Ruling In WoW Bot Case At Odds With Intention Of Copyright Law
from the very-troubling dept
When a judge ruled last summer that a World of Warcraft bot violated Blizzard’s copyright, the ruling was already quite problematic in that it vastly expanded the scope of copyright law in terms of the power of an EULA to limit the activities of legitimate purchasers by use of copyright law. However, an additional ruling dealing with some of the other aspects in the case may be even worse. Tim Lee’s writeup explains all the gory details, but just to highlight the key point: this ruling clearly goes well beyond the intention of copyright law and the DMCA specifically, in allowing a software company not to just limit the sale or copying of its program, but to limit how a legitimate copy is used outside of additional copying or selling.
Of course, as we saw when the original ruling was made, there are some in the tech community who are willing to ignore the implications of this just because they don’t like what the bot software did (i.e., helping people effectively cheat in the game). However, you need to look beyond what the software did to what these rulings actually mean, and it’s quite problematic, and could represent a significant expansion of how copyright law can be used to remove all sorts of rights from individuals. The fact that this particular piece of software was used for questionable purposes is not the issue. The issue is that it was a twisted reading of copyright law that was used to stop it. Blizzard had a variety of options — mainly technological — to combat such a bot. To use copyright law is a problem we should all be concerned about.