First Rule Of World Of Warcraft: You Don't Talk About World Of Warcraft

from the say-what? dept

Gregory A. Beck from Public Citizen Litigation Group writes "Public Citizen Litigation Group has just filed a lawsuit against Blizzard, Vivendi Universal Games (Blizzard's parent company), and the Entertainment Software Association on behalf of a small eBay seller. Our client (the eBay seller) wrote an unofficial gaming guide to World of Warcraft called "The Ultimate World of Warcraft Gold & Leveling Guide." After he began selling an electronic version of his guide on eBay, Blizzard, Vivendi, and the Entertainment Software Association began repeatedly invoking the notice and takedown provisions of section 512 of the DMCA to have the eBay auctions terminated on the grounds that the guide infringed Blizzard's copyright. Our client filed a DMCA counternotice and, because the companies did not respond within the fourteen days required by statute, eBay reinstated the auctions. But even after that, the companies continued to file notices of claimed infringement, ignoring the prior counternotice, until the seller's eBay account was suspended. In addition, Vivendi's lawyer has threatened to sue if he continues selling his guide.

Vivendi's position is apparently that merely writing about their game infringes their copyright even if the author incorporates none of the company's text or storyline. Although the e-book does contain a limited number of screen shots to explain combat techniques, this is well within the bounds of fair use. If Vivendi is correct, then selling a how-to book about Microsoft Word would infringe Microsoft's copyright, especially if the book contained one or more screenshots of Word's user interface. We think this cannot be the law. Big companies often use the DMCA and eBay's "Verified Rights Owner" -- or "VeRO" -- program to harass small sellers of competing products. With the hundreds of thousands of notices of claimed infringement it receives, eBay is not capable of examining the merits of each individual claim. As a result, eBay terminates targeted auctions without question and small sellers who can't afford to defend themselves are left without recourse. Even a DMCA counternotice is ineffectual if a company can simply ignore it and continue terminating auctions at will."



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 11:27am

    Republican National Committee memo:

    "small business owners have not donated enough money to the RNC to warrant consideration. Until such time as donations meet a reasonable level, the RNC will continue to treat small and medium-sized businesses with the same disregard it has for consumers."

     

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    Zeroth404, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 11:48am

    The man did not sell anything produced by blizzard, thus there is no coyright infringment. How can you infringe COPYright terms if you didn't COPY anything?

    Jesus. I just lost a lot of respect for Blizzard and Vivendi.

     

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      mee, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 6:01pm

      Re: actually..

      He posted images from the game, and of course information ABOUT the game. Names/places/things, those all belong to Blizzard. I don't think he invented "Shadowcraft Armour" or "Azshara"

      I also don't think he created those images of onyxia...

       

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    Tan The Man, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 12:28pm

    Hmmm...

    I'm more inclined to blame Vivendi more than Blizzard.

     

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    Justin, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 12:45pm

    the seller could have avoided the problem if he simply called it the "unofficial" or "unauthorized" guide

     

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      brian kopp, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 6:18pm

      Re:

      no i couldn't the title had nothing to do with the take downs. imo they used a search bot to auto remove auctions on set terms. no matter what i nammed it the guide was taken down. yes i am brian kopp who this PR is about.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 12:47pm

    I wish they hadn't suspended his account. I want that guide. heh. But i don't think Viv can hold any ground in court. I don't see what they are mad about anyway. How does this guide hurt Viv in any way? ZOMG! This player is t3h uber!!! BAN BAN BAN!!!!

    ... I think not. If i got banned from being good at WoW (which won't happen because I'm awful) I think it would simply be time to go play another game.

     

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    orcish warlock, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Hmmm...

    I'd like to blame Vivendi more than Blizzard, because I like Blizzard games....
    But the article does say "Blizzard, Vivendi, and the Entertainment Software Association began repeatedly invoking the notice and takedown provisions ..."

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 12:51pm

    OMFG - talk about *anal*. So - I would go buy ***** ** ******** but since I can't type it - or say it (afterall, even saying it is a violation of DMCA, right).

    I guess I'll skip and find another game!!!

