p2pnet.net News:- Federal law stops videogame firm Blizzard from interfering with gamers’ abilities to create new applications meant to make their experiences more enjoyable, says the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), filing a brief to that effect with the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.
BnetD is an open source program that lets people play popular Blizzard titles such as Warcraft with other gamers on servers that don’t belong to Blizzard’s Battle.net service.
"To create BnetD, volunteer programmers reverse-engineered a protocol in Battle.net, using the information to give players access to the BnetD server," says the EFF.
Blizzard claims this violated a clause in its EULA (End User License Agreement) that forbids reverse-engineering.
But the EFF says federal copyright law, which allows reverse-engineering in cases of fair use, trumps Blizzard’s EULA. "Because the BnetD programmers created a product that is interoperable with Blizzard games, their actions fall squarely within the definition of fair use," it maintains, also arguing the DMCA specifically allows for fair use reverse-engineering.
If the lower court’s decision stands, it would make it unlawful in most cases to reverse-engineer any commercial software program, thus making it impossible to create new programs that interoperate with older ones.
"This squeezes consumer choice out of the marketplace by essentially allowing companies to outlaw competitors’ products that interact with their own," says the EFF.
"If companies are able to use EULAs and the DMCA to eliminate competition in the marketplace, videogame consumers will suffer, as will consumers of electronics in other industries affected by this ruling," says EFF staff lawyer Jason Schultz, who’s working on the case.
The foundation is co-counsel for the defendants in Davidson v. Internet Gateway, currently under appeal from a district court in St. Louis which held that an open-source software gaming server called BnetD was unlawful because its makers violated Blizzard’s EULA and portions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA).
Paul Grewal and Richard Lin are serving as pro bono co-counsel to the BnetD programmers.
Counsel have asked the Eighth Circuit to hear oral arguments in the case, but the court has yet to decide if it will.