Epic Accuses Cheating Minor Of Continuing To Promote Cheat Software Even After Lawsuit

from the minor-problem dept

Over the past year or so, we've been discussing Epic's somewhat strange ongoing legal dispute with a minor from Illinois over cheating software he developed for Fortnite. Epic initially went after a host of so-called cheaters for developing these tools, claiming that they were violating both copyright and TOS agreements for the game. It found out later that one of these targets was a minor. Instead of backing off in any respect, even after the child's mother petitioned the court with a letter asking it to dismiss the case as the minor can't have entered into a TOS agreement, Epic has since pressed the throttle to go after a child.

This, as I argued at the time, should have been a PR nightmare for Epic. However, after the minor retained a proper non-maternal lawyer and put in a proper motion to dismiss, Epic contends that the minor continued both cheating in Fortnite as well as promoting his cheating software through alternate channels. If that's truly the case, it paints the teen in a much less flattering light.

While plenty of kids would be terrified facing a lawsuit like this, CBV didn’t appear to be impressed. In a YouTube video where he explained the situation last month, the 14-year-old said that he wouldn’t make Fortnite videos anymore. However, he was far from apologetic.

“Fuck epic games. I mean, at least they can’t come after my channel anymore. I’m never gonna make another video. But if they really want to come at my neck for 100 Mil then they can just fuck their brand on their own,” CBV said.

Among other things, the game publisher points out that CBV didn’t halt his cheating activities after the lawsuit was filed. On the contrary, Epic claims that the defendant made another cheating video on a separate channel and registered a new domain to sell cheats.

“Defendant continues to develop and sell cheat software specifically targeted at Epic and Fortnite. Indeed, Defendant has created a new website located at <NexusCheats.us>, a domain name Defendant registered on August 1, 2019,” Epic writes.

While that looks bad, it also doesn't really effect the minor's central argument, which is that the kid was a minor and couldn't have entered into the TOS contract. Still, the courts tend not to look to fondly when the defendant is going around continuing the same activity that landed him in a lawsuit to begin with. Especially when said defendant is publicly spouting off like this.

All of that, again, is merely flavor for Epic's argument that even as a minor the TOS agreement is valid, primarily as the minor "benefited" from agreeing to the TOS, which in this case meant accessing the game.

“His arguments that he is immune from those consequences, including his claim that this Court does not have jurisdiction over him because ‘he’s a kid,’ are without merit,” Epic tells the Court.

According to Epic, not all contracts with minors are automatically void. There are exceptions, which it believes apply here. In addition, this “infancy defense” doesn’t apply, because the alleged cheater also reaped the benefits of these agreements. According to Epic’s response brief, the defendant was well aware of the potentially illegal nature of his activities – after being sued, banned and targeted with repeated DMCA notices – but he continued nonetheless.

None of this changes the reality that Epic is pursuing full force its questionable claim that cheating violates copyright against a teenager. This should still be a situation where PR overrides any legal merit and results in Epic settling this and moving on.

But the defendant appears to be undermining that calculus by spouting off.

Filed Under: bad actors, cbv, cheat tools, cheating, copyright, fortnite, video games
Companies: epic


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2019 @ 7:55pm

    My only gripe would be the selling of the cheats.

    Cheating in games is a part of our culture. The TOS is bullshit for adults, much less children. If you pay for the game, then you get the benefit. There's no benefit to agreeing to the TOS itself. That's just clickwrap nobody reads.

    The company can ban or create a cheater's server if they want. A lawsuit is just monetary bullying.

    That said, I don't care for server based games because of cheating or other players ruining the game for you, so o don't have a dog in this fight other than Epic Games fucking over gamers with exclusivity deals.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2019 @ 6:06am

      Re:

      If you pay for the game, then you get the benefit.

      How much do you pay for fortnite?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2019 @ 8:26am

        Re: Re:

        Don't be obtuse. The base game may be free but it's loaded with in-game purchases that net the company several orders of magnitude more money than the original paid game the battle royale version was based on.

        If you want to be competitive Fortnite is not free. Those in-game purchases are not purely aesthetic and even if they were there is tremendous pressure to buy them, including the season pass.

        A great many people pay plenty for Fortnite.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      wereisjessicahyde (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 6:53am

      Re:

      Cheating might be part of your culture but it isn't part of mine.

