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Legal Analysis Critical of Blizzard v Bnetd 389

Posted by Hemos
from the how-to-look-at-it dept.
anewsome writes "As reported previously several times, Blizzard has sent a cease and desist letter to the ISP of bnetd (which develops an open source Battle.net emulator). Lawmeme.org (from the Yale Law School) has published a long piece with lots of background and legal analysis on the case. Conclusion: Blizzard has an uphill legal battle."
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Legal Analysis Critical of Blizzard v Bnetd

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  • Real URL (Score:2, Informative)

    by azaroth42 (458293)

    The Real URL for this story is:

    http://research.yale.edu/lawmeme/modules.php?name= News&file=article&sid=149

    --Azaroth (KW)

  • by Ben Jackson (30284) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @04:33PM (#3080394) Homepage
    The article [yale.edu].
  • The correct URL (Score:2, Informative)

    by bief (532369)
    The Correct URL [yale.edu]
  • Bnetd didn't reverse engineer any of Blizzard's software to create their server, so what right does Blizzard have to stop any of this? Sure you can make the case that bnetd allows software pirates to play their illegal copies of Blizzard's games more easily, but bnetd should be treated as a completely independent software developer.
  • by Gogl (125883) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @04:35PM (#3080421) Journal
    Don't get me wrong. I'm a huge fan of open source, bnetd, yada yada, and I agree that the official Bnet has tons of issues (ranging from lag to dealing with people whom I'd at least rather not deal with).

    However, to my understanding they're doing this largely as a reaction to the WC3 beta. It was cracked within days of release, using bnetd and other "fake" bnet networks that don't check cd keys. This is allowing many people who shouldn't be playing the beta to play the beta.

    "Big deal" you say. And part of me is inclined to agree, as it doesn't hurt Blizzard to have a few extra thousand people playing the beta.

    Well, I'm a beta tester, and I can tell you that the "official" beta network is sorely underused. Of the 5000 beta testers there are probably only 30-60 games going at any given time. I know, you might think that is a lot, but it's basically the same people over and over. From the buzz I've heard, a lot of legit beta testers have even been going to the bnetd networks, just because there are more people there (easier to find big 3v3 and 4v4 games, etc.).

    So yes, DMCA bad. Making reverse engineering bad. Open source good, bnetd good. But Blizzard still does have a point, and perhaps some sort of compromise needs to be reached...
    • If Blizzard sends me a beta disk, I'll use there servers! ;) Nice to know that they pased me up, and chose some yahoo who doesn't even use there servers.
      Note to self: WC3 was NOT properly beta tested, wait 3 months after release to buy.

      this post is supposed to be funny.
    • Absolutely. Blizzard need to make sure that they're not ripped off completely by people cracking the game.
      However, using the proverbial sledgehammer to crack the nut is not a very good solution.
      By wheeling out the laywers from the word go, they alienate the very developers who could actually think, and come up with some way to aid them in the future.
      Now, the cracked clients will stay cracked, and people will play the game.. Often at Lan parties and so on, so, killing bnetd doesn't stop the warez scene. It simply stops one aspect of gameplay.
      Now, actually getting heads together with Blizzard and the creators of Bnetd, I'm sure that some solution could be arrived at. Don't ask me what, I've not developeed for this, or looked too deeply.. But, usually when two sides get together and work, solutions arise.
      When you set two side against each other, you end up with a battlefield, with a lot of casualties, and nothing really progresses too much at the end of it.
      Both sides have valid points, and if they got together and hashed them out, I'm sure they'd both end up a lot happier than firing lawyers at each other, who don't actually understand the real problem at all..

      Malk
    • not really. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mikeee (137160) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @04:53PM (#3080575)
      If they allowed bnetd to pass-through authentication to battle.net, they might have a better point. They've specifically ruled that out. (Presumably because their crypto is lousy.)

      And it isn't the bnetd group that even enabled Warcraft III support.
      • It wouldnt matter (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Decado (207907) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @05:34PM (#3080875)

        Even if Blizzard did allow pass-through authentication to battle.net and even if the bnetd people did implement it one of the problems here is the Open Source nature of bnetd. It would be a trivial task for a lot of people to remove this authentication from bnetd so the problem still remains.

        Also implementing high level crypto for real time strategy games that you want to provide access to for free on servers would at the very least greatly increase the computing horsepower required by those servers (thats assuming that sort of real time high powered encryption is even possible). Blizzard wants to provide a free service to anyone who wants to play their games online, but they can only continue to do that while it is economically viable. Anything that increases the cost of this service will also have a knock on effect on its quality.

        Finally if you check the licence agreement that comes with your Blizzard games you will see:

        you are not entitled to:
        (iv) host or provide matchmaking services for the Program or emulate or redirect the communication protocols used by the Licensor in the network feature of the Program, though protocol emulation, tunneling, modifying or adding components to the Progran, use of a utility program or any other techniques now known or hereafter deceloped, for any purpose including, but not limited to network play over the Internet, network play utilising commercial or non-commercial gaming networks or as part of content aggregation networks withoug the Licensor prior written consent.

        Unless all the people involved in the bnetd project have never purchaesd and played a Blizzard game they are violating this licence agreement.

        But the really sad thing is that if Blizzard feel that the public beta is lending itself to piracy in such a manner that it is affecting sales then that will be the end of their public betas. I also find it really depressing that Blizzard have been unable to find a group of 5000 people to test, whom they have trusted with their beta versions and who have no doubt signed all sorts of non-disclosure agreements, but who are willing to abide by that and not release the games to warez sites. Regardless of what happens to the bnetd project I really hope that the people who released the warez versions of the WC3 beta feel the full strength of Blizzards laywers brought to bear on them.

        • by Kaa (21510)
          Finally if you check the licence agreement that comes with your Blizzard games you will see:

          you are not entitled to:
          (iv) host or provide matchmaking services for the Program or emulate or redirect the communication protocols used by the Licensor in the network feature of the Program, though protocol emulation, tunneling, modifying or adding components to the Progran, use of a utility program or any other techniques now known or hereafter deceloped, for any purpose including, but not limited to network play over the Internet, network play utilising commercial or non-commercial gaming networks or as part of content aggregation networks withoug the Licensor prior written consent.


          This is just wonderful. Let's see -- as an occasionally reasonable human being I have a NAT/firewall box sitting between the big bad 'net and my home machines. Now, part of the job of this box clearly is to redirect the communication protocols ... through any other techniques ... for any purpose.

          I guess I am in breach of the license. Oooh, what should I do? Multiple-choice quiz: (1) Destroy my Diablo CD and send a panicked letter to Blizzard begging forgiveness; (2) Chuck the NAT/firewall box; (3) Loudly say FUCK THAT SHIT.

          Hard choice, really.

        • Also implementing high level crypto for real time strategy games that you want to provide access to for free on servers would at the very least greatly increase the computing horsepower required by those servers (thats assuming that sort of real time high powered encryption is even possible). Blizzard wants to provide a free service to anyone who wants to play their games online, but they can only continue to do that while it is economically viable. Anything that increases the cost of this service will also have a knock on effect on its quality.

          Ok, you start out strong by saying that removing pass-through authentication would be easy, then you ruin your point with this paragraph. You don't need high level encryption for this. Simple SSL would be plenty secure. And how is verifying keys for other servers more expensive then both authentication and serving the game itself?

          As for being unable to find 5000 people who won't give their copy to warez sites, well, get real. All it takes is *one* person to give their copy to the warez sites. If Blizzard believed that out of 5000 people, not a single one would give away their copy, then they deserve all the piracy they're getting.

