June 9, 2006 10:34 AM PDT

Blizzard abandons DMCA threat over 'WoW' manual

A Florida man who claimed he'd been unlawfully blocked from selling copies of his unofficial "World of Warcraft" guide by the wildly popular game's makers can resume his sales, owing to an out-of-court settlement reached Friday.

Brian Kopp, 24, had filed suit in March against California-based Blizzard Entertainment, parent company Vivendi Universal and the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). The complaint alleged that those organizations were wrong to order eBay to terminate auctions of his book "The Ultimate World of Warcraft Leveling & Gold Guide," of which he had sold hundreds of copies since last August at about $15 apiece.

Alleging the book violated intellectual-property laws, Blizzard, Vivendi and the ESA sent repeated take-down notices, provided for by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), to eBay. The auction giant's general policy is to halt auctions when it receives such notices and to suspend a user's account after it racks up a certain number of warnings.

Kopp routinely filed counternotices protesting the claims, according to his original court complaint (click here for PDF) in California federal court. Because the companies never responded to those documents, eBay was free to reinstate Kopp's auctions, which it did. But the video game industry continued to issue take-down notices, the number of which grew high enough that eBay was forced to suspend Kopp's accounts under multiple usernames.

"It's pretty much the equivalent of showing up at your store one morning and finding your goods on the curb with nothing you can do about it," said Greg Beck, an attorney representing Kopp on behalf of advocacy group Public Citizen. "They get so many notices of claimed infringement that they can't investigate all claims."

The parties also threatened copyright and trademark infringement action against Kopp, but he argued the book was in the clear because it presented a disclaimer on its first page about its unauthorized nature, contained no copyrighted text or storylines, and, though it did use selected screen shots downloaded from a site unaffiliated with the video game's makers, those uses were "fair."

The terms of the settlement do not provide for monetary compensation for Kopp, which he had originally sought. Instead, the companies agreed to withdraw their previous take-down notices and to drop their infringement claims. They also said they'd refrain from filing any future take-down notices against the same items Kopp had already disputed through counternotices.

Kopp, for his part, agreed to retain the book's disclaimers about its unofficial nature and said he wouldn't include links or instructions on how to locate "cheats" in the game.

Representatives from the video game industry were not immediately available for comment.

See more CNET content tagged:
DMCA, World of Warcraft, auction, Vivendi Universal, video game

16 comments

Join the conversation!
Add your comment
I did it for everyone
I did this for everyone, I could have settled with it all in my favor but I was willing to take it all the way to help out everyone, not just me. My site is <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ultimatewowguide.i8.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.ultimatewowguide.i8.com</a> for those interested.
Posted by wowseller (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good to see the little guy stick up for our rights
esp since the DMCA was created and designed to slowly take away our rights.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Link Flag
correction
by the comment

"I could have settled with it all in my favor but I was willing to take it all the way to help out everyone, not just me."

I meant I could have settled with the settlement in only my favor, not other peoples.
Posted by wowseller (8 comments )
Link Flag
Should've gone further
I don't understand why you didn't take it further, they should be severely punished for taking away your rights... They didn't even pay your or the group's expenses in this did they? :(

I wish you luck in your sales of the guide, if nothing else, maybe it at least got you a bit of extra sales on the attention from this (I'd have bought one, if I played WoW)
Posted by LosDLosD (10 comments )
Link Flag
You rock!
Thanks for standing up to Blizzard! I hate companies that try and push the little guys around. I went through the same thing a few years ago when Hyperion tried to take my (then) long time domainname hyperion.com away from me. It felt great to stand up to them and win (they now have the domain, after buying it off me). The message to everyone is this: stand up for yourself, and they can't push you around!
Posted by leftfrog (2 comments )
Link Flag
I did it for everyone
I did this for everyone, I could have settled with it all in my favor but I was willing to take it all the way to help out everyone, not just me. My site is <a class="jive-link-external" href="http://www.ultimatewowguide.i8.com" target="_newWindow">http://www.ultimatewowguide.i8.com</a> for those interested.
Posted by wowseller (8 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Good to see the little guy stick up for our rights
esp since the DMCA was created and designed to slowly take away our rights.
Posted by bobby_brady (765 comments )
Link Flag
correction
by the comment

"I could have settled with it all in my favor but I was willing to take it all the way to help out everyone, not just me."

I meant I could have settled with the settlement in only my favor, not other peoples.
Posted by wowseller (8 comments )
Link Flag
Should've gone further
I don't understand why you didn't take it further, they should be severely punished for taking away your rights... They didn't even pay your or the group's expenses in this did they? :(

I wish you luck in your sales of the guide, if nothing else, maybe it at least got you a bit of extra sales on the attention from this (I'd have bought one, if I played WoW)
Posted by LosDLosD (10 comments )
Link Flag
You rock!
Thanks for standing up to Blizzard! I hate companies that try and push the little guys around. I went through the same thing a few years ago when Hyperion tried to take my (then) long time domainname hyperion.com away from me. It felt great to stand up to them and win (they now have the domain, after buying it off me). The message to everyone is this: stand up for yourself, and they can't push you around!
Posted by leftfrog (2 comments )
Link Flag
Glad to see this one over with...
While some will complain that he should have kept fighting this wasn't a type of class action suite so no real benefit would hit anyone but the plaintiff. That said, the litigation and settlement have forced the gaming industry to take a step back and look at their attitudes towards unofficial vendors of related products.

While officially licensed products can make good money for a company like Blizzard they aren't always the best source of information. Hopefully the settlement establishes a precedent that Blizzard and others will continue to follow that allows small independent companies to profit within this and other markets associated with games.

One such market I would like to see go further is the mod market. There are mod designers who create original 3D and 2D art as well as audio and music tracks for games. This is a labor of love but is also worth a lot of money if utilized correctly. Most video game license agreements limit you from being able to sell a mod for the game. This is preventing you from profiting on your own work but does result in more profits for the original game developer. Take a look at how far Half Life went with all the mods people created for it. Valve made a lot of money selling the original game so that players could use a mod that went on top of it that Valve had no part in producing. At the same time, those who put their time and energy into the mod were prevented from making anything out of their work.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Glad to see this one over with...
While some will complain that he should have kept fighting this wasn't a type of class action suite so no real benefit would hit anyone but the plaintiff. That said, the litigation and settlement have forced the gaming industry to take a step back and look at their attitudes towards unofficial vendors of related products.

While officially licensed products can make good money for a company like Blizzard they aren't always the best source of information. Hopefully the settlement establishes a precedent that Blizzard and others will continue to follow that allows small independent companies to profit within this and other markets associated with games.

One such market I would like to see go further is the mod market. There are mod designers who create original 3D and 2D art as well as audio and music tracks for games. This is a labor of love but is also worth a lot of money if utilized correctly. Most video game license agreements limit you from being able to sell a mod for the game. This is preventing you from profiting on your own work but does result in more profits for the original game developer. Take a look at how far Half Life went with all the mods people created for it. Valve made a lot of money selling the original game so that players could use a mod that went on top of it that Valve had no part in producing. At the same time, those who put their time and energy into the mod were prevented from making anything out of their work.
Posted by zaznet (1138 comments )
Reply Link Flag
 

Join the conversation

Add your comment

The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Click here to review our Terms of Use.

What's Hot

Discussions

Shared

RSS Feeds

Add headlines from CNET News to your homepage or feedreader.