      You can cheat all you want in single player games. But when you cheat in multi-player games you ruin the experience for everyone else, so much so that people that've paid good money for a game simply can't enjoy it any more.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Toom1275 (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 8:34am

        Re: Re:

        One problem, though is singleplayer games being polluted with stupid multiplayer features and achievements, being used as excuses to hobble modding.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2019 @ 9:33am

        Re: Re:

        I don't cheat in multiplayer games. I try to avoid them unless the game itself is interesting enough, but sadly those end up going away when not enough players play or the companies hemorrhage money. I'd much rather they be single player offline games and I'll gladly pay more for premium editions of good games.

        As another commenter said, multiplayer features can kill modding. I love mods. The idea that the game creators could create the exact experience any player wants is absurd. Modding is necessary to make games into what you want. Often times, they fix broken game mechanics or correct bad decisions by developers.

        But monetization through microtransactions screws this up. Suddenly changing your character's appearance is a greater cost rather than a fun mini aspect of the game and an opportunity to mod it how you like.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 Sep 2019 @ 8:44pm

    What kind of game is Fornite. I heard it mentioned in a video when one mother got really mad when her son skipped class to play Fortnite, and his mother was quite pissed about it when the school called.

    That is the first time I ever heard of fortnite.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That Anonymous Coward (profile), 5 Sep 2019 @ 11:49pm

      Re:

      Its a multiplayer murderous king of the hill.
      Say 100 people drop into an island, find weapons, ammo, materials, to kill others until 1 person wins.
      Very fast paced.

      Its the one that the rappers & Carlton from the Fresh Prince sued over people being able to buy a dance move they made famous.

      You can buy all sorts of cosmetic things for your character & there is a subscription you can get for more stuff but its a free game.

      Parents like to blame Fortnite for all the bad things their child does all while ignoring they actually are the parent & can make the kid stop.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        James Burkhardt (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 8:03am

        Re: Re:

        Id contest the description 'King of the Hill". KOTH involves a 'Hill', a defined location less than the total volume of the field of play that must be defended. Killing is only a means to the end of keeping other people off the hill. Fortnight is in the battle royale genre, which is a sole survivor genre. Defeating your enemies is more important than maintaining sole control of a specific location. Its no more king of the hill then hunger games.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 12:54am

      Re:

      "That is the first time I ever heard of fortnite."

      While it's a mystery why you announce both your ignorance and your inability to look for information on the internet, how does your lack of knowledge about a game played by over 125 million people affect the point of this story?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      legalcon (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 8:39am

      Re:

      nice one.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 5 Sep 2019 @ 8:58pm

    Get real

    " If that's truly the case, it paints the teen in a much less flattering light. "

    Not nearly as bad a light as Epic. Not even close.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 5:23am

      Re: Get real

      Yeah, the teen is acting... like a teen. Particularly, a pissed off teen who thinks he's getting the shaft by a big corporate entity... which he is.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    MathFox, 6 Sep 2019 @ 1:47am

    Does Epic have evidence?

    It would not be the first time one party in a lawsuit accused the other party of something, and it appeared that a third party was responsible.

    Not that I say that Epic would ever do such a thing intentionally, but such accusations are a way to make the other party spend more money on defending itself.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2019 @ 2:04am

    Did I miss something?

    Why doesn't Epic just fix the game?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      JoeCool (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 5:25am

      Re: Did I miss something?

      It takes time for a team of engineers to rewrite the parts of the game that are affected by the cheating. In the meantime, they have a team of lawyers that need billable hours.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2019 @ 3:36am

    So what, cheating was "meh" but being pissed off about getting sued and saying so without mincing words is suddenly a horrible crime? And the lawsuit either has or has no merit (on grounds of being a minor etc.) and if it has, continuing to sell is indeed quite unwise; but if it does not, why should he stop selling? Yo, Epic, ban the kid and fix your shit to close the cheat loophole - suing is for sore losers. Also, a sentence might take into account how repentant a defendant is - but the legality of what he did is not supposed to depends on it, and if it does, that's not much of a "justice".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anon E Mouse, 6 Sep 2019 @ 5:28am

      Re:

      Epic has already banned the kid. Repeatedly. He keeps making new accounts, which cost him nothing since it's a free game. Epic has also tried asking him to stop, and got a reply which amounted to "what are you going to do, sue me?". So they did.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 5:40am

        Re: Re:

        Yes, and by doing so have confirmed they're a prime target for scammers and other people who would use their platform for something other than simply cheating. They can't block a kid who just wants to play. They can't stop his cheats from working. Who knows what else they're incapable of stopping?

        These lawsuits not only advertise their incompetence, they're virtually an invitation to attack their player base.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anon E Mouse, 6 Sep 2019 @ 6:16am

          Re: Re: Re:

          True. I'm just happy Epic chose to try other measures first, rather than the legal action now worrying about making sense later approach that so often gets written about here.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 6:56am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Yes, but continuing after they know he's a minor destroys any good will they get from that. They should be embarrassed that they have no other way of stopping him.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2019 @ 8:08am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              One of rhe greatest gifts a parent can teach any child is that actions have consequences.

              Don't like the consequences? Then don't do the actions that provoke them.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2019 @ 9:36am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Sure. Let's start jailing kids for being kids. Incarceration will make (criminal) men out of them.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2019 @ 10:10am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  I wasn't aware that Epic filed a criminal complaint and is pressing charges. Last time I checked, this was a civil suit.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2019 @ 6:16am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Just wants to play? So you're ignoring basically everything the kid is actually doing? Where does selling cheats and posting videos showing others how to cheat figure into just wanting to play?

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 6:52am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Where does selling cheats and posting videos showing others how to cheat figure into just wanting to play?"

            I'm not sure if you've met teenage boys, but a lot of them are dicks and that includes breaking rules for fun. Cheating/enabling others to cheat is likely all part of the game in his mind.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Gary (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 5:29am

    Self Promotion

    The thing is this kids doesn't make the cheats. And hasn't used them to disrupt games as far as I've seen. He's just a kid with a YouTube channel, not a coder.

    Epic is upset because he's promoting and demonstrating cheats that other people make. Really looks like they would rather silence the videos than fix the game problems.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Koby (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 6:14am

    No PR Nightmare

    It was claimed that this could be a PR nightmare for Epic. However, the playerbase, the vast majority of whom are perfectly legitimate players, MASSIVELY DETEST the idea that some 14 year old kid is cheating in their game, or even simply promoting cheats. As a result, this lawsuit will be a PR BENEFIT for Epic. Attempting to shame Epic will not work when its paying customers, if it were up to a vote, would rather see the kid thrown in jail.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Aaron Walkhouse (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 7:48am

    Until a court tells the teen to stop...

    ...no court can punish him for what he's doing now. Epic might not like it, but they should have led with an injunction. That they didn't is a good indication of the weakness of their case. Their lawyers knew they couldn't get an injunction, so now they're trying to work around the problem by convincing a judge to convert their wishes into a precedent for use against the public, one which is not yet clearly possible in current interpretations of either copyright or TOS agreements.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Aaron Walkhouse (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 7:49am

    Until a court tells the teen to stop...

    ...no court can punish him for what he's doing now. ‌ Epic might not like it, but they should have led with an injunction. That they didn't is a good indication of the weakness of their case. Their lawyers knew they couldn't get an injunction, so now they're trying to work around the problem by convincing a judge to convert their wishes into a precedent for use against the public, one which is not yet clearly possible in current interpretations of either copyright or TOS agreements.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2019 @ 8:34am

    Modus Operandi

    This lawsuit was entirely predictable. Fortnite, Epic's surprise cash-cow, is dying. Epic has made a number of decisions in changes to the game that have irritated its players and sent many of them away to other games. When these players are also streamers and youtubers they take a huge number of regular players with them when they defect. Fortnite is no longer the #1 trending game on YT and Twitch and this has hurt Epic's bottom line. The next natural step, and we've seen it countless times before, is to start blaming others for this downturn and going after them without ever recognizing it was their own stupid choices that caused all of this.

    Cheating is a problem in all multiplayer games. Cheaters get caught and banned all the time. Suing one of them here and another there will do nothing to stem that tide of miscreants. This is nothing more than Epic lashing out while on Fortnite's deathbed at those is mistakenly sees as responsible for their turn of bad luck.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2019 @ 9:34am

    Sue the Mom

    Since the mother has enabled her asshole son and refuses to admit there are consequences to her actions of raising said asshole, sue her for everything he does. She is the one allowing him to use the internet and access the game. Sue her into jail and he will be taken away and raised by a more responsible person.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tom (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 10:46am

      Re: Sue the Mom

      ^^ This. Mother can no longer claim she didn't know. Might have worked for the first claim Epic made, but no longer. She knows her kid is doing this and appears to be making no effective effort to shut him down.

