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Feature: Open Source

Open Source game server shut down by DMCA

By JT Smith on February 21, 2002 (8:00:00 AM)

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- by Tina Gasperson -
bnetd, an Open Source Blizzard.net game server emulator, has closed up shop, leaving only a brief good-bye message at its Web site, after its ISP received a cease and desist letter from Blizzard Entertainment.

The letter received by Internet Gateway is reprinted below:

February 19, 2002

Internet Gateway Inc.
tjung@igateway.net <mailto:tjung@igateway.net>
noc@igateway.net <mailto:noc@igateway.net>
hostmaster@igateway.net <mailto:hostmaster@igateway.net>

Dear Sir or Madam:

This letter is to notify you, pursuant to the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, that we believe one of your customers is infringing Blizzard Entertainment's, a division of Vivendi Universal Games, Inc. ("VUG"), copyrighted materials. Specifically, Blizzard Entertainment is the owner of the copyright for the computer games Diablo(r) II and StarCraft(r) and the multi-player server software run by Blizzard Entertainment on its Battle.net(r) site. The following site hosts and/or distributes software that violates Blizzard Entertainment's copyright: http://www.bnetd.org/ <http://www.bnetd.org/> The aforementioned site either hosts or distributes software which illegally modifies and/or alters Blizzard Entertainment copyrighted software or bypasses anti-circumvention technology, thereby infringing upon Blizzard Entertainment copyrights. Accordingly, Blizzard Entertainment demands that you act expeditiously to remove, or disable access to, the web page listed above in order for you to claim a safe harbor under the DMCA from liability for contributory and vicarious copyright infringement. Please immediately delete or disable access to this web page and remove its contents from view. Should you have any questions, please contact the undersigned at piracy@blizzard.com <mailto:piracy@blizzard.com> or 949-955-1380 extension 1616. I have a good faith belief that use of the material in the manner complained of is not authorized by Blizzard Entertainment, VUG, its agents or the law, and that the information in this notice is accurate. I declare under penalty of perjury under the laws of the United States of America that I am authorized to act on behalf of all of the aforementioned entities.

Sincerely,
Rod Rigole
Corporate Counsel

Sources close to the bnetd project, licensed under the GNU GPL, say that Rigole told them Blizzard believes bnetd violates the DMCA because the software doesn't require users to enter their games' CD key in order to play, and because of that it is a form of copy control circumvention.

Cached versions of some of the pages are reachable through Google.com, and the files are mirrored and downloadable at CS.NMSU.Edu.

In recent months, Blizzard servers hosting multiple-player games like Diablo had suffered from denial of service attacks that caused poor game performance and a flood of complaints from users. Blizzard responded with this letter to its customers:

We have become aware of the fact that an individual or group has initiated a server attack on both Battle.net and Blizzard's web site. As a result of this illegal activity, many of our customers are having difficulty logging on to the Battle.net game service and accessing Blizzard's web pages. We are in the midst of implementing a solution, but we wanted to let you know that the situation is a direct result of external attacks on our servers, and not a problem with Battle.net's stability.

The FBI and certain European law enforcement agencies have been notified, and we are working in conjunction with them to identify the individual. Attacks on our servers will not be tolerated, and Blizzard fully intends to prosecute those responsible to the fullest extent of the law.

If you have any information about the above activity, please email hacks@blizzard.com.

And in its legal FAQ, Blizzard attempts to forbid emulation of its servers, lending further insight into the attack on bnetd:

Does Blizzard Entertainment® allow or support other Battle.net® like or emulation servers? Can I host one of these rogue servers?

No. Except as set forth in the next paragraph, Blizzard Entertainment® does not support or condone network play of its games anywhere but Battle.net®. Specifically, you may not host or provide matchmaking services for any of our games or emulate or redirect the communication protocols used by Blizzard Entertainment® in the network feature of its games, through protocol emulation, tunneling, modifying or adding components to the game(s), use of a utility program or any other techniques now known or hereafter developed, for any purpose including, but not limited to network play over the Internet, network play utilizing commercial or non-commercial gaming networks or as part of content aggregation networks without the prior written consent of Blizzard Entertainment®.

There is no "next paragraph" as implied above.

Before it was shut down, the bnetd project had 10 listed developers and was above the 95th percentile of activity at Sourceforge.net with a stable product.

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