          Finally, I would be surprised if they're really all that concerned about piracy of their beta, regardless of what they may say publically. Most beta versions have lingering bugs, and frequently don't ship with all levels, and features of the final version. Asuming this is the case, a widely distributed beta will probably increase sales, rather then hurt them. I suspect that Blizzard's complaint originates more from the possibility to play the final versions more then the beta's.
        • If you don't live in one of the two UCITA states, then it is hardly a settled issue of whether the EULA is enforceable or not. The fact that most retailers won't accept a return if you don't agree to the EULA doesn't help their case either.

    • I agree with you as far as the beta goes, the people who hacked their beta clients so that they could play on WarForge should go back to battle.net.
      I was a beta tester for Diablo 2 and they really screwed us, the servers were down for long periods and overall it was a fairly crappy experience. However, as a beta tester you have to admit it's very cool being able to play a game before anyone else, they are doing you a favor to get a favor in return. It was beta testing after all, I don't blame them at all for taking the servers down for a day at a time to fix bugs because after all the testing they released a quality product. Not perfect, but way better then most.
      I know that bnetd will not get shut down forever because there are too many players that want it up. Either it will go more underground, or Blizzard will cave in and let people use it as well.
      This article makes it clear that bnetd is not violating any laws, it's marginally questionable that WarForge is.
    • If I were Blizzard, here's what I would have done:
      "Hi this is Blah Blah Blah from Blizzard, apparently people are using Bnetd to play pirated versions of Warcraft III. Is there any way that you guys could remove WC3 support from Bnetd? - I would hate this to have to be a legal issue. Tell you what, I'll give a free copy of WC3 for the dev team if you get it done quickly."

      While I can't predict what their response would have been, I'm guessing it would have been better than the current shithole that Blizzard has dug itself into...

      -dbc
    • they're doing this largely as a reaction to the WC3 beta. It was cracked within days of release, using bnetd

      Yes, this is their logic. And it is essentially flawed.

      bnetd does not allow you to play Wc3 beta, a hacked copy does.

      So what you have is Blizzard pissing all over the bnetd authors, when (if their reasoning was sound) they should be going after the guys who were doing the bnetd WC3 hack. (Which, if they'd done that, I'm sure everybody here would have supported.)

      Incidentally, I sent a letter to them, explaining this point, and all the others in their FAQ (which I EXPLICITLY stated I had read) and all I got back was their form letter telling me to read the FAQ.

      They lost me as a customer because of this.
      • Re:No, they don't (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Xerithane (13482)
        Wrong.

        If bnetd did not exist, then the hacked copies of WC3b would not be playable - bottom line.

        Blizzard is not pissing all over the bnetd authors either. Blizzard is protecting their interests in the best way their lawyers see fit. They could have been quite nasty with the bnetd authors, but I feel a mild C&D letter (even if it doesn't legally hold water, gets the point across) is well within reason.

        And, if you send an email (big difference between email and a letter, as well) to a support email address of course you will get a canned response. If you want real feedback, talk to their department that doesn't handle the bulk of their email.
        • wrong (Score:5, Insightful)

          by poemofatic (322501) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @06:52PM (#3081349)
          If bnetd did not exist, then the hacked copies of WC3b would not be playable - bottom line

          --online that is. And if RW-CD burners didn't exist, then WC3b couldn't be burned to them and passed around. And if phones didn't exist, people couldn't call up their friends and tell them how to get the w3cb...

          bnetd wasn't created to hack wc3b, and that's not it's primary purpose or use, so your point is moot.

        • Blizzard is protecting their interests in the best way their lawyers see fit.

          And apparently it's not a very good way, either Blizzards lawyers didn't do their homework at all, or they intended to bet from the start, that the bnetd authors never would take this to court. And while they could've tried to be quite nasty with the bnetd authors that would only have raised the stakes and given the bnetd authors given more reasons to fight it out (and maybe claim damages afterwards). Also it would've been bad PR (although most lawyer types don't seem to care). And i don't think it is "mild" to demand from someone to flush a big and well going project (and all the work that contributed to it) down the drain.

          But the main point is, that there's some possibilities to take before bringing out the lawyers. Apparently it's the century of the lawyer, as everyone and his dog tries to solve all his problems with them.
          --

  • by nexex (256614)
    Blizzard only has an uphill battle if bnetd chooses to fight their request. It states on bnetd's website "We have no choice but to comply until we can get some legal counsel to fight them." They be able to obtain counsel, then again, they might not...
  • by Loki_1929 (550940) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @04:38PM (#3080453) Journal
    Sorry, I missed the first 37 posts of the working URL, anyone have it handy?
  • by jazman_777 (44742) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @04:45PM (#3080511) Homepage
    If only to serve as obstacles to other lawyers.
  • by Hormonal (304038) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @04:47PM (#3080524) Homepage
    The last line of the article cracked me up. Blizzard has an uphill legal battle.

    I'm making an assumption here, but I don't think the guys running the bnetd project don't have piles of money to take this thing to court. The ISP isn't going to burn tons of cash for these guys, and ignore Blizzard.

    It's unfortunate that a company with deep pockets and a shaky legal footing can shut down projects it doesn't agree with. I used to play DII like a fiend, but got sick of the cheating/tradehacks/etc., so I don't have anything to gain from this project. I do, however, think it's a real shame that a nice project like this is getting squeezed. I hope the bnetd team can weather the storm.

    I also wonder if maybe Blizzard's time and energies might be put to better use by focusing on things like Realm stability, and getting rid of the cheaters that are bringing the realms down, looking for the next duping method.

      • I'm making an assumption here, but I don't think the guys running the bnetd project don't have piles of money to take this thing to court

      Not an un-nice double negative. Perhaps you could go over to bnetd.org [bnetd.org] and actually find out? I'll make the, er, assumption that you and most other Slashdotters are too lazy to even click a link, and that you need to be spoon fed the salient comments:

      • "This site has been disabled as requested by Blizzard Entertainment and it will remain closed as we have no legal recourse other than to fight a long protracted lawsuit against a large corporation [...] We have no choice but to comply until we can get some legal counsel to fight them. We are very sorry for the inconvenience but there is nothing we can do at this point. If you know of any lawyers who would be willing to take this case on a pro-bono case, please forward their information to us"
    • Free speech cases are the biggest candidates for pro bono work. That Bnetd is getting attention on Lawmeme is only a good thing -- it means that the legal community is interested.

      Who knows, maybe these guys can get some pro bono, or cheap legal help. You never know...
      • Whilst its true that Free Speech is the most popular for Pro bono there is NO way in hell you could ever cast this as a free speech case, its not. The question will hinge on whether the software infringes blizzard copyrights or circumvents legal anti copying or access control measures to facilitate use of a hacked or copied version of the software. Getting around copy protection is not the spirit or the letter of free speech - its violation of copyright or theft of intellectual property (whatever your politcal beliefs the law is the law) if getting around

        Theres no free speech angle in it - Blizzard spent the money to develop a product with a reasonable expectation of security, they provide the servers and bandwith for the BattleNet system and they have an expectation that people using this system will have paid for the software. To attempt to prevent piracy (albeit not very succesfully if Diablo and Starcraft are any example) they use a CD key system.

