's customer support and product development )

For the same reason that pirated copies of Windows affect Microsoft's support costs. You'd be amazed how many idiots out there will use a pirated copy of software and then try to get technical support for it.

Even it's just to connect to a first-ring support operator to tell you to shove off for using an illegal copy, that's still wasted time for the CSR, utilization of the incoming phone lines, recordkeeping, possible investigation, etc., etc.

Re:don't use silly logical arguments (1)

Tweekster (949766) | more than 7 years ago | (#16954614)

You would be correct,

If microsoft provided technical support.

Their knowledge base doesnt cost more, it has a base price whether is supports 1 person or a billion (outside of bandwidth)

Re:don't use silly logical arguments (1)

TeraCo (410407) | more than 7 years ago | (#16970786)

Wow, that's a great way to win arguments.

If you exclude all the bits that don't support my viewpoint, my viewpoint is the correct one.

Re:don't use silly logical arguments (1)

C0R1D4N (970153) | more than 7 years ago | (#16939568)

This, like the bnetd situation boggles my mind. I'm paying $50 or whatever for an online game. I understand because it says on the box, that if I want to play said game on their servers that I need to pay them for the costs of running/operating said servers. If someone else out there wants to run one of them for free then the developers need to find ways to keep me wanting to play on their servers instead. And that really oughtn't be a hard thing to do. Take Everquest the original for example. There's Shards of Dalaya (I think that's what it's called) that is basically a free server. I tried it out, frankly I think they mangled the original Everquest pretty nastily, and there's still a lot of stuff that they can't/don't emulate on their servers (like Vah Shir). That's plenty of reason for me to stay on an official server (I honestly don't know what they have to offer that's better mind you, I switched to City of Heroes over two years ago). After the CD is in my possession it's MY game and I should be able to connect it to whatever server I want it to.

It's partially NCSoft's fault... (4, Interesting)

psychrono (1030230) | more than 7 years ago | (#16933900)

The reason being, and I know I'm not the only one that thinks this, is because NCSoft did NOT maintain their servers, with botters and hackers running rampant throughout their servers, even to this day and because of this, many of the 'legit' players left the retail servers for these private servers. I have played on a handful of private servers, and I was simply amazed how much effort these people put in to stop cheating, botting, etc. Sure, they weren't 100% successful, but if they can maintain a server of higher quality than a retail server (which costs to play monthly, whereas free servers accept donations, but are not required by any means), then that says something about the way NCSoft is maintaining their service, in my opinion anyways.

It's also worth noting that not just koreans play this game... there is a huge populace of spanish speaking, european, as well as north american people that play this game, especially on these 'indie' servers.

Re:It's partially NCSoft's fault... (1)

StikyPad (445176) | more than 7 years ago | (#16941096)

It's also worth noting that not just koreans play this game... there is a huge populace of spanish speaking, european, as well as north american people that play this game, especially on these 'indie' servers.

So, people all over the world of Korean ancestry play it too. Got it.
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