      IMO - Epic is going about this all wrong. They should file a report with the IRS claiming the kid likely isn't filing Income Tax returns for his sales. The IRS does have jurisdiction to investigate and bring charges for failure to file + penalty and interest on unpaid taxes. As a bonus, Epic might get a percentage of all tax recovered. Also likely that when Mama gets an IRS audit notice she will get somewhat more interested in the legal mess her kid is getting her into.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Anonymous Coward (profile), 6 Sep 2019 @ 9:54am

    Legal consequences for children caught cheating?

    Regardless of the merits (or lack thereof) of the lawsuit, it is patently absurd that cheating in a cartoon game for babies would have legal consequences for a 14-year-old.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 6 Sep 2019 @ 10:00am

    Or...

    they could just integrate the cheats into the game so everyone has them. Instead they continue the "War on Cheats" and we all know how successful these "Wars" are.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    urza9814, 6 Sep 2019 @ 10:35am

    Violating ToS is apparently legal anyway...

    The government has already asserted that there is nothing illegal about an adult knowingly and willfully violating a Terms of Service agreement, as posted here a few hours ago:
    https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20190904/11261742918/federal-govt-gives-customs-officers-perm ission-to-break-social-media-platform-rules-forbidding-fake-accounts.shtml

    Why would it be any more illegal when a minor does it?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 6 Sep 2019 @ 12:16pm

    Its all about publicity

    This whole thing is stupid... Just delete the kids account and any others he makes and be done with it... This is just a stupid way for EPIC to keep themselves in the news.
    If the kid really is cheating on the game and continues to do so, then I'd argue he's ruining it for others and needs to be kicked off the platform... what's suing the kid going to solve?
    Let him go ruin some other game for other players...

    That all being said, I really don't like this kind of game and I think that EPIC needs this type of publicity to continue to keep people interested in it....
    The same reason that people like daytime soap operas

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 7 Sep 2019 @ 6:24am

      Re: Its all about publicity

      "Just delete the kids account and any others he makes"

      The issue appears to be they tried that, and they're not competent enough to do it effectively.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 7 Sep 2019 @ 6:11am

    The most bullshit argument of all:

    In addition, this “infancy defense” doesn’t apply, because the alleged cheater also reaped the benefits of these agreements.

    Uh, terms of service that don't involve a benefit on the side of the user would be unenforceable.

    What Epic is saying here that terms of service cannot be enforced against a cat walking over the keyboard, assuming that this did not result in an in-game purchase of an anti-dog weapon.

    That's not how the laws work.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rekrul, 7 Sep 2019 @ 12:59pm

    Three questions;

    1. From a TECHNICAL standpoint, how are these cheats different from any other mod? Yes I know, "CHEATS ARE BAD!!!!!!!!!!!", but how exactly is the code for a cheat any different than any other mod? And if cheats can be declared illegal, what's to stop the company from stomping on any mods it doesn't like?

    2. Do these cheats actually violate copyright? It seems to me that "copyright" has basically become an umbrella term encompassing anything a copyright holder doesn't like, regardless of the actual "copy" part of the law. In all the stories I've read about this, I can't recall ever seeing any specific information about how the cheats violated Epic's copyright.

    3. Is the TOS really enforceable? And if so, what are the limits of such a "contract" given that only about 0.001% of the users ever actually read them? Could Epic insert a clause saying that if you play the game you have to sign over your house to the company? If not, why? What's stopping them?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 8 Sep 2019 @ 4:23am

      Re:

      1. They're not, but there's no reason they couldn't effectively block this player, create servers where modders/cheaters are sand iced in their own servers and so on. I'd imagine making kids illegal overall would get a lot if opposition from within the industry, since not do many of their staff originate in the modding community, a number of profitable big name titles started as mods.

      2. Probably a grey area. If the mod includes modifying and redistributing proprietary code then yes, but you'd have to examine each cheat to know. A cheat that exploits a bug in the code without actually changing it might not be a copyright violation, but might break other laws.