        The BNETD developers designed software that circumventes this by 'ignoring' the cd key and thus it breaks the protection. (note it did this for older blizzard releases - thus blizzard could possibly prove they have a case WITHOUT WC3)

        Whether the person who modified the system or not is reponsible the unfortunate fact if that bnetd as the original developer of the product will be the first ones toe get sued as their software allowed modification (a good lawyer can argue that it encouraged it) to circumvent the copy protection system and allow illegal use of the clients IP.

        In short i wouldnt waste a cent of my money in a lawsuit if i was bnetd - i would find a way to modify my software to block blizzard products and pray that my software doesnt allow any circumvention of other companies copy protection (i bet it does).

        I like bnetd, its interesting software, but it can and has been used to get around the protection on blizzards software and it is very easy to prove, ultimately Blizzard will win and wasting piles of money defending what many will see as the indefensible is plain insane.

        PS i read tim's letter on this and i would point out that anyone here who gets worked up about the talk about lawyers being agressive and yelling has never dealt with lawyers before - this is what they get paid for.

        Open source does not mean break any and all copyrights - and the downside of collective development is that when something like this happens the courts are going to go after the most identifiable person they can get their hands on - and in most cases that will be the original developer.

        Want to avoid this happening to you ? get a lwayer or IP expert to review your license agreement to ensure you are covered. Sure it costs money but then again so does getting sued.
        • Blizzard spent the money to develop a product with a reasonable expectation of security, they provide the servers and bandwith for the BattleNet system and they have an expectation that people using this system will have paid for the software. To attempt to prevent piracy (albeit not very succesfully if Diablo and Starcraft are any example) they use a CD key system.

          You have it backwards. bnetd does not allow you to use battle.net servers with a cracked copy. bnetd allows you to use software that you bought without going through battle.net. It also allows you to use software that you didn't buy, but there's a substantial non-infringing use.
          • Nope it allows you to circumvent the EULA and use non blizzard servers - the fact that it is extensible to enable cheating and circumvention of security measures is what has got these guys in trouble.

            Bnetd allows you to use cracked version in that it specifically ignores the CD key section and allows the establishment of servers outside the legal system blizzard setup - i've used battle net in the past and will do again and the only reason i can see to want to go around it is to use cracked or tampered with software.

            We never need to lose sight of the fact that this company spent many millions developing software to make a return on that investment, they setup the systems and infrastructure to support it and all they ask is that you use their system to play online.

            I dont disagree with bnetd - its good software and likely written from the best of intentions and maybe blizzard should sit down and see if they cannot use this software in a good way - BUT that would mean closed source beacuse the fact is that whether it was in the spirit of the design of the software (i can't say it was or wasn't) to allow the circumvention of CD keys, it certainly was in the means of the software to make it easy to modify to do it and thats the problem blizzard has with it.

            As to the non infringing use - there is none - read the license you agreed to when you bought the software - it doesnt have a loophole in it to allow you to set up your own server, thus any attempt to do it is infringement and thats the case im sure blizzard will present in court.
  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @04:48PM (#3080540)
    Between Vivendi and Jack Valenti, it seems that things with names that begin with the letter V are out to get us...
  • is getting someone to support it against Blizard.
    Unless the EFF or a major player steps in, its not like anything is going to happen. With so many copies of bnetd out there, its not like it is a major issue, but hey.

    By the way, don't bother with wc3, the game sucks dick for bus fare and then walks ;) Nice graphics and all, but the gameplay is piss poor.

    Anyone else feel that support@bliz sounds like a bot if you mention bnetd? Try sending the peeps a legit question and somewhere mention bnetd and see if you get a response to your question or the canned Piracy FAQ response.
    lamerize "bnetd" and then send more emails to support . . .
    • EFF & bnetd (Score:5, Informative)

      by nyet (19118) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @05:02PM (#3080638) Homepage
      Paste, from here [bnetd.org]

      Ok not many of you may know, but I am the host and admin for the bnetd.org
      server. I am also an ISP and the one who hosts the server here at no cost to
      anyone. I also have been known from time to time to help with development and
      ideas on the bnetd server, but I am not even close to one of the main
      developers. I have also been know from time to time to hack on the web pages for
      the site as well.

      I have talked with the lawyers at EFF. They are interested in taking on the
      case, both for us as a small local/rural ISP and to help defend the developers
      as well. So for now the web site is sort of closed down to keep Vivendi/Blizzard
      lawyers from suing us as a small ISP and to help prevent them from suing each of
      the developers. They could still sue both of us, and say that they will at least
      sue the developers and owners of the website (which I guess would techincally be
      me personally).

      I and I believe most of the developers plan on fighting this as much as we can
      given the support that we are able to get from EFF and others. It remains to be
      seen what kind of legal advice we get in the next few days and up comming week
      as to when the site will return. The site was taken down in its current form by
      concensus amoung all the developers that could be reached at the given time that
      action was required. I, as an ISP, did not force anyone to do anything. As an
      ISP I plan to fight this as much as I can, as a developer (the little developing
      that I have done) plan to fight this as well.

      I plan to fight this and return the site back to its "normal state" (whatever
      that may be), it is just a question of when and how long at this point.

      Vivendi/Blizzard's main complaint, as was voice to me in an hour long call with
      them yelling and threating me, the ISP to hurry and take it down "why do you
      need to wait and figure all this out?" was that the bnetd program/server does
      not impliment the online CD-KEY checking and thus allowed pirate copies to play
      online, and that the true battle.net server have this code as an anti-piracy
      protection. Since bnetd doesn't have this feature, it was circumventing the
      piracy/copy protection and thus was in violation of the DMCA. It was at this
      point that Vivendi/Blizzard just wanted me, the ISP, to shut the whole site
      down, not remove the offending files but shut the whole site down or risk having
      them sue me along with the "owners" of bnetd.org. They were very unhappy that I
      want to talk with a lawyer to see what my options were, and said if they didn't
      hear back from me by the next day one way or they other they would start
      proceedings to sue me and the "owners" of bnetd.org who were refusing to respond
      to their messages. Now who they were contacting as the "owner" of bnetd.org is
      beyond me, and the lawyers were unable to tell me who they tried to contact and
      said "its beside the point anyway", which happens to seem to be their favorite
      phrase.

      If you want to support this fight, I suggest you email Blizzard and Vivendi
      letting them know how displeased you are that they didn't even contact us first
      or try to work anything out, but rather just hammered us with legal threats and
      the DMCA. I also suggest that you get an EFF membership to help them fight cases
      like this. If you want to donate to a defense fund for our court costs I would
      assume that you could contact EFF and they could work something out.

      If you have any other questions let me know. I will try to answer them as best I
      can.

      Tim Jung
      System Admin
      Internet Gateway Inc.


      • Re:EFF & bnetd (Score:4, Interesting)

        by wrinkledshirt (228541) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @05:34PM (#3080878) Homepage
        I suggest you email Blizzard and Vivendi
        letting them know how displeased you are that they didn't even contact us first
        or try to work anything out, but rather just hammered us with legal threats and
        the DMCA.


        I tried this. I sent an email to the sales dept telling them how they lost me as a customer because of what they were doing with the DMCA to a project that was basically started in good faith.

        I received this:

        ----------------
        Hello.

        Certain programs have been developed that allow users to bypass Battle.net's
        CD-key-authentication process. Although these programs might have been made
        with good intentions, they directly promote software piracy by allowing
        users who have illegitimately obtained our games to play them as if they'd
        been legitimately purchased. Furthermore, because these programs allow
        access without a CD key, they render malicious users unaccountable, thereby
        eliminating Blizzard's ability to protect legitimate consumers. Therefore,
        Blizzard has taken an aggressive stance opposing the use of these programs.

