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Thread: Blizzard's New Add-on Policy?

  1. #1
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    Blizzard's New Add-on Policy?

    Attached is a link to Blizzard's new add-on policy which I took a couple of ways. Obviously, any add-on that charges a fee to upgrade or a donation will be disabled. I took this to also state that they could or would disable any add-on even if it is free of charge if they feel that it interferes with realm integrity. I haven't been able to locate a list of all add-ons effected by the change as of yet.


    http://www.worldofwarcraft.com/policy/ui.html
    Quote Originally Posted by Satrina View Post
    Teaslin!

  2. #2
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    The only add-on that you need to pay for that I can come up with is Carbonite or other In-Game Leveling Guides.

    The not asking for donations in the actual add-on part is something I don't agree on but people are still allowed to ask for donations on their websites and the download pages.

  3. #3
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    Carbonite is the first that comes to mind.

    They're probably going to give it some time before they move to disable anything.
    Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. -Seneca
    Everyone marvels at a square egg, but only the chicken understands the PAIN.

  4. #4
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    This really sucks, I love Carbonite and I am quite happy to pay the programmer that keeps it updated and all of its features working. I am not sure why they really care about the payment/donation part. Its not like Blizzard is losing money when we pay for an addon that does something they do not offer a product for in game. Or is this just a liability step for them..

    Is the next step against fan sites that are not 100% profit free? =o

    World of Warcraft User Interface Add-On Development Policy
    With the continuing popularity of World of Warcraft user interface add-ons (referred to hereafter as "add-ons") created by the community of players, Blizzard Entertainment has formalized design and distribution guidelines for add-ons. These guidelines have been put in place to ensure the integrity of World of Warcraft and to help promote an enjoyable gaming environment for all of our players - failure to abide by them may result in measures up to and including taking formal legal action.

    1) Add-ons must be free of charge.
    All add-ons must be distributed free of charge. Developers may not create "premium" versions of add-ons with additional for-pay features, charge money to download an add-on, charge for services related to the add-on, or otherwise require some form of monetary compensation to download or access an add-on.

    2) Add-on code must be completely visible.
    The programming code of an add-on must in no way be hidden or obfuscated, and must be freely accessible to and viewable by the general public.

    3) Add-ons must not negatively impact World of Warcraft realms or other players.
    Add-ons will perform no function which, in Blizzard Entertainment's sole discretion, negatively impacts the performance of the World of Warcraft realms or otherwise negatively affects the game for other players. For example, this includes but is not limited to excessive use of the chat system, unnecessary loading from the hard disk, and slow frame rates.

    4) Add-ons may not include advertisements.
    Add-ons may not be used to advertise any goