Gamers Get Busted: 3 Starcraft II Players Sued For Selling Cheat Programs - Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal
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Gamers Get Busted: 3 Starcraft II Players Sued For Selling Cheat Programs

Gamers Get Busted: 3 Starcraft II Players Sued For Selling Cheat Programs

Blizzard Entertainment, maker of various popular computer games, filed suit in the Central District of California recently against three users who made and sold “hacks” to their latest creation, Starcraft II.  The lawsuit was filed shortly after Blizzard banned at least 5,000 gamers from the game in mid-September for using such programs.  The hacks at issue are essentially fancier cheat codes that allow users to gain an advantage in the game.  However, unlike authorized cheat codes created by the manufacturer, “[w]hen users of the Hacks download, install, and use the Hacks, they copy StarCraft II copyrighted content into their computer’s RAM in excess of the scope of their limited license, as set forth in the [End User License Agreement] and [Terms of Use], and create derivative works of StarCraft II.”  In addition to copyright infringement theories, Blizzard argues that the cheat codes are harmful because they cause irreparable harm to the experience of legitimate gamers, limiting the future sales of “add on packs” due to dissatisfaction.  The hacks may also cause a physical problem as well, inducing stability and performance issues on the servers that host actual game play.

Blizzard has been successful in a previous lawsuit on a similar theory of liability.  In 2006 it won a 6 million dollar judgment against the creator of a hack for its game, World of Warcraft.  The facts, however, were slightly different; World of Warcraft users pay a monthly subscription fee to play the game online where Starcraft II does not require subscription fee. Given that difference it will be interesting to see how damages are calculated if Blizzard wins the lawsuit.  Blizzard aim’s to recover any and all profits made from the sale of these programs (beyond that they are asking for an undisclosed amount).

Christian Levis