        Please take a moment to read through our FAQ regarding these issues at
        http://www.battle.net/support/emulationfaq.sht ml if you have any questions
        or concerns about Blizzard's stance on software piracy.

        {WR655}

        Thank you for your email,
        Kenny Z.
        Technical Support
        Blizzard Entertainment
        PS. If you plan to reply to this message, please include all previous
        messages between us.

        --------------

        I assume this is word-for-word what other people would have received if they've sent in a similar complaint. Something tells me that giving me Kenny Z. is Blizzard's way of saying "screw off". I sent a response that basically reiterated my position and made a suggestion about how the two projects could work in harmony, and even mentioned how much of Half-Life's popularity had to do with Valve embracing the developer community instead of slapping the CS boys with "cease and desist"s. Blizzard didn't bother replying.

        I'm not sure what else to do at this point. I'm not going to buy their games because of this, but I'm way outnumbered by those who will. Hopefully the EFF can make a major stink about this and either win the case, or better yet, learn to work the mainstream media so that Blizzard gets a bunch of bad press because of it.
  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@ovi. c o m> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @04:57PM (#3080603) Homepage
    If i BUY Blizzard , i should be able to play it ANY way i want .. it's mine .. i purchased it.

    Is every one here really thinking that all those funny EULA statements are really legal ..... No ... they are not legal until a judge says they are.

    So companies can put whatever they want in a EULA , and it does not mean u have to follow them or even look at them ... without a court order .. they are just .......... some trash that a company makes to intimidate u.

    How far have we gone .. thinking that you have to obay corperate babble as if it were law
    • Is every one here really thinking that all those funny EULA statements are really legal ..... No ... they are not legal until a judge says they are.

      I always thought they were legal. What is your basis for the statement? Is it like saying you're innocent until proven guilty? For example I can commit a crime but in actuality I am innocent of the crime until found guilty by a jury of my peers?

      I'm not trying to troll here. I just want to know where you got this from. If this is true then I'm going to set up a booth at the flea market and sell enterprise software at half price. (like that will be a big seller)

      • I always thought they were legal. What is your basis for the statement?


        Several reasons, here's what I find the two most compelling (and IANAL, although I have seen several episodes of The Practice):

        - EULAs claim that in exchange for removing your rights (fair use, reverse engineering, resale, etc) you are "granted" the right to run the software. This is meaningless because copyright law already allows the owner of a piece of software to make whatever copies (e.g. to hard drive or RAM) are essential to running it. Thus, you get no consideration and the "contract" is void.

        - Somewhat more metaphysical: I read the EULA and decide I don't want to agree to it. But I click the OK button because that's the only way to install the software. Blizzard would claim that clicking OK means I agreed to the EULA, but the only thing that backs up their claim is the EULA itself, which I did *not* agree to. I believe somebody else summarized this as "it's my software, I can lie to it if I want to".


        If this is true then I'm going to set up a booth at the flea market and sell enterprise software at half price.


        Go right ahead, but only if you bought the software legally (which means you're unlikely to profit). Even if EULAs are invalid, copyright law still applies, so you can't go around duplicating CDs and selling them any more than you can photocopy and sell the pages of a book. Software publishers like to conflate EULAs and copyright, implying that they need EULAs to protect themselves from piracy, but that's completely false.

        • It makes sense to me but I would have thought someone by now someone would have challenged a EULA in the past.

          Other multiplayer games I am familiar with have banned people for EULA violations. Sony is really good at doing it for Everquest. They will ban people for emulating servers or even something as minor as running a hack that allows you to play EQ in a window so you can do other things with your PC (like play MP3's). While Joe Sixpack can't fight them in a big court surely small claims court would be a viable option for getting your $39.95 back (plus pain and suffering over losing your hard earned gear) since they are taking away your ability to play the game.

          A EULA has got to be worth something more to the software publisher than an extra mouse click.

          • You're getting EULA and terms of service confused. Sony is banning people for violating terms of service. They are not, however, taking you to court for violation of your EULA. You are still free to use your EQ software, but Sony is not letting you access their servers.

            In the realm of EULAs, there was a case recently (reported on /.) where someone successfully challenged the unbundling clause in an EULA (a box came with 2 cds, he split them up and resold one of them, in violation of his EULA), though I believe the decision is being appealled.

            So the parent was correct, so far as I know, restrictive EULAs have not been successfully used to prosecute anyone in court.

        • Are you daft? It's been proven time and again that by installing software by clicking through a EULA means you agreed to it. While you may not in spirit agree to it you're contractually bound to the terms set forth by the license. You merely bought the media, the actual content is licenced (buying a piece of paper with a copyrighted work printed on it doesn't mean you've bought the rights to that work) and you either agree to the license or can't install it. You'd have a shit fest if I released modified versions of GPL software without the source for the modifications yet you seem to think a software company can't obligate you to the terms of a license even though you went ahead and subscribed with the agreement. I think you are daft.
          • You merely bought the media, the actual content is licenced (buying a piece of paper with a copyrighted work printed on it doesn't mean you've bought the rights to that work) and you either agree to the license or can't install it.


            Wrong. I don't need the publisher's permission to use the software any way I want to, including clicking on the "OK" button when I really don't agree. (What if I used a hex editor or other tool to swap the "OK" and "Cancel" buttons before running the installer?) Holding a copyright on a work does not grant the power to control all use of that work, only the ability to duplicate it (i.e. the *right* to *copy*).


            You'd have a shit fest if I released modified versions of GPL software without the source


            That would be copyright violation. The GPL is simply a statement that you are allowed to redistribute the software (normally not permitted by copyright law) provided you fulfill certain conditions. It's what you would use as a defense against coypright infringement, in which case you would have to show that you complied with its terms. EULAs, on the other hand, are statements (with no legal force IMO) that claim that you may not engage in activities that are *not* illegal under copyright law.


            you seem to think a software company can't obligate you to the terms of a license even though you went ahead and subscribed with the agreement


            EULAs are completely separate from the terms of an ongoing service. I don't dispute that Blizzard can kick people off battle.net for TOS violations (or for pretty much any reason they want).

            • What do you think a EULA is if not a statement pertaining to the redistribution of software? An EULA is a contract saying you will abide by the terms of the licensing agreement of the software, just like the installation of GPL software is a tacit agreement to the license. Look up tacit agreements in a law dictionary, the EULA is your subsciption to the terms of the software's license. Clicking OK means you agree to its terms. If you use a hex editor to switch around the OK and Cancel buttons you gain no legal protection from a EULA. That is just a bad faith agreement (which is a no no) just as clicking through (thus accepting) the terms of the EULA and proceding to violate them. Subscribing to the terms of a contract in bad faith will get you little but the disdain of the courts.
          • If i downloaded a tetris clone, and in the EULA (required for installation) it claimed that by installing this software I:

            A. Must driver no faster then 10mph, except in school zones, where i must drive at least 60mph.
            B. Must name my first child 'Tim', even if its a girl
            B. Can not use the software for more then 30 seconds, and if i find a bug in the software within those 30 seconds i must strip off all my clothes and run around the street five times yelling 'my pants are missing!'

            These of course are unreasonable, and illegal in some cases, so i doubt a judge would find this EULA legal.

            I think (not sure, IANAL) that EULA will be upheld if they are within reason, do not break other laws and relate to the software's fair use.