    LOL, this is just plain STUPID.

    So that means - each time someone posts on their forums and uses the game name - they should sue them too!!!

    and I'm with you I used to have a TON of respect for Blizzard, but now I have NONE.

    Asses.

     

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    Jason, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 12:54pm

    vivendi getting to be like sony?

    nothing like being number one to make you wanna start throwing rocks at your customers. Vivendi better watch it before some WoW killer comes along and it gives WoW users an excuse to give the middle finger to vivendi and go elswhere. probably already happening.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 1:03pm

    The reason that they are trying to prevent guides like this to be produced and sold is because they explain and show techniques to farm gold on the servers. From there a lot of this gold gets sold on online sites. Blizzards has banned a lot of people for buying and selling gold like this, as you agree not too in the EULA.

    The result of guides like this result in a large amount of gold suddenly appearing on the servers, disruting the economies on them, which will probably end in people cancelling their accounts, something blizzard and vivendi are going to fight tooth and nail. So whats the easiest way for them to prevent this from starting in the first place? Stop guides like this one from being made and sold.

    Bringing the DMCA into play is a pretty bad move on their part, but is by far the quickest and easiest move for them.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 1:41pm

      Re:

      There is no correlation between this guide and gold selling sites. I can understand you distaste for gold sellers and buyers but let's make credible arguments.

      Following your logic, Vivendi and Blizzard should take down websites that contains any information about the game because it could be used to show people how to farm gold on the servers. Which, of course, everyone sells online for cash. Forums are particular nasty too. Who knows what gold making method they'll come up with next.


      Assuming the guide isn't full of exploits, what's the problem? It probably goes into detail of legitimate ways to play the game. Are people not supposed to get gold the most efficient way if they want? And if these methods are putting too much gold into the economy, Blizzard will go in and tweak things. Guides don't ruin the economy.

      Now selling these guides for money, well, that's another story we'll see played out.

       

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    perry, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 1:12pm

    everyquest owns joo all...


    ps. get a real mmorpg game

     

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      james, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 1:15pm

      Re: haa yeah

      I totally agree blizzard is a kiddy company making a kiddy mmorpg...

      ps. your wicked ways have been revealed...repent or feel the wraith or everquestttttt...cough pew pah

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 1:20pm

        Re: Re: haa yeah

        Hey. Go grind some more. Because that's all EQ is.

         

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        Old Bear, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 1:42pm

        Re: Re: haa yeah

        Do people still play EQ? Kind of like dusting off the old Atari for a round of Ms. Pacman, huh?

        Blizzard has some strict rules in their EULA - if you agree to them (need to to play) then they can hold you to them. Makes sense to me, but I'm not a lawyer - just some dumb consumer.

         

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          A. Lloyd Flanagan, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 1:51pm

          Re: Re: Re: haa yeah

          Been to EverQuest lately? They've come up out with a bunch of add-ons and upgrades. It's not the same game it was a year ago even.
          You'd have thought they'd put all their effort into making EQ II playable, but apparently not. Not that I'm complaining.

           

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    Beat Murmann, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 1:14pm

    lacking general culture and common sense in US cou

    ...maybe, future US judges should be forced to prove their knowledge in general culture and in their application of common sense before their sworn in. The system should reward the usefulness of a case's solution for society with a massive (salary) bonus for the judge in charge. Otherwise, US legal cases and their results (as well as consquences) will more than ever be colportated as amusing anectotes about a strange country's even more bizarre legal system during cocktail parties all around the globe...

     

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    Kaikarot21, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 1:15pm

    Copywright Infringment?

    I don't think that this qualifies as copywright infringment. Although this is a problem that a lot of companies have once they get popular, and it always leads to the companies downfall. It happened to Atari in the 80's, and Nintendo in the 90's, companies think they are happy and safe and stop caring about their customers and then BOOM, suddenly they don't have customers anymore... Blizzard and Vivendi had better recognize this soon, if something like this gets out in a major area that lots of people see, they stand to lose a lot more customers than server inflation would cause. People would see this as injustice, that's what I see it as, and the 10 comments before me seem to agree. People don't like injustice... it pisses them off...

