from the you're-not-helping dept
Readers here likely have begun to associate the attempted twisting of copyright law to go after video game cheaters with Blizzard. After all, between its StarCraft and Overwatch properties, the gamemaker has made something of a name for itself by attempting to assert a combination of "you only bought a license" and "breaking the EULA creates a copyright violation" theories into a "we can sue you for hacking our games" legal sandwich. It's a terribly frustrating thing to watch Blizzard do, as it tries to pretzel copyright law in a way never intended, and typically to achieve little if any legal success by doing so.
Well, everyone knew that Blizzard wouldn't be pulling this act solo forever, and now we know who the next game company to take up this loser of a strategy will be: Riot Games. Yes, the maker of the popular League of Legends is asserting copyright violations to go after those who create and use cheats and hacks. The complaint specifically targets a cheat called "LeagueSharp," which apparently allows players to automate aspects of gameplay, including targeting other players and seeing game objects that should be hidden.
"Among other things, L# enables its users to abuse LoL by allowing them to, for example, see hidden information; 'automate' gameplay to perform in the game with enhanced or inhuman accuracy; and accumulate levels, experience, and items at a rate that is not possible for a normal human player."
While this sounds very similar to many of the cheats and hacks that Blizzard has complained about, part of the impetus for this legal action is the popularity surrounding League of Legends eSport tournaments. eSports is becoming quite a thing these days, with viewership numbers that are comparable to viewership of traditional athletic competitions. As we've said in the past, cheating in online multiplayer games is at best annoying and at worst truly disruptive to the gaming experience. The stakes only rise when we begin talking about the eSports world, with competitive professionals competing. One can see how analagous to steroids in sports hacks might be in the eSports world. Still, the theories Riot Games trots out to back its copyright claims are nearly identical to Blizzard's, and those claims don't become stronger just because eSports is a thing.
It won't help the makers of the hacks that they appear to have acted in ways that will put them in a negative light.
"Defendants or those working in concert with them disseminated personal and non-public information about a Riot employee, threatened that employee, and posted offensive comments on the employee’s social media. Additionally, knowing that this lawsuit was imminent, Defendants have been quickly and carefully destroying or concealing evidence such as their most incriminating online posts and purporting to hide behind a Peruvian shell corporation created solely for the purpose of evading liability."
Given the insane success that is League of Legends, that might be a tough claim to make. Regardless, this isn't how copyright was meant to be used and stretching it in this way serves nobody at all.