            -Jon

          • You merely bought the media, the actual content is licenced (buying a piece of paper with a copyrighted work printed on it doesn't mean you've bought the rights to that work)

            But buying a piece of paper with a copyrighted work printed on it does grant you fair use rights [cornell.edu] and first sale rights [cornell.edu] in your copy of the work, and for computer software, such rights include the right to copy the software into RAM and to make backups [cornell.edu]. However, if a contract presented before the sale specifies that instead of buying a copy, you are perpetually renting one, then you are not "the owner of a copy," and none of this applies [arentfox.com]. Also, none of this applies outside the United States.

  • by geddes (533463) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @04:59PM (#3080620)
    I don't think you can say Blizzard faces an "uphill battle" even if they are on dubious legal ground, they have the funding, and the bnetd people will have a hard time coming up with funding to pay for a long legal battle, especially since there is no profit motive for anyone on the bnetd team to stick a neck out and fight this thing. I can think of another company that is also on EXTREMELY dubious legal ground, but managed to win. They are called Microsoft, and they, with thier superiour funding just trenched in until the political climate suited them better. I hate to compare Microsoft to Blizzard but in this case they are sort of in the same position - dubious legal ground, but superior funding and legal resources. :-( - Geddes
  • by alexhmit01 (104757) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @05:00PM (#3080626)
    This is one of the most anticipated titles in years. I've been looking foward to WC3 since WC2, considering what a jump WC2 was over WC1.

    All these people playing the beta versions cracked are still going to buy the game? Who knows.

    I feel that Blizzard, by providing great games for years, has earned the right to not have people floating around cracked copies of their games. We all wants WC3. I'm willing to wait.

    If that means harassing some people with questionable lawsuits to stall for their software, so be it. I feel that we worry too much on Slashdot about legalisms and not enough about common decency.

    If you love Blizzard games, show some respect and let them launch their games as they desire. They haven't disappointed yet.

    Realize that the early demos of Star Craft were seen as WC in space and were hated. Blizzard rewrote the game in the next year and put out a game that people loved.

    Had Warez kiddies put out those early Star Craft demos, then when the game was released it might have bombed because people had played a crappy game with the same name a year earlier.

    Ripping off a company that puts out products you love is poor form.

    Alex
    • You can't legislate respect. If Blizard is bringing the hammer down on bnetd, odds are it will just create ill will among the people who would buy the product anyway. Crackers will crack, but attacking bnetd might be like throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
    • by The Darkness (33231) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @05:22PM (#3080790) Homepage
      I feel that Blizzard, by providing great games for years, has earned the right to not have people floating around cracked copies of their games. We all wants WC3. I'm willing to wait.

      So how, exactly, will shutting down the main bnetd site keep cracked copies of their games from being distributed? I seem to recall that there are many no-cd cracks (even some that let you play on battle.net) for Diablo II and its expansion pack.

      If that means harassing some people with questionable lawsuits to stall for their software, so be it. I feel that we worry too much on Slashdot about legalisms and not enough about common decency.

      Common decency should apply to Blizzard also. Is it considered common decency to threaten loyal gamers who created a tool so they could play without connecting to the cheater-ridden, laggy, and resetting battle.net?

      Besides, do you really think that all of the beta testers who already have bnetd are going to go play it on battle.net? They already have it! Maybe Blizzard should have contacted the authors of bnetd and said "Hey, here's how you can detect the WC3 beta, can you have the server pop up a request to go play on battle.net?" or even have it not allow WC3beta to play. Sure, it wouldn't catch everyone, but at least they would have a reminder that they are supposed to be testing the game on battle.net so Blizzard can improve the game. Maybe even the warez kiddies who copied/cracked it would load battle.net a little more and give them a scaled test..

      Ripping off a company that puts out products you love is poor form.

      Pissing off most of your existing customer base by getting rid of a useful and legal product because of a product you haven't released yet (and those pissed off customers won't buy) is in poor form.

      Of course, this argument implies that the same people griping about how horrible shutting down bnetd is now won't turn around and say "Ohh! New Shiny!" when WC3 is actually released..


      • Pissing off most of your existing customer base by getting rid of a useful and legal product because of a product you haven't released yet (and those pissed off customers won't buy) is in poor form.


        I'm going to take an excerpt from the WC3 beta EULA I have here (yes, I know this is of dubious legal value and EULAs are evil monsters at /., but it is nonetheless theoretically something agreed to. FWIW, this is the same license that came with D2 and SC, etc).

        Responsibilities of Beta Tester

        C. You are entitled to use the program for your own use, but you are not entitled to:

        (I) sell, auction or grant a security interest in or transfer reproductions of the Program to other parties in any way, nor to rent, lease or license the Program to others without the prior written consent of Blizzard; and

        (II) exploit the Program or any of its parts for any commercial purpose including, but not limited to, use at a cyber cafe, computer gaming center or any other location-based site without the prior written consent of Blizzard; and

        (III) host or provide matchmaking services for the Program or emulate or redirect the communications protocols used by Blizzard in the network feature of the Program, through protocol emulation, tunneling, modifying or adding components to the Program, use of a utility program or any other techniques now known or hereafter developed, for any purpose including, but not limited to network play over the Internet, network play utilizing commercial or non-commercial gaming networks or as part of content aggregation networks without prior written consent of Blizzard; ...
      • The problem is that Blizzard's going after the wrong guys. The bnetd authors have deliberately not built WC3 support into their software. However, some beta tester leaked their copy. (boohoo for Blizzard, they didn't build in ways to detect who leaked what) And some warez kiddies, deciding that they wanted to play multiplayer, hacked bnetd to support the beta.

        Now Blizzard's just lashing out at the originators, not catching on that these guys have nothing to do with their problem.

    • Had Warez kiddies put out those early Star Craft demos, then when the game was released it might have bombed because people had played a crappy game with the same name a year earlier.

      Horse shit. Look at Daikatana. That game had the buzz. Pre-release news that I saw about it was nothing but exciting. Then the reality hit. And people saw how it stank.

      If a game is good, it will do well on its own merits. If it's not good, word will get out. If a preview of SC was crap, but the final game rocked, sales would be through the roof, despite the leaked copies. There would be enough people who (a)didn't see the crap preview or (b)bought the game anyways to spread the word about how great it was. Then of course, there would be the gaming sites. I don't put too much stock in their opinion, but some gamers do. If the final release of SC was hot, it would get great reviews. And has. And sales are through the roof.

      Litigating against some of your greatest fans is poor form.
    • Realize that the early demos of Star Craft were seen as WC in space and were hated. Blizzard rewrote the game in the next year and put out a game that people loved.

      "I am not an Orc!"
      "This is not WarCraft in space!"
      "It's ... much more sophisticated!"
      "I know it's not 3-D!"
      --Artanis, Protoss hero unit

    • by Phanatic1a (413374) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @05:40PM (#3080910)
      If you love Blizzard games, show some respect and let them launch their games as they desire.

      This is so backwards.

      I like Blizzard games. I've purchased and enjoyed them since Warcraft.

      But I love my rights. I love your rights, and those of the bnetd developers. Anyone who values Blizzard software more than our rights under the law and constitution of the US, or your respective country, has some seriously skewed priorities.

      You're saying that if I like Blizzard's games, I should be willing to forgive a little legal threatening, some innocent trampling of my rights.

      I say the reverse: Because of Blizzard's actions here, I won't be buying any more of their games, enojoyable though they may be.
      • This whole case has made me rather saddened with how people are willling to give up their rights.

        First argument I get from Blizzard fanboys is "it's illegal!". Too much respect for the law. MAYBE it's illegal, under the DMCA. Crappy laws should be disobeyed.

