World of Warcraft creator Blizzard Entertainment won a $6m judgement from the maker of a software bot that allows users to play the wildly popular game while away from their computers.
MDY Industries was ordered to pay the sum last week, following a court finding in July that its distribution of the Glider bot infringed Blizzard's copyrights and constituted tortious interference. Trial is scheduled for January where additional damages could be levied if additional violations relating to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act are found.
Between June 2005 and September of this year, MDY sold about 120,000 Glider licenses, bringing the judgment to about $50 per sale. Blizzard has argued that MDY's behavior was "willful and wanton" and that the company should therefore be required to pay a staggering $2,500 per licence. Over the past three years, Glider has generated about $3.5m in revenue.
Blizzard has long complained that bots like Glider degrade the WoW player experience by giving users an unfair advantage over non-users. Some Glider customers use the software to mine gold and other assets and then sell them for cash on auction sites, Blizzard asserts.
Blizzard has received more than 465,000 in-game petitions from users complaining about bots, "several thousand" of which mention Glider by name, according to court documents. The company spends close to $943,000 per year responding to bot complaints. WoW's user agreement expressly forbids the use of such software.
Glider is the brainchild of Michael Donnelly. It is popular with some WoW players who like the ability to automate tasks such as slaying monsters and collecting gold. At time of writing, mmoglider.com was still distributing the Glider software.
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