     

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    Paul, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 1:28pm

    ya everyone knows that no kids play EQ...

     

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    VPR, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 1:38pm

    Using images would be pushing it...really far.

    If that's the case, then perhaps they should start surfing the net and slamming webmasters for using their images on sites.

    http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=world+of+warcraft&btnG=Google+Search

    Wow, about 59,400,000 hits! Their lawers will be busy!

     

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    [Rx2] Ano?, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 1:39pm

    Infringers!!

    "How can you infringe COPYright terms if you didn't COPY anything?"

    i really dont know... i shot a video of Camile Valesco (the one from american idol) back in 2002, it was a quick smile and pretty random, out at the Maui iHop. anyways i posted the video I PERSONALLY took, and i got an email from YouTUBE.com saying that the video was removed because American Idol said i was Copyright Infringing!! WTF! i shot the video WAY before she was even on American Idol! they are the copyright infringers!!!!

    so its true. even if we arent infringing, they push us around.

     

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    Dylan Johnston, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 1:44pm

    Vivendi, Sue me.

    World of Warcraft is a game.

    - oh no i didn't. yes i did. i wrote about it.

     

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    Marc J King, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 2:00pm

    I actually purchased this guide a couple months ago, and found that it contained exactly what I was looking for; great tips for new players, yet no exploits. I really see no reason why Vivendi would have a problem with this, why not go after all those pay sites that DO "sell" exploits.

     

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    Jason, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 2:06pm

    WOW Copyright Infringement by TECH DIRT.

    Wait, you just let us post a thread with World of War Craft in it. Now you have infringed upon their copyright. Are they going to sue you and shut you down now.

    HMMMM.... I wonder. The guy should sell an address envelope and postage to all of people who want it, and when you buy the envelop, he includes a copy of the WOW Guide Free of Charge.

     

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    JP Muzz, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 2:07pm

    Smoke Screen

    Its all a Smoke Screen, while they can't hold ground in court they can keep getting him BANNED from eBay. What they are couting on is that he (the eBay seller) will run out of money befor it gets to court. Its wrong on alot of levels and the really sad thing is this is the most any of us can do to combat this unfair treatment.

     

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    identicon
    JP Muzz, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 2:07pm

    Smoke Screen

    Its all a Smoke Screen, while they can't hold ground in court they can keep getting him BANNED from eBay. What they are couting on is that he (the eBay seller) will run out of money befor it gets to court. Its wrong on alot of levels and the really sad thing is this is the most any of us can do to combat this unfair treatment.

     

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    John B, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 2:56pm

    Tactic

    Yeah, it’s ironic that we hear big companies complaining about frivolous lawsuits and they are really the main culprits (although there are consumers who use frivolous suits to pay their bills). Big companies know that they have deeper pockets than consumers (and corporate lawyers already on their payroll) and they count on these kinds of cases never getting heard out by a court and jury. Ironically, this tactic is most effective against people who really aren’t trying to make money of such things. It’s effective two ways: (1) the people don’t have much of a dog in this fight, since they aren’t making money off the guides and (2) even if the guy giving away the guides wins in court, he isn’t going to get much, because he wasn’t making anything off of selling the guides. Now, the people and companies who ARE making money off of this kind of thing might put up a fight (if they’re making enough money). I haven’t heard about Vivendo going after any of THEM! Wait a sec…maybe that’s the bug in Vivendi’s pants! Maybe THEY want to make money off of How-to guides and they can’t compete with this lone guy who gives the info away! Pretty sad, eh? I know I won’t buy any Vivendi products anymore, if I can help it.

     

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    Chris, Mar 24th, 2006 @ 4:51pm

    I played WoW for about 6 months.

    I use to play WoW daily (quit about 8 months ago), but got very tired of their poor customer service and unprofessional tone. Prior to WoW, I was one of their most loyal patrons, having been a Blizzard customer since the advent of Warcraft 2, then Warcraft 2 expansion, then Diablo 1, then Starcraft, then Diablo 2, then Diablo 2 expansion, and finally WoW (the last game I will ever purchase from Blizzard).

