(Mis)Uses of Technology

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
copyright, mafia wars, threats

Companies:
zynga



Zynga Threatens Mafia Wars Auto Play Script Over Copyright Violations...

from the but-what-copyright? dept

I have to admit to massive disappointment with Zynga. The company who was founded by and invested in by folks who I tend to think are rather "clueful" has been involved in all sorts of questionable activity, from virtual goods scams to ridiculous trademark lawsuits against competitors. The latest, sent in by reader Eric, is a case where it looks like Zynga is really stretching copyright law as well. Specifically, Zynga has sent a cease & desist to the folks who make an autoplayer script called Mafia Wars Auto Player. MWAP appears to do what you would expect: which is allow a player who has installed it in his or her Firefox browser (it's a Greasemonkey userscript) to "autoplay" the game Mafia Wars based on parameters set in the tool. Seems pretty straightforward.

Now, Mafia Wars bans the use of such scripts in its terms of service, and has apparently been known to ban users caught using such scripts. I don't quite understand why this is a big deal (admittedly, I don't play the game, but I don't see how this is different than if a player sat there and played repetitively themselves), but if Zynga wants to ban players, so be it. But what isn't clear at all is how the makers of this userscript are violating Zynga's copyright. You can look at the full source code of the user script here, and I'm at a loss to see where the copyright violation occurs. I can understand that Zynga doesn't like that this userscript exists, but I'm not clear how "we don't like it" means "it infringes our copyright." Instead, it has the feeling of a (now) big company using the threat of copyright law to try to push a small community to shut down. And, it appears to have worked, as the MWAP people have decided to comply with the C&D rather than fight it.

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  1. icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), 28 Dec 2009 @ 4:06pm

    Re:

    No, the problem is that it does not violate the copyright. Even if it's cheating, it still does not violate any copyrights. It violates something else, rules, whatever. Not copyright.

    If you come to my house and cheat at cards, can I sue you for copyright infringement? Can the inventor of the cards? Of the game? No.

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