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Appeals Court Affirms DMCA Restriction On  World of Warcraft  Bot

Appeals Court Affirms DMCA Restriction On World of Warcraft Bot

December 15, 2010 | By Kyle Orland

December 15, 2010 | By Kyle Orland
More: Console/PC

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld part of a lower court ruling barring the distribution of an automated play tool for World of Warcraft, saying the program violates the Digital Millenium Copyright Act.

The tool, named Glider, was created by WoW player Michael Donnelly to help players automatically play through the grind-heavy opening levels of the game. Donnelly's MDY Industries reported 120,000 sales of the tool through 2008, and court documents suggest it was one of the game's most popular bots before a 2009 injunction against its distribution.

Blizzard argued in documents viewed by Gamasutra and explained by Wired's Threat Level blog that players using Glider negatively impacted the players that did not use it by creating an unfair advantage.

The company further argued that the tool cost Blizzard subscription fees that it would have earned from players leveling up more slowly without the tool.

But the crux of the case for the 9th Circuit hung on Glider's ability to evade Blizzard's Warden technology, which is used to detect automated bots. The court found that such evasion was a violation of the DMCA's provision against technologies that "circumvent protective technological measures."

In the same ruling, the appeals court rejected a separate Blizzard argument that Glider use constituted copyright infringement on the World of Warcraft game code.

Blizzard first brought a case against Donnelly in 2006 and was awarded a $6 million judgement in 2008. Donnelly's attorney told Wired he is considering asking the Supreme Court to perform further review of the case.

The DMCA was also central is a recent federal case in which federal charges were brought against a California man who installed Xbox 360 mod chips. Charges in that case were later dropped.

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