        Blizzard has also apparently sent these types of notices to people who develop cheats for their games or develop chat bots for their Battle.Net servers. Now I hate cheating, but I don't see giving up the right to free speech as an acceptable way to try and stop it. Apparently a lot of these Blizzard fanboys do. As for the bots, apparently a lot of people use them in an annoying way. So we should throw away our rights because they might let people annoy us. Blizzard is welcome to try and stop emulated servers, cheats, and bots through technical means (and they should), but the programmers shouldn't be called criminals because of a program they wrote.

        What seems a sad part to me often is the fact that Blizzard owes a lot of their popularity to the Multiplayer success of Warcraft 2. If you wanted to play Warcraft 2 on the Internet, you used a third-party program "Kali", which emulated the protocol used by Warcraft and provided a matchmaking server. So basically, Blizzard wouldn't be where they are today without an earlier program quite similar to BNETD and FSGS.

        Tim
      • Amen man, I have been an avid Blizzard fan for years, but their recent bad attitude toward anything not Blizzard, and their shaky EULA's of questionable legality. And now this, I won't be letting Blizzard have any more of my hard earned money.

        I may own, Warcraft, Warcraft 2 (and bnet edition), Starcraft, and Diablo II, but don't hold your breathe waiting for me to fork even 5 bucks over for W3.

        besides, I think Warcraft 3 looks a little dumb.
  • by Suppafly (179830) <slashdot@supp[ ]y.net ['afl' in gap]> on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @05:18PM (#3080759)
    Conclusion: Blizzard has an uphill legal battle

    How so? No matter how much you want to estow the virtues of open source yada yada, blizzard will probably win.. hell they probably won't even have to go to court to win.. the bnetd guys will probably appologize and settle out of court just to keep from losing millions of dollars trying to fight this.

    Conclusion: Money talks. Period.
  • This would be the most interesting point if it could be contested in Court. The claim made here is that by ignoring the CD-Key authentication request BNET is NOT subject to the circumvation clause?

    One has to wonder, to bypass is to ignore is it not? Doesn't the "emulator" specifically just change the system to not expect a response? How is that "ignoring" ? To me that is an active bypass.

    While I like the idea of emulators, this article twists words as well as any lawyer would. Amazing I did not see an argument over *is*
    • Who released this patch that changes one byte though? I didn't see that on the BNETd site, because it never was. Until modified by Warforge, BNETd didn't even work with WCIII
    • Just because some lawyer doesn't know what an emulator is doesn't mean you should go around repeating him. It's a piece of interoperable software man, there's no emulation involved. The one byte crack is certainly circumvention, but that's not bnet, that's Warforge, and as for ignoring the CD-KEY, what else could they possibly do? They dont have the algorithm to authenticate it. Personally I'm against the whole thing. The only reason bnet is/was a successful open source project is because it is largely trivial. If they sat down and tried to write their own game the project would have blown appart (or stagnated significantly like the Freecraft project - which anyone who has actually used the game and not just read the Sourceforge stats will tell you is the case).
  • If you read the article, you get to him asking if, by ignoring the CD Key, they violate the DMCA.


    This is made clear by the definition of circumvention in 1201(a)(3)(B), which "means to descramble a scrambled work, to decrypt an encrypted work, or otherwise to avoid, bypass, remove, deactivate, or impair a technological measure, without the authority of the copyright owner." Bnetd does not descramble, decrypt, remove or deactivate anything. It does not avoid, bypass or impair, it ignores. Ignoring is not circumventing.


    Now, tell me, how is ignoring the key not avoiding or bypassing it? He even mentions that they had to go and modify the DLL that comes with WC3 to enable it to skip the CD check. Isn't that deactivating it, or removing it? Most of the article seems solid, but when it comes down to compliance with the DMCA (I'm not saying the DMCA is good, I'm just going off what's law right now), it seems to fail, badly.

  • Generally, 'legal analysis' implies that there is some...well, legal analysis. This article from Yale has none. It is just a statement of portions of the DMCA and the author's opinion on how the courts should find.

    Phrases such as "to my knowledge" have no place in a 'legal analysis'. It either is, or it isn't. If you don't know for sure, you look it up and quote the source.

    My favorite portion of the 'analysis' was at the end:

    Furthermore, under section 1201(f)(2): Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections (a)(2) and (b), a person may develop and employ technological means to circumvent a technological measure, or to circumvent protection afforded by a technological measure ... for the purpose of enabling interoperability of an independently created computer program with other programs, if such means are necessary to achieve such interoperability, to the extent that doing so does not constitute infringement under this title. It seems pretty clear that even if bnetd is a circumvention device, then it clearly falls under the exemption of 1201(f)(2), since any circumvention is only for the purpose of achieving interoperability between bnetd and the Blizzard game.

    This 'analyst' conveniently omits a reference to 1201(f)(1) (which requires the circumventor have a legally obtained copy of the circumvented program). Additionally, 1201(f)(2) clearly states that the circumvention program falls under the exception if it is necessary to achieve such interoperability.

    This does not mean that it falls under the exception if it can be used for interoperability, it means that there must be no other means.

  • This is about the umptieth story about "IP vs. warez" this week, and it's only Wednesday.

    Is there any hope for a solution here? Any hope for a compromise? Or is it going to be a constant yammering match between thousands of lawyers waving motions and C&D letters in the air on one side and thousands of |337 \/\/4R3zzzz d00dz waving keygen programs and blank CDRs in the air on the other?

    Surely by now we've realized that the "all content must be stricty controlled and monitored 24-hours a day by DRM/DMCA/SSSCA/*AA position is no more or no less untenable than the "I'll NEVER EVER EVER pay for anything, especially a web site, or anything digital, and I will vigorously rip/copy/distribute every CDROM/DVD/download/movie/song/album/game I can find for the express purpose of celebrating the fact that I didn't have to pay for it, and then laugh as company after company (read: employer after employer) files chapter 11 because everything they have invested in has become totally worthless with a few clicks.... and everything sux anyway, except Everquest."

    Is there any position a business can take that will allow them to avoid being cast as a "greed-driven corporate machine?" Just how much do they have to give away, and at what point can they say, "ok, here's your trainload of free stuff, now *this* we'd really like you to buy?"

    SOMEONE HAS TO PAY THE BILLS. Businesses that sell things *employ* people too.

    I agree that businesses by and large have not lived up to their end of the responsibility bargain. Business is given huge latitude and opportunity, and they should exchange good products and jobs for that. That's the responsible thing to do.

    There must be a balance here, and if/when a new agreed-upon balance requires that some products be paid for, the responsible thing for customers to do is to meet their side of the bargain and pay for the product. It is no more fair for customers to play bait-and-switch than it is for a business.

    New products are developed, usually at some non-trivial level of risk, on the implied promise that if they are of sufficient quality (usually the result of VERY hard work), then customers will buy the product, allowing the business to earn back their costs plus a profit.

    But there WILL BE NO NEW PRODUCTS if businesses hear "HA HA!! I'm going use it anyway and not pay!! nyyahhh nyahhh nyahhhhhhhh!!!" often enough. There will be no way to make even a moderate business model work.

    I think there are sufficient ideas among developers to find a better balance. Instead of spending time repeating "all copy protection can be defeated" over and over, how about a little time spent helping find that balance?

    Just a thought or two.

  • I don't have a 4800X4000 res screen.
    I realize it's a bug, but damn it has been
    affecting slashdot for MONTHS now. Fix it!

