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Blizzard Bot Decision Reversed

The Mondaq Intellectual Property Blog has word that the United States Ninth Circuit Appeals Court has reversed the $6 million awarded to Blizzard in their legal action against the creators of the WoW Glider bot for World of Warcraft (thanks Mike Martinez via Slashdot). Though the court found no liability for secondary copyright infringement, they did find the bot to be a violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Word is: "The appeals court held that MDY's anti-detection technology violated Section 1201(a)(2) of the DMCA, which prohibits trafficking in products that circumvent technologies designed to control access to copyright protected works. In reaching this conclusion, the court rejected the Federal Circuit's seminal ruling in Chamberlain Group, Inc. v. Skylink Techs., Inc. holding that circumvention technologies which do not facilitate copyright infringement do not trigger liability under Section 1201(a)(2) of the DMCA. Thus, even though as discussed above the court ruled that Glider did not facilitate copyright infringement, MDY could still be liable under the DMCA for circumventing Warden's detection features." Here's what they say this all means:

This decision could have significant implications for another lawsuit filed by Blizzard against three alleged hackers who created "cheats" for StarCraft II, another popular Blizzard game. Blizzard has alleged similar claims of secondary copyright infringement against the defendants in that case. This decision may lead to dismissal of those copyright claims, although the defendants may still be liable for tortious interference with Blizzard's contracts.

The decision also creates a conflict between the Federal Circuit and the Ninth Circuit on an important question of federal statutory interpretation whether a plaintiff seeking to hold a defendant liable under the DMCA for selling a technology-circumventing device must prove that the device facilitates copyright infringement. This conflict may call, ultimately, for Supreme Court resolution.

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