A story at the BBC takes a look at the use of private game servers for games that tend not to allow them. While most gamers are happy to let companies like Blizzard and NCSoft administer the servers that host their MMORPGs, others want different rules, a cheaper way to play, or the technical challenge of setting up their own. A South African player called Hendrick put up his own WoW server because the game "wasn't available in the country at the time." A 21-year-old Swede created a server called Epilogue, which "had strict codes of conduct and rules, as well as a high degree of customized content (such as new currency, methods of earning experience, the ability to construct buildings and hire non-player characters, plus 'permanent' player death) unavailable in the retail version of the game." The game companies make an effort to quash these servers when they can, though it's frequently more trouble that it's worth. An NCSoft representative referenced the "growing menace" of IP theft, and a Blizzard spokesperson said,"We also have a responsibility to our players to ensure the integrity and reliability of their World of Warcraft gaming experience and that responsibility compels us to protect our rights."
Last month we discussed news that Microsoft had banned hundreds of thousands of Xbox users for using modified consoles. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has now pointed to this round of bans as a prime example of the power given to providers of online services through 'Terms of Service' and other usage agreements. "No matter how much we rely on them to get on with our everyday lives, access to online services — like email, social networking sites, and (wait for it) online gaming — can never be guaranteed. ... he who writes the TOS makes the rules, and when it comes to enforcing them, the service provider often behaves as though it is also the judge, jury and executioner. ... While the mass ban provides a useful illustration of their danger, these terms can be found in nearly all TOS agreements for all kinds of services. There have been virtually no legal challenges to these kinds of arbitrary termination clauses, but we imagine this will be a growth area for lawyers."
An anonymous reader writes "Nintendo is investigating potential copyright infringement by Nokia during some video demos of their N900 phone, which can be seen emulating Nintendo games. Nintendo spokesman Robert Saunders says: 'We take rigorous steps to protect our IP and our legal team will examine this to determine if any infringement has taken place.' In the video, Nokia says, 'Most publishers allow individual title usage, provided that the user is in possession of the original title.'"