    Mod me down, but don't mod me as offtopic.
    It's not offtopic because it's affecting
    this story.
  • by wls (95790) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @06:11PM (#3081130) Homepage
    Okay, maybe it can be approached this way:

    Suppose you have a software package, and the CD KEY is used to allow you to install the software. Presumably, it takes some encrypted form and mutates it into a useful version. Alternately, such a code might be used to alter program logic to affect software behavior -- whatever. The point here is that the CD KEY is a protection mechanism at the client end.

    Like the rest of the /. majority, I too find the DCMA an example of knee-jerk legislation produced by the uninformed and easily lobbied. But in this, suppose you even agree with it...

    According to Tim Jung's post the gripe expressed was that the bnetd.org server does not do CD KEY checking. My point -- it shouldn't have to.

    It appears that the design of this product is such that invalid CD KEY prevents people from stealing battle.net server resources. Apparently, that is working; good for Blizzard.

    As I understand it, people aren't forging false CD KEYs and inappropriately using battle.net server's resources -- doing so would make the case more plausible. Yet in this case, it would an individual service hijacking player who should be the focus of legal attention.

    So what was designed and built by Blizzard is something that actually says "show me your receipt and I'll let you use our systems." Rather than forge CD KEYs to do something illegal like steal Blizzard's service, the user community has provided their own resources, built their own software, and opted not to check for a "receipt" to use those services. Technically, it's not duplicated Blizzard's server then either, since it's a subset.

    True, this does let people try an approximation. However, it isn't the actual golden master -- by definition it's build with low confidence, and possibly broken with missing features. Blizzard wasn't passing out free copies of a production game, it passed out something else with the expectations of comments.

    About the only real complaint Blizzard has is that they aren't getting as much beta feedback as they could had they expanded the beta base. However, if Blizzard's servers are locked out via a CD KEY except to only a few, then they weren't going after that data because they wouldn't be getting that data anyhow -- so there's no loss, other than potential they forgot to go after. That was a business mistake.

    Blizzard's true error then is not designing the software to require something only their servers could provide.

    However, I can tell you as a software consumer, if I purchase a product that depends on someone's website being up and around, I get jittery about them going out of business or no longer supporting it and wouldn't make the purchase.

    I suspect if Blizzard kindly asked for it, anonymous beta testers would happily provide feedback. Feedback that would make the game much better, improving overall sales. Blizzard actually has a very positive opportunity here, if they can get past the shortsightedness.

    • As I understand it, people aren't forging false CD KEYs and inappropriately using battle.net server's resources -- doing so would make the case more plausible. Yet in this case, it would an individual service hijacking player who should be the focus of legal attention.

      The problem for Blizzard is (from what I understood from the original article) with bnetd Blizzard has no way of expiring their betas. Currently, the way I understand it, when the WC3 beta is over, BattleNet will stop letting the beta keys on the servers thus forcing the beta testers (and those who got a copy from a friend) to buy WC3 to keep playing. With bnetd in place these people can continue to play the game for free and Blizzard loses revenue.

      Maybe Blizzard should take this as a wakeup call and fix the problems with BattleNet that have caused people to write their own servers. Or possibly in future games provide players with the ability to host their own servers.

  • All the talk about DMCA and fair use and everything else is a very good thing but i think missing a very important point, what happened to old fashioned right and wrong ?

    I mean beacuse the bnetd developers developed an open source product and then someone els modified it then they and the owner of the copyright product they are using to circumvent it is in the wrong and the poor guys from bnetd are in the right.

    The fact is blizzard spent the money, many millions of dollars in fact, to develop a product and they have a right to ensure their intellectual property, copyrights and investment are protected. They own the intellectual property to the product and thus they can and will take action to protect it.

    The information on this case thus far presented doesnt seem to be asking for anything exceptional, and i dont see them going after the bnetd guys for every cent they have, so why the outcry?

    This is a pitfall of open source, that a product you develop MAY be modified in a way that you did not intend and then used for a reason you did not forsee. This is fine and in most cases a good thing BUT like everything we do in life it has consequences and crying about it is not going to solve the issue - sitting down like proffesionals and talking to blizzard would be a good first step (one i suspect they are in the process of doing)

    And my final comment is this - all of you out there riding the white horse of Anti DMCA and Anti Big Company - Tell me

    is it right to take someone elses property and use it without paying ?
    is it right to ignore licenses and other agreements because you 'dont care for them' ?
    Is it right to damage a companies profits and endanger jobs for people ? people with families to feed ?
    Is it right to defend anyone who comes along and finds a way around 'iritating things' like security?

    If you answer yes to these then i thing you have bigger problems that you can ever imagine - youre abetting criminals and its hard to morally accept one form of it and reject another.

    i was disgusted with open source over Skylarov and now i dont know what to think - it seems that the concept or right and wrong no longer means anything to so many of you.
    • Is it right to damage a companies profits and endanger jobs for people ? people with families to feed?

      The automobile damaged the profits of all the companies who made horse-drawn buggies and raised the horses to draw them, and damaged all the companies who made horseshoes and buggy-whips and all the other things you need if you're going to have a horse-drawn carriage. The automobile basically put the horse-drawn carriage out of business. Should Henry Ford, then, have been enjoined to not start up the Ford Motor Company and produce his cars, because it would damage existing companies and existing jobs?

      Of course not. Just damage isn't the issue. Just because Blizzard started battle.net doesn't give them any legal or moral right to shut down competition. Their rights are limited to:

      1. Preventing anyone from copying their server software (developing your own compatible software without copying theirs is perfectly OK).
      2. Preventing anyone from distributing copies of their game software, modified or not (modifying a copy of a game you own falls under fair use, just like making notes in a copy of a book you own).
      I can't see where bnetd has done anything that falls under those two. I can see where Blizzard may be annoyed that people are sidestepping their attempts to time-limit the beta, but it's not bnetd's responsibility to enforce Blizzard's rules. I hope Blizzard gets smacked on this one when it goes to court.
      • Actually i dont disagree with your comment but the fact is this is not a case of a competitive product its a case of a tool that can be used to illegally use a product developed by a company. These guys didnt set up a company to develop a new product or improve a new product, they set out to find a way around a part of the user agreement with a company they didnt agree with whether it was legal or not.

        Most of us just gloss over the EULA but maybe we should read it and we might find out that you dont have the right unless explicitly stated to modify another companies software to suit yourself UNLESS it is open sourced which blizzard software is not.

        there rights are not limited to any of the above as to do 1 you need to find a way to capture and re direct their data stream and circumvent their systems and in the case of 2 fair use does not apply to this case as you specifically agree not to do it in the EULA which is a license awarded to you to use a product. Whether you agree with that or not you cannot claim modification is fair use.

        Their legal rights under the law also include
        Logos, fonts, copyright, look and feel, music, characters and many other things.

        bnetd designed a tool that could be used to break the software or cause it to perform in a way not designed and thus circumvent the agreed usage of the product - trust me if Blizzard takes this to court they will win comfortably on the evidence and facts.
    • by Kwil (53679) on Wednesday February 27, 2002 @08:37PM (#3081783)
      All the talk about DMCA and fair use and everything else is a very good thing but i think missing a very important point, what happened to old fashioned right and wrong ?

      Nobody's ignoring right and wrong..
      The bnetd folks haven't done anything wrong.
      The beta-cheaters are doing wrong with their use of bnetd.
      Blizzard is doing wrong to bnetd because of the beta-cheaters.

