April 8, 2002

EFF: Blizzard freezes bnetd gaming platform, sues own customers

Game maker Blizzard Entertainment, along with
its parent company Vivendi Universal Games, late Friday
sued a small Internet Service Provider and its owner for
distributing free software that emulates Blizzard's free
Battle.net gaming service.

The lawsuit claims that the creation and offering of the
"bnetd" free software emulator for Blizzard games violates
copyright and trademark laws.

"Blizzard contacted our lawyer at the Electronic Frontier
Foundation (EFF) saying they would consider dropping the
case if we help find ways to prevent pirates from using the
bnetd server software," noted Tim Jung, Internet Gateway
ISP owner of the and defendant in the case. "While we bnetd
developers spent many hours last week trying to help
Blizzard, they apparently spent many hours preparing to sue
me and my small business."

"The complaint is a classic big corporate attempt to scare
the little guy," noted EFF Senior Intellectual Property
Attorney Fred von Lohmann who represents Jung and Internet
Gateway pro bono. "This software was developed by hobbyists
using longstanding, legal reverse engineering techniques --
the same ones used by major hardware and software
manufacturers. If bnetd is vulnerable to copyright
challenge, then most reverse engineering projects designed
to create interoperable products, from games to printers to
network cards, are also vulnerable."

"The bnetd software has many uses that have nothing to do
with piracy, and everything to do with improving the gaming
experience for legitimate purchasers of Blizzard games,"
added EFF Legal Director Cindy Cohn. "Suing your customers
for making your product more fun to play is a poor use of
corporate resources, as well as unfounded by law."

The bnetd software allows Blizzard game purchasers online
or on a local area network to chat, find competition, and
start multiplayer games. A group of volunteers, including
Jung, created the bnetd project for Blizzard games because
Blizzard's Battle.net service was undependable and had
limited functionality.

Blizzard sent a cease-and-desist letter to Internet Gateway
in late February, claiming violations of the
anti-circumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium
Copyright Act (DMCA) along with copyright violations.
Internet Gateway has removed the bnetd software temporarily
in response to the letter. The current complaint does not
claim DMCA violations, but instead adds trademark claims
never mentioned before.

This case, entitled "Davidson & Associates dba Blizzard
Games and Vivendi Universal Games v. Internet Gateway and
Tim Jung," was filed in Federal District Court in St.
Louis, Missouri.

Blizzard's complaint against Jung and Internet Gateway:
http://www.eff.org/sc/bnetd/20020405_blizzard_complaint.pdf

Earlier correspondence and other case material:
http://www.eff.org/sc/bnetd/

For this release:
http://www.eff.org/sc/bnetd/20020408_eff_bnetd_pr.html

Bnetd website:
http://www.bnetd.org

Blizzard's explanation:
http://www.battle.net/support/emulationfaq.shtml

Earlier media coverage and websites related to the case:
http://www.eff.org/sc/bnetdcoverage.html
http://www.infoworld.com/articles/op/xml/02/03/11/020311opsource.xml
http://www.boycottblizzard.org/
http://research.yale.edu/lawmeme/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=149

About EFF:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the leading civil
liberties organization working to protect rights in the
digital world. Founded in 1990, EFF actively encourages and
challenges industry and government to support free
statement, privacy, and openness in the information
society. EFF is a member-supported organization and
maintains one of the most-linked-to websites in the world at
http://www.eff.org/

About Internet Gateway:

Founded in 1995, Missouri-based Internet Gateway provides
Internet and networking solutions, as well as consulting
services, to businesses and end users across the country.
Internet Gateway provides Internet access, consulting and
support to other ISPs as well as to its own customers. In
addition to nationwide consulting and support, Internet
Gateway currently provides Internet access to five cities
including the St. Louis metro area, Cape Girardeau,
Sikeston, Perryville and the St. Charles/St. Peters metro
area. The company website can be found at
http://www.igateway.net

About bnetd Project:

The bnetd project is a collaboration focusing on
development of a server that attempts to emulate Blizzard's
Battle.net gaming server. The bnetd project is run by
volunteers and is neither supported by nor affiliated with
Blizzard Entertainment. The project website is at
http://www.bnetd.org

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