     

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    brian kopp, Mar 25th, 2006 @ 10:49am

    thanks for the support

    thanks for the support from most of you. I did make good sales on ebay with the guide especially when my feedback got up there. 215 feedbacks mostly from the guide.
    When I started talking to my lawyer I had no intentions in my mind i'd get any relief from it I just wanted to sell my guides on ebay.
    Just let this be a lesson that you can't let the bully pick on you forever.

     

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    Stupidlawsuits, Mar 25th, 2006 @ 2:00pm

    I hate these people

    Just to give a **** you to "aboutitworld" who claims to have filed this lawsuit. Thanks for suing a company that has brought fun to millions of people. Can't wait to see your baseless lawsuit fail

     

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    Zeroth404, Mar 26th, 2006 @ 7:17am

    "i shot a video of Camile Valesco ... i posted the video I PERSONALLY took, and i got an email from YouTUBE.com saying that the video was ... Copyright Infringing ..."

    Your case would hold up in court, I'm sure of it. You didn't copy anything, there are no anti-video laws (though recording audio without prior concent is illegal) and these people weren't worried about it enough to contact you formally because they're bullshitting you -- not to mention they don't know what "copyright" means.

    Just tell them to buzz off, or you'll see them in court. Maybe you'll get lucky like the judge who made some guy pay the FSF for wasting their time with the whole "GPL is illegal" bit.

     

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    Eric, Mar 26th, 2006 @ 9:36am

    thats FUQQED UP!

     

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    Steve-o, Mar 26th, 2006 @ 4:10pm

    Further proof that everythung VUG touches turns evil.

     

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    Anonymous, Mar 28th, 2006 @ 9:27am

    Brian Kopp is GREEDY IMO!

    If the creator of the guide was not out to make a profit off a well know and popular video game then why not publish his guide on a fan site for FREE?

    All I see is someone that takes advantage of other's ideas for their own personal gain. Pretty sad really.

     

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    Zeroth404, Mar 29th, 2006 @ 7:47am

    "If the creator of the guide was not out to make a profit off a well know and popular video game then why not publish his guide on a fan site for FREE?

    All I see is someone that takes advantage of other's ideas for their own personal gain. Pretty sad really."

    What the hell are you talking about? He didn't take advantage of anyone's ideas at all, nor did he take any profits from Blizzard or Vivendi. If anything, he HELPed them because you'd need to BUY the game before the manual was of any use.

    Profit has nothing to do with this. The man wrote some things, copied nothing, and sold it. Thats perfectly legit.

    By your reasoning, should PC Gamer be sued beyond recovery because it reviews and makes strategy guides for games which were made by someone else? HMM? Thought not.

     

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    Zeroth404, Mar 30th, 2006 @ 7:19am

    "He posted images from the game, and of course information ABOUT the game. Names/places/things, those all belong to Blizzard. I don't think he invented "Shadowcraft Armour" or "Azshara"

    I also don't think he created those images of onyxia..."

    Read the former posts, would you?

    The use of screen shots are protected by Fair Use.

    Using a name for somethign in direct reference to something else is not ripping it off, and is in NO way copyright infringing -- Nothing was *COPIED*

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 6th, 2006 @ 1:37pm

    I am pissed :@
    Bring out the Horde! Down with Vivendi!
    Hopefully didn't infringe any copyrights above :p

     

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    dric, Apr 30th, 2006 @ 10:20pm

    LOL ROFL LMAO

    hahahahahhahahahahahhahah thats pretty gay preatty gay.. all he did was type up a few letters on the keyboard im pretty sure he made up himself and hes copy-ing someone.. that makes very little sence

    this is kinda like that on video about the guy who wrote "Lies and the lying liars who tell them" lol
    what happens is this guy makes a book that says lies and the lieing liars that tell them and on the front has a FOX news reporter. So FOX being the dumbasses it is decides to sue the author saying hes trying to trick the public into beliving the book was written by fox since the book has the picture of 2 FOX newreporters on it. FOX lost and now theres a funy movie about it. google it and find the movie then blockbuster it :) its awesome

    this is my summary of it incase u guys dont want to read the long/full version of the article below

    http://www.alternet.org/story/16157/

    ^^

     

