Blizzard Sues Bot Maker For Copyright Infringement
Blizzard Entertainment is taking a stand against popular cheating bots for World of Warcraft, Diablo 3 and Heroes of the Storm. The game company is suing the alleged operator(s) of a series of popular bots for copyright infringement and accuses them of ruining the gaming experience for legitimate players.
Over the years video game developer and publisher Blizzard Entertainment has released many popular game titles.
However, to the disappointment of the developer and the majority of its customers there exists a small subgroup of players who are happy to deceive their opponents to get an edge in Blizzard’s games. Through hacks and cheats these players are often able to dominate the competition with minimal effort.
In an attempt to stamp out this type of abuse Blizzard has now filed a lawsuit against James Enright (aka “Apoc”) and several unnamed defendants who are allegedly behind a popular series of gaming bots. Enright’s software allows users to cheat in World of Warcraft, Diablo and Heroes of Storm, among others.
In a complaint filed at a California federal court, Blizzard notes that the “HonorBuddy,” “DemonBuddy” and “StormBuddy” bots infringe on its copyrights. In addition, the bots ruin the fun for other players, which causes financial damage to the company.
“The Bots created by Enright and his team have caused, and are continuing to cause, massive harm to Blizzard. Blizzard’s business depends upon its games being enjoyable and balanced for players of all skill levels,” the complaint (pdf) reads.
“The Bots that Enright has programmed and helps distribute destroy the integrity of the Blizzard Games, alienating and frustrating legitimate players, and diverting revenue from Blizzard to Defendants,” they add.
Blizzard believes that the bots cause legitimate players to lose interest, costing the company millions in lost revenue. The bot maker, meanwhile, is generating a significant profit.
“As a result of Enright’s conduct, Blizzard has lost millions or tens of millions of dollars in revenue and in consumer goodwill. Meanwhile, Enright and his team have been massively and unjustly enriched at Blizzard’s expense,” Blizzard adds.
Blizzard believes that Enright may have made millions through the bot sales, which start at €24.98 ($27) for the most basic World of Warcraft version.
The WoW Honorbot
Aside from breach of contract, by violating the EULA which prohibits the use of bots and cheats, Enright and his team are accused of copyright infringement.
“Defendants have infringed, and are continuing to infringe, Blizzard’s copyrights by reproducing, adapting, distributing, and/or authorizing others to reproduce, adapt, and distribute copyrighted elements of the Blizzard Games without authorization,” Blizzard writes.
Blizzard asks the court to issue an order against the defendants to prevent them from distributing the software. In addition, they demand actual or statutory damages for the alleged copyright infringements, which could add up to tens of millions of dollars.
The company’s claimed losses are supported by research which has shown that WoW bots can create a massive amount of in-game gold, which raises the prices of items for legitimate users. These users may then lose their motivation and stop playing, hurting Blizzard’s revenue.
At the time of writing the Buddy Forum and the associated website remain operational, claiming that “botting is not against any law.”
Update: Zwetan Letschew, CEO of Bossland GmbH, informs TorrentFreak that his company owns and operates the software Blizzard mentions in the lawsuit.
“Apoc is neither the owner nor the creator of Honorbuddy, Demonbuddy and Stormbuddy. The trademarks belong to Bossland GmbH, the software belongs to Bossland GmbH, a German company created by two shareholders in 2009.”
“Apoc is not a shareholder or a decision giver at Bossland GmbH, Apoc is not even an employee of Bossland GmbH.”
“I find it funny, no not even funny, but ridiculous for a company of this size, to go after and mention publicly people, that are at best random freelancers, keeping in mind that they sued the creator of the software in question in Germany.”
In addition, Letschew refers to an expert opinion which show that Honorbuddy does not harm WOW or Blizzard.
Blizzard Nukes Popular HTML5 Version of StarCraft Game
Blizzard has taken down a browser-based version of the classic game StarCraft, citing multiple copyright infringements. The game and dozens of forks were hosted on GitHub for less than a month. The developer said he created the HTML5 game because he loves Blizzard and StarCraft, but the feeling clearly isn't mutual.
Browser-based copies of popular games, both new and old, have become quite popular over the years.
The problem is that the use of trademarked names and copyrighted images generally isn’t accepted by large game companies such as Nintendo and Blizzard, who see it as direct competition.
Developer “Ryuta” has just learned this the hard way after his HTML5 version of StarCraft was pulled offline. Ryuta hosted the game on GitHub and actively promoted it on Hacker News last month.
While his work was praised, several commenters pointed out that its success would be short-lived because of the apparent copyright issues.
“The Blizzard legal team will come knocking on your door very soon. If I were you and if you’re serious about continuing working on this, I would take this down immediately..,” one warned.
“I recommend you to remove all proprietary Blizzard graphics from GitHub and possibly just recreate the repository without it,” said another.
The warnings were not in vain. A few days ago Blizzard’s copyright protection partner Irdeto urged GitHub to remove the repository, as well as the 50 forks that were created from it.
“This repository is a blatant, direct, literal copy of the StarCraft software and is disturbing [sic] source code and artwork assets owned by Blizzard without permission,” they write.
Fast forward and Blizzard indeed managed to take down the repository.
The developer doesn’t think he’ll be able to get the files back on GitHub, but he is not giving up on the game just yet.
“It will be difficult to get my files back on GitHub, but I plan to continue developing the project and host it on my own site,” he explains.
Ryuta has no plans to monetize the browser game. He’s just a fan and simply created it because he loves Blizzard and StarCraft, and wanted to play it in the browser.
For now, however, play time has ended until the project is revived somewhere else.
emNet is back!
JoYkiLLaH has announced that emNet is officially back and better than before. It's already shaping up with a lot of familiar faces coming online and chatting with everyone.
I've gone ahead and updated the server list on BNETDocs with the updated servers. There are now 4 different servers:
- cali.emwar.com (San Francisco, CA)
- dallas.emwar.com (Dallas, TX)
- kc.emwar.com (Kansas City, MO)
- ny.emwar.com (New York City, NY)
The servers each talk to each other and emulate Battle.net sync, server splits and all.
I've heard word that the Dallas server is the main hub where they each connect and that it is also where the MySQL database is at.
News has been turned on
I've very nearly completed the news integration with this new BNETDocs code. I've gone ahead and hooked it up to the database as you can now plainly see.
Feel free to explore the new UI and content. The news categories still need to be integrated, as you can see there is no such mention of any categorization here at all. I'd also like to see pagination in the future but that's not on the roadmap for now.
Still to come:
- Documents & Packets
- News categories (this would fix OpenGraph not having an image to display)
- User login, registration, and profile viewing
- Server viewing (although a slimmed down version of this can be found here)
- Smaller cosmetic features
Missing pages added
The missing pages everywhere on this site have been created with the content of not yet implemented. Building out these pages will take some time, but they will at least no longer show up as 404 Not Found.
And yes, this project is still getting some life put into it, just in the background scenes that aren't very visible to the end user such as yourself.