      3. That's up to the courts, but I think there's a test of reasonableness to avoid such thinks - people sneaking stuff into contracts people aren't reading predates the internet.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Starke (profile), 10 Sep 2019 @ 2:06pm

      Re:

      1: The simplest answer is that mods are added content. There's probably a bit of gray area on mods that are simple balance tweaks, but when you're looking at most modding, that's new content (of one form or another) being added to a game.

      That said, there's no single answer to this. Modding and cheating can rely on similar tools, but the methods used vary from title to title. Some cheats would require hooking a process into a .dll, while others will require a recompiled version of the .exe. Most of the time, modding will modify database entries for the game in question, or rely on a published API. However, this is not universal. I've modded titles where the database was stored in plaintext .ini files, and I've seen games where modding required tricking the DRM to accept the modified data as legitimate.

      The grayest area are, probably, the reshader mods. In these cases, you're looking at a toolkit that hooks into the render pipeline (usually via a .dll), and mechanically is very similar to wallhack mods, which also hook into the render pipeline. In both cases you're technically modifying what's rendered, however the intentions, and the information provided to the player, is vastly different.

      1. Yes. Again, the technical elements are relevant, but most end user cheats do require the user to run a modified version of the software. A rather crude analogy would be like taking a book, adding a few hyperlinks, and then trying to distribute it as your own. It is, in fact, copyright infringement. You can argue that you're "adding value," but it won't pass a scratch and sniff test. The infringement happens when the modified version of the game is being executed, because that is an unauthorized copy. Again, in crude terms, it's a counterfeit of the original software.

      Now, there is the fair use test. (Remember, fair use is an affirmative defense.) The purpose and character of the infringement, the nature of the copyrighted work, the amount of the work taken, and, the effect on the market.

      These four are all taken together and weighed as a whole. Sometimes you'll see people say, "well, it's educational, so it should be fine," but it's not that simple.

      The purpose of the infringement is to disrupt the work for others to improve your own experience. That's not going to fly as a fair use defense. This is where the transformative element of a defense comes into play. For example: If you're taking a work, and parodying it, this will offer significant weight towards fair use.

      The nature of the work is fiction. Really, this test is about offering additional fair use protections when you use factual data presented by someone. So, weird as it may sound, textbooks, biographies, news articles, all enjoy less copyright protections, at least when they're truthful. Again, this is part of the entire test. Fortnite isn't factual, so that's not a score for this kid.

      The amount of the work taken. In this case, the argument is that the entire work is being taken, and then modified at runtime. Generally, this is more interested in protecting things like, "taking screenshots," or pulling a quote from a book. Pulling lots of quotes, on the other hand, to the point that you're transcribing entire chunks of text, can cross the line.

      Finally, the effect on the market usually works from the assumption that the infringing product will be replacing the copyrighted work in the market. However, because of how the test is written, actively interfering with the original work (for example, by producing a product that devalues the original.) So, those twitter accounts that "fight clickbait" would probably be infringing, at least on this element of the test, simply because they reduce the need for someone to click through.

      In the case of cheats, Epic needs to be able to show that the proliferation of cheat tools affected their bottom line. Something that gets easier every time someone in these threads says that they're too "lazy" or "incompetent" to fix things on their own.

      It's an unusual situation, and there is a valid argument that copyright isn't the correct tool for these kinds of situations, but as the law is written, it is infringement.

      This is distinct from the private servers cases with WoW. With those, the infringers were running code for WoW that they did not legally own (that is to say, the server side code), so that's a little more cut and dried.

      It's also (to the best of my knowledge) not really feasible to go after end users for infringement over cheats like this. The key element is that the infringers were distributing elements of the original code to others, and while the amount taken was small, the fair use tests fail on every other count.

      1. Yes, with some caveats. Terms of Service fall under contract law. To the best of my knowledge, contract law does not include any punitive damages (at least in the United States), so you can only sue for actual damages. In most circumstances, that's going to be negligible.

      For example: if you signed a ToS that prohibited you from posting any personal information on a site, but later accidentally gave your first name. You could be sued, but if there weren't any actual damages, the suit wouldn't be able to seek damages. However, if disclosing your name caused them to run afoul of a regulatory agency somewhere, which fined them for (let's say) $5k, then they could sue you for that 5k.

