Blizzard Wins $88M Judgment Against WoW Private Server Owner
Blizzard Entertainment last week won a default judgment worth tens of millions of dollars against the operator of an unauthorized World of Warcraft server.
A U.S. District Court judge awarded Blizzard $88 million from defendant Alyson Reeves, operator of Scapegaming, according to court documents obtained by Gamasutra. Blizzard originally filed the lawsuit in October last year.
Blizzard accused Reeves of copyright infringement, unfair competition and circumvention of copyright protection systems, among other allegations. The company said Scapegaming was "well aware" that its actions were unauthorized.
The total award includes over $3 million in disgorged profits, $85.4 million in statutory damages and $64,000 in attorney's fees. Reeves had not responded to the suit, resulting in the default judgment in favor of Blizzard.
Blizzard had accused Reeves, based in the state of Georgia, of marketing and promoting Scapegaming, which allows users to access the copyrighted World of Warcraft without using official Blizzard servers, circumventing subscription fees due to the game's creators.
Operators of pirate servers can alter gameplay of copyrighted MMOs like World of Warcraft, such as allowing players to level up considerably faster than in the legitimate game. The original complaint said Scapegaming would ask for "donations" from players -- but these donations were in exchange for virtual items ranging from $1 to advance characters two levels, to $300 for a pack that included a collection of rare items.
The judge's order said Blizzard "submitted satisfactory evidence from third-party PayPal Inc. showing that Defendant’s PayPal account received $3,052,339 in gross revenues."
The order also said that Blizzard submitted satisfactory evidence that showed Reeves' website (Scapegaming.com, currently down) hosted 32,000 users on a given day in June 2008. That same month, there were over 427,000 members of the Scapegaming community, and Reeves, who goes by a number of aliases including "Peyton," said that 40,000 people play on Scapegaming's servers every day.
The court took the size of the community, 427,000, and multiplied that figure by $200 "per act of circumvention" of a copyright security system, and came to the statutory damages amount of over $85 million. It's unclear if Reeves, who didn't respond to the suit, would be able to pay the award to fulfillment, or if the defendant would appeal the ruling.