Legal Issues

by Mike Masnick

Settlement Leaves Open Questions On The Legality Of Naked Volleyball Players

from the questions-questions-questions dept

Two years ago, on April 1st, I was worried that a story concerning a lawsuit filed by a video game maker was an April Fool's joke. The lawsuit was over a video game showing barely dressed women playing volleyball. Some... "fans" of the game made a skin that turned the scantily clad women into "not at all clad" women. It turned out not to be an April Fool's joke at all. Tecmo really did sue some people for creating a mod of their volleyball game to show the pixelated women in all their simulated nakedness. Why they would bother (especially considering the hoops any user would need to go through in order to actually use this modification) was an open question. Of course, the bigger question was whether or not there really was anything illegal about modifying a game you already owned to make it more appealing (no matter how strange that appeal was). In turns out, we won't find out this time. The video game maker has settled the lawsuit with the webmasters of a forum where this hack was allegedly traded. Again, it seems like an odd move to sue the webmasters of a forum, as they would likely be protected by laws that say forum providers are not responsible for the content that goes through those forums. What's not clear from the settlement, however, is whether or not the webmasters gave up the names of users of the website who may have downloaded the patch. This whole thing seems particularly silly. The modification only works for those who have actually bought the game -- so, if anything, this patch should encourage more sales. Then again, there's still that cynical part of the brain noting that this lawsuit, for whatever reason, might simply be part of a warped marketing campaign to advertise the game (specifically marketing the fact that, with a little work, seriously desperate gamers can see naked video game women -- while still appearing to be against the idea).

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