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Square Enix Files Suit Over  Deus Ex: HR  Leak, Valve Caught In Middle

Square Enix Files Suit Over Deus Ex: HR Leak, Valve Caught In Middle

July 6, 2011 | By Kris Graft

Publisher Square Enix has filed a complaint against several unknown defendants who allegedly used an Italian internet service provider to illegitimately obtain and distribute preview code for the unreleased game Deus Ex: Human Revolution.

And now, Bellevue, WA-based Half-Life house Valve Software has become entangled in the suit against 15 "Doe Defendants" accused of copyright infringement and violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

Square Enix, parent of Deus Ex: HR developer Eidos Montreal, said in its complaint -- obtained by Gamasutra -- that it arranged access to a "limited preview" of the game to select members of the press, under non-disclosure agreements.

These press members could access the preview through Valve's Steam digital distribution platform. One of these authorized reviewers was with the Italian gaming magazine Giochi per il Mio Computer, or GMC.

But on May 31, Square Enix found that an unauthorized copy of the Deus Ex: HR preview was floating around on public peer-to-peer BitTorrent sites. The publisher quickly removed Steam access to the preview, and downloaded a copy of the BitTorrent version to analyze the code.

"Anomalies in the code" pointed to the Steam account of the GMC reviewer. But the IP address of the game journalist's computer at GMC's offices did not match the IP address of the computer that accessed the code during the session in question.

Using a hardware ID number, Valve also determined that the computer used to access the game preview code did not match the computer used by the authorized GMC journalist, the complaint added, suggesting that the access was unauthorized and unknown by the journalist.

Valve said that it has more information about the allegedly-offending Steam account and the relevant hardware ID number, but it cannot release that information to Square Enix due to Valve's privacy policy, unless Valve is subpoenaed for the information.

That's exactly what Square Enix is now pursuing -- permission from the court to issue a subpoena for information from Valve, whose servers held the preview code for the game. Square Enix, which is claiming damages in excess of $5,000, said it believes that information will help identify the Does, and will enable the publisher to pursue the case further.

[Thanks to Patent Arcade for the tip.]

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