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Re: Utterly imbecile pinky communist Ninth Circuit 'judges' (Vernor scan

From: Alexander Terekhov
Subject: Re: Utterly imbecile pinky communist Ninth Circuit 'judges' (Vernor scandalous ruling)
Date: Tue, 21 Dec 2010 11:17:12 +0100

"A Mixed Ninth Circuit Ruling in MDY v. Blizzard: WoW Buyers Are Not
Owners – But Glider Users Are Not Copyright Infringers

Legal Analysis by Corynne McSherry

The Ninth Circuit today issued its decision in the second of a trio of
cases that raise the critical legal question of whether "magic words" in
a end-user license agreement (EULA) slapped onto a consumer product can
turn buyers (or gift recipients) into mere licensees, rather than
owners. Following its previous ruling in the first of these cases,
Vernor v. Autodesk, the court today said yes — but there’s a twist.

The case (which we've covered previously) pits Blizzard, the maker of
World of Warcraft, against MDY, the maker of a program called Glider
(what Blizzard calls a "bot") that lets you play WoW on "auto-pilot" up
to a certain level. Blizzard won in the district court, successfully
arguing that WoW purchasers do not "own" their software, but merely
"license" it. On this dystopian view, Blizzard owns every WoW DVD ever
shipped for all eternity and may be able to use copyright law to punish
WoW players who use the software in any manner not authorized by the
"license" (like using Glider). The district court agreed, and MDY

Ownership matters, because otherwise Blizzard and other software vendors
can wipe away important consumer rights with legalese contained in
license agreements. For example, in Section 117 of the Copyright Act,
Congress gave owners of computer software the right to use their
legitimately purchased software without having to rely on permissions in
license agreements — but that right applies only to owners.

In September, the Ninth Circuit held that buyers of software (and
possibly DVDs, CDs and other "licensed" content) are not owners as long
as the vendor saddles the transfer with enough restrictions to transform
what the buyer may think is sale into a mere license. Today, in yet
another blow to user rights, the Ninth Circuit ruled that Blizzard’s
license restrictions for WoW accomplish the same purpose.

However, the court also held that using Glider in WoW play in violation
of Blizzard’s terms did not amount to copyright infringement. Blizzard
had argued that MDY was secondarily liable for copyright infringement
because it provided software that allowed users to play in unauthorized
ways. Not so, said the appellate court, because there was no direct
liability to begin with. The license term that forbade WoW players from
using Glider was a covenant — a promise not to do something — rather
than a condition — limiting the scope of the copyright license. And
while violating "antibot" covenants might breach a contract, it does not
violate any copyright. (By contrast, creating a derivative work might.)

This point may seem a bit arcane, but it's crucial because it helps
avoid a situation in which violating contracts and EULAs could result in
a copyright infringement lawsuit (with the heavy club of statutory
damages, attorney's fees and low standards for injunctions) rather than
just a simple breach of contract claim. As the court observed:

"Were we to hold otherwise, Blizzard — or any software copyright holder
— could designate any disfavored conduct during software use as
copyright infringement, by purporting to condition the license on the
player's abstention from the disfavored conduct. The rationale would be
that because the conduct occurs while the player's computer is copying
the software code into RAM in order for it to run, the violation is
copyright infringement. This would allow software copyright owners far
greater rights than Congress has generally conferred on copyright

There’s much more to this ruling — for example, the court holds that the
DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions around access controls do not
require some nexus with copyright infringement, contrary to several
other appellate rulings. It’s a worrisome development indeed, and one
that worked against MDY here (the court affirmed liability). This sets
up a conflict between federal appellate circuits, which may eventually
have to be resolved by the Supreme Court.

The issues raised in this trio of cases remain live — Vernor has sought
en banc review, and no decision has issued in the third case, UMG v.
Augusto. We'll report on developments as they occur.

Related Issues: DMCA

Related Cases: UMG v. Augusto"



(GNG is a derecursive recursive derecursion which pwns GNU since it can 
be infinitely looped as GNGNGNGNG...NGNGNG... and can be said backwards 
too, whereas GNU cannot.)

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