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    Cheese ham, May 25th, 2006 @ 4:41am

    EQ2 sucks cock

     

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    Stephen R Devino, Jun 4th, 2006 @ 4:52pm

    thats bogus

    If what there saying is true, then the "windows for dummies", and all the how to books will have to go. How can it be infringment when its talking about his exp. with the game? All the web pages that tell you how to do the quests and help you all have to go. I think in the long run it will be found that it's not infringment and all will go back to the way it should be. As long as it's in his own words i don't think they have anything to worry about.

     

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    Paul, Jul 5th, 2006 @ 12:54pm

    WTF BLIZZARD

    Blizzard is greedy and wants to stop people from disrupting the flow of the econimical system in the game. I understand that, but suing him for sopyright laws? I mean WTF? IM not supporting Blizzard, i mean i bought the guide, ( have 4 lvl 60s!!!) and it only has a limited number of pictures and no storyline in it wat so ever. BLizzard really needs to stop picking on people trying to make money and really needs to start picking on the people who are selling gold for real cash. That is where the real problem is. Your case will hold up in Court. Dont be afraid. You got nothing to worry about. I am studying law in college right now and you are IN THE FREE ZONE.

    BTW my lvl 60s are UBER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     

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    Shelly, Jul 11th, 2006 @ 10:56am

    Blizzard, don't offend those who pay you

    It's a little silly. So... anything that's copyrighted.... so if I go to a professional sports game, say a "NBA" game or something, I can't tell anyone about it? I can't say "go to the hot dog vendor by section 222, he'll hook you up!" because it belongs to them? So they are saying that anything, any experience I have that is in ANY WAY associated with that basketball game belongs to them. If his guide is infringement then so is every sports column, every movie review... I like WOW, but they piss me off. I'm waiting for a new game to come out, I want to stop giving them my money. Why don't they just set up a marketplace like EQ? Then they could get a cut, and regulate how much gold and stuff is in circulation.

     

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    Shelly, Jul 11th, 2006 @ 11:01am

    and another thing...

    A lot of people who might otherwise quit playing and QUIT PAYING BLIZZARD THE MONTHLY FEE keep playing because they can buy gold or accounts or whatever. I know it makes people mad to see newbs decked out in epic gear that they know these cats did not earn... but it doesn't really matter. If people don't take the time to learn the game and/or act like idiots, nobody will play with them, no guild will keep them, everyone will put them on ignore, and eventually they will quit.

     

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    taleigha hill, Jul 31st, 2006 @ 5:03pm

    u suk

    i just want to tell u that you should include who invented armour why how and also when bye

     

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    micah, Oct 25th, 2006 @ 1:42pm

    man...

    I dont get it...I know like 6-7 people IRL that quit the game cause they hated leveling...if they had this guide they prolly would have kept playing. hes making people enjoy playing the game more... doesent that mean more money for viv and blizz? they should really think before they do crap like that

     

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    Ryder, Dec 26th, 2006 @ 6:49pm

    hacks

    Is there any hack to lvl to 60 in like 1-24 hrs ive been playing for 6-8 months and im 33 i really need it e mail me if u know it Tough_guy12@hotmail.com

     

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    LeonL, Feb 13th, 2007 @ 9:12am

    What's eBay's problem in all of this?

    So, what is the problem with eBay in all of this? Don't get me wrong. I love the site myself, and am an user of its auction services. The auctions were taken down after a complaint was filed. Fine, that was as per there user agreements. A response was filed by Mr. Kopp. Great. He did his proper recourse. Vivendi/Blizzard/ESA refiled a complaint. They didn't respond to the first at all from what I read. Why should eBay even recognize a second complaint about the same user without a proper follow-up being answered?

    BTW, I've looked around on the 'net for any other news of this. What's the status of the lawsuit?

     

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    Sina, Sep 22nd, 2009 @ 12:24pm

    Spirit of the law...

    I see this is really old, but had to comment.
    The dude was making money through the use of Bliz's product. It's just not right.

     

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