      What we need is some way to cut out the middle-man. Let Blizzard go after the beta-cheaters directly and not stomp on the bnetd guys. After all, they're about as much at fault for this as a crowbar manufacturer is for someone breaking into a house using that crowbar.

      is it right to take someone elses property and use it without paying ?
      Absolutely not. But is bnetd taking Battle.net away from Blizzard? The only thing they could be argued taking is a number of the users, and last I checked, people are nobody's property.

      is it right to ignore licenses and other agreements because you 'dont care for them' ?
      Absolutely not. They should never be ignored. However ignorance, lack of a real 'agreement', and civil disobedience are all different things. The key to remember is that if you engage in civil disobedience, you'd best be prepared for the consequences, and if you think there's a lack of a real agreement, you'd best be prepared to defend that position.

      Is it right to damage a companies profits and endanger jobs for people ? people with families to feed ?
      Morality has no connection to a company's profits. I as a human being have absolutely no responsibility to support a company. In fact, if a company is engaged in immoral acts, it is my moral obligation to help stop them, and the employees moral obligation to help stop the practices, or quit and help stop the company.

      Is it right to defend anyone who comes along and finds a way around 'iritating things' like security?
      Finding a way around security is not an immoral act, so yes, it is right to defend a moral person who has done so - especially if they are then made targets of immoral acts, such as the harrassment, or suppression of expression.
    • Some light reading for your naive ideas of IP and morality....


      If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That
      ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition,seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property. Society may give an exclusive right to the profits arising from them, as an encouragement to men to pursue ideas which may produce utility, but this may or may not be done, according to the will and convenience of the society, without claim or complaint from any body. Accordingly, it is a fact, as far as I am informed, that England was, until we copied her, the only country on earth which ever, by a general law, gave a legal right to the exclusive use of an idea. In some other countries it is sometimes done, in a great case, and by a special and personal act, but, generally speaking, other nations have thought that these monopolies produce more embarrassment than advantage to society; and it may be observed that the nations which refuse monopolies of invention, are as fruitful as England in new and useful devices.

      - Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Isaac McPherson, August 13, 1813

      There has grown in the minds of certain groups in this country the idea
      that just because a man or corporation has made a profit out of the public
      for a number of years, the government and the courts are charged with
      guaranteeing such a profit in the future, even in the face of changing
      circumstances and contrary to public interest. This strange doctrine
      is supported by neither statute or common law. Neither corporations or
      individuals have the right to come into court and ask that the clock of
      history be stopped, or turned back.


      - Robert A. Heinlein, "Life Line"

      "Is The Net At Fault For Illegal Filesharing?"

      In a word: YES!

      The internet is "disruptive technology". Previously publishers
      added economic value to the stream of commerce that flows from authors
      and artists to consumers. Suddenly, nearly all creative works can be
      represented in a digital form (usually with higher quality to boot),
      reproduced at virtually no cost, and distributed at virtually no cost.

      The entire business model of most publishers is now non-value added
      waste. The market knows it, the people know it, and the publishers even
      know it.

      Unfortunately, our form of government is not geared to be responsive
      to the public or the market. Free markets and the public demand the
      elimination of waste, but our form of government is optimized to achieve
      a different goal: to create a regulatory paradigm where Congress grants
      regulatory favors to those who are able to contribute the funds needed
      to assure the reelection of the people in the system.

      Our legislators have gone through a vigorous natural selection
      process that ensures they truly believe it is important to ignore
      the wishes of the people, indeed even the rights of the people, so
      as to perpetuate the unnatural power base of a cartel created not by
      competition, but by regulation even after the very service that it
      provides can be accomplished on demand by any 10 year old with no out
      of pocket expense.

      The internet was designed precisely to acheive what it does acheive:
      a radically better way to distribute files. People should see this for
      what it is and also dispel any feelings of guilt they have for using
      it to its fullest capabilities to destroy those industries that survive
      only by misuse of government to protect revenue streams based on turning
      waste into value based on corrupt regulation.

      In fact, EVEN IF a few poor starving millionare artists have to
      suffer unfairly to achieve it, I recommend that people feel no guilt
      about sharing files instead of feeding the cartels. It is far better to
      kill a little skin burning off the leach than to allow it to feed off
      of you unchecked.


      -
      bwt, from /. [slashdot.org]


  • I think the real problem here is Vivendi/Blizzard's knee-jerk reaction to threaten to sue the bnetd folks into oblivion. Why not just pick up the phone and call them? Maybe talk it out, rather then fight it in the courts? This situation reminds me of the old saying, that if all you have is a hammer than every problem starts to look like a nail. Maybe if you have too many lawyers then every situation starts to look like a legal problem... If Vivendi/Blizzard had done even a little thinking beforehand, instead of whipping out the lawyers as their first salvo, they might have avoided the unfortunate publicity this controversy is generating. They might have reached an amicable solution for everyone. Now, that's a remote possibility at best.

    As soon as you start by threatening with attorney's there's only two possible outcomes; you scare off your opposition and they concede or you guarantee that the only solution to the problem will come months or years later and that it will come from a judge's bench. In a way, using lawyers is like starting a war with atomic weapons: Great if you can win immediately, not so good if you can't. And purposeless if you could have gotten what you wanted with a few phone calls instead. The corporate world is increasingly using this tactic of threatening first and talking later and I can't help but believe that it will ultimately generate nothing but animosity and ill-will in the for them. When will someone wake up?

    Truthfully, if you look at the issue impartially, I think that Vivendi/Blizzard do have some real concerns. They've invested several years and millions of dollars in developing their products and frankly, I doubt they really know what effect bnetd will have on the Blizzard franchise or their ability to make a profit from it. Let's face it, they're scared and rightfully so. Wouldn't you be in their place? It's hard to know what to do with an unknown and easy to desire to rollback the clock so you don't have to deal with yet another unknown variable. Instead of condemning Vivendi/Blizzard, we should convince them to sit down with the community and figure out together what to do with the emulation projects. Hell, there might even be some profit opportunities! Who knows? I can't say much for Vivendi but Blizzard has a reputation of working with their customers (anyone that was around for the WarCraft II days and Kali support will remember) and it's certainly a better approach then a protracted legal battle.

    I can't help but think how ironic it is that Vivendi/Blizzard and their customers are about to enter a legal battle over this 'Battle.net' situation. Maybe we should all stop acting like the characters in the games and start acting like reasonable human beings.

    Zug zug! And that's all I'm saying on the issue.

  • I think it is simply ludicrus to say that it should be taken down because it could be used for illegal purposes (like playing the warez game online). I COULD use a fork to kill someone, so should we go and remove all forks everywhere? No.
  • is it just me, or.. (Score:2, Informative)

    by MassacrE (763)
    Blizzard really should have known this was coming. All of their games have huge buzz (as opposed to hype) surrounding them, and always with good reason. They knew there was a server out there that emulated their existing server, and they knew people would try to crack the wc3 beta to distribute it.

    so.. why the hell did they not do anything about this technically? They could have easily changed part of the protocol, had wc3 use a version two of battle.net. Work _with_ bnetd to make sure it is not emulated within days. Perhaps use public key cryptography to distribute the key to unlock code present on the disk (or even perhaps code itself - they could have sent a single floppy per user as an unlock key if this is not feasable for size restrictions).

    Even if they do not use such copy protections in the release, its still the old rule - if you do not allow consumers a way to get something they desire, they will find a way anyways. Being that they don't want this to happen (as it is a beta and not a release, they are testing instead of selling) - they should have taken extra precautions.

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