You’ve probably heard by now, the legal battle between Blizzard and MDY over WoWGlider is over with the judgement falling to Blizzard
For those of us who are sick and tired of getting gold spam tells, or seeing bot’s grinding away in our favorite leveling places, this does appear to be good news. It does however set a legal precedent about how I can use my computer, and that does make me somewhat uneasy.
While I don’t condone cheating, and that includes using bot’s to either make it easier to level or harvest gold, there are a couple of things I don’t like about this judgement.
- It’s my computer and I’ll use it as I want to. If Blizzard want to install a Warden or other monitoring software and cancel accounts if I cheat, fine I have no problem with that. (Well, maybe I would if I were a cheater.) But I do have a problem if they sue me for it. Remember that Warden supposedly checks for certain websites too. Would you like to be sued for visiting MDY’s website just because you were curious?
- A big part of Blizzards argument wasn’t about copyright or EULA infringement, but about facilitating that infringement. They complained that WoWGlider was making it faster for players to level and thus reducing the possible subscriptions. Does that mean websites that provide information to help players level faster will be next on the lawyer hit list; how about the leveling guides?
- Some of the argument went along the lines that the copyright infringement occurred when the client program was copied into memory. Of course it was. Every program, since they started storing software on media (paper tape, punch cards, core memory) is copied into memory — that’s the only way it can work. Do we really want to give companies the power to sue us for copyright infringement if we are simply using the program as designed, perhaps because we offended them in some way?
I believe that legal precedents that remove consumer rights are not necessarily a good thing. While some of the situations I mentioned above are fairly unlikely to happen… at this time, the erosion of rights nearly always happens slowly and with good reason.
Today we applaud the decision by a court to punish cheaters. Will the same court tomorrow punish guide makers or bloggers who happen to criticize a game against the terms of the EULA?