June 16th, 2008 by Benjamin Duranske
VB has obtained an order (.pdf) issued by the judge in MDY v. Blizzard requiring World of Warcraft creator Blizzard to respond to a brief critical of a key argument in its case against bot-maker MDY.
The argument under attack is Blizzard’s claim that software which loads World of Warcraft in a computer’s memory creates a copy, and thus violates Blizzard’s copyright. The brief Blizzard has been ordered to respond to was filed last month by Public Knowledge, a digital rights advocacy group. Though Public Knowledge’s brief was styled as an amicus curaie (“friend of the court”) brief in support of neither party, the brief focused exclusively on questions regarding Blizzard’s somewhat controversial copyright claim. Public Knowledge’s argument was amplified in MDY’s subsequent briefing.
For background, see VB’s complete coverage of MDY v. Blizzard.
The issue is essentially this: Blizzard claims that when third-party programs like MDY’s Glider (which automates certain World of Warcraft tasks) load World of Warcraft software into a computer’s RAM, that “creation of a copy” violates the copyright Blizzard holds in its software.
Public Knowledge argues “that Blizzard doesn’t have a claim on copyright grounds because the right of users to make the copy for use by the computer is already guaranteed by law. [...] Therefore, Blizzard cannot claim any infringement of its copyrights based upon the creation of RAM copies because the right to make those copies was never Blizzard’s to license in the first place.”
The brief appears to have caught the attention of the Court, which wrote:
Public Knowledge argues that WoW users are owners of the WoW software they purchased and therefore do not infringe copyright by using their software in a manner authorized by 17 U.S.C. § 117. MDY Industries and Michael Donnelly make the same argument in their reply brief. The Court will require Blizzard Entertainment and Vivendi Games to respond to this argument.
Oral argument on this motion is scheduled for June 26 in Phoenix.
Note: If any of VB’s Arizona law student or attorney readers would consider covering the argument June 26, I would very much like to run something. Drop me a note if you are in the Phoenix area, and could plan to attend and write a guest spot.
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