      Again, this is a little weird as situations go, because Epic is claiming that the kid caused actual damages to them via the distribution and sales of this cheat program. That said, they're also probably high balling the number, until the kid's lawyer tries to drag them back down to earth, (or get the suit tossed because the numbers are too speculative.)

      There are legal limits to contracts, but not reading them doesn't provide any protections. In point of fact, you should have read them, but chose not to. That is your choice, you're welcome to do so, and if both parties feel they're getting what they wanted from the experience, then there's (probably) not going to be any legal fallout.

      As for the house example, there's a couple elements of contract law that can render individual clauses null.

      Unconscionably can nullify a clause if it's so absurd or unfair that it cannot be allowed to stand. Granted, being asked to hand over your house isn't automatically an example of this, but it's highly likely that it would be tossed because of this principle.

      Misrepresentation can nullify a clause if it's purpose was deliberately obtuse or inconsistent with negotiations. Again, it wouldn't automatically protect your home ownership, but burying that little gem in the fine print wouldn't mean they'd get your house without a fight.

      A clause can be nullified if it's functionally impossible (or fully impossible) to satisfy. This is why no company can claim your soul in a contract, because there's no way to hand over an intangible concept that may, or may not, exist, depending on your philosophical outlook and spiritual convictions. Again, it won't necessarily protect you from signing away your house, but the actual process is a bit more involved than just saying, "yeah, I'll do that."

      (Incidentally, there are a lot of other reasons a clause can be ejected from a contract, or an entire contract can be thrown out. These are just the reasons that come to mind which are relevant to your example.)

      Now, here's the sticky part. If you signed a contract which obligated you to transfer ownership of your house to a third party, of your own free will. No coercion, no duress. That is legal.

      The two things that stop it are: Epic doesn't want your house. It's a financial headache they don't need to deal with and aren't set up to handle. Second, that would be monumentally bad press for them.

      If there's one takeaway here, it's this: You probably should read the contracts you sign.

      The likelihood of game developer pulling something like this is pretty low, but there are a lot of shady groups that really do make their money scamming people out of their homes, and then flipping the real estate.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Rekrul, 18 Sep 2019 @ 12:28pm

        Re: Re:

        Thank you for the detailed answer. :)

        That said, there's no single answer to this. Modding and cheating can rely on similar tools, but the methods used vary from title to title. Some cheats would require hooking a process into a .dll, while others will require a recompiled version of the .exe.

        Somewhere I have a hack program for the game Aliens vs. Predator: Gold, which allows you to do all sorts of things that the original game was never designed to allow. It doesn't modify any files, it runs in the background and modifies the code in memory. I used it to remove the save limit (you were only allowed to save a limited number of times during each level). I never could get the species switch option to work, although I did accidentally keep hitting the wireframe option at the worst possible times. :)

        Yes. Again, the technical elements are relevant, but most end user cheats do require the user to run a modified version of the software. A rather crude analogy would be like taking a book, adding a few hyperlinks, and then trying to distribute it as your own.

        I always assumed that most mods were distributed as patches that you run to modify your original files. The patches would be original code, so no copyright violation there, you have the original files, so no violation there either. You run the patch and it modifies the original files, which might violate some aspect of copyright law, but I would think that would fall under fair use since you're only doing it for your own personal use. Doing so in a way that disrupts the game for others might violate some other rule, but it shouldn't fall under copyright law.

        Unconscionably can nullify a clause if it's so absurd or unfair that it cannot be allowed to stand.

        The one clause that really stands out to me with regard to software is the one where the software company disclaims any responsibility for any damages the program might cause, even if such damages are the result of a flaw in their program. How is this allowed?

        If you buy a TV and it has a defect that starts a fire in your home, you can sue the company. Nobody would consider it reasonable for the instruction manual to claim that the company isn't responsible for any damages that a defect might cause. But yet if you buy a piece of software to back up the contents of your phone and it ends up bricking it, causing you to lose photos, business contact info and other important stuff, the company says they're not responsible, even if it was a verified bug in their software that did it.

        Most EULAs also disclaim any responsibility for the software failing to even work. Imagine if you went to the store to buy a Blu-Ray player and there was no guarantee it was even going to work when you got it home?

        I don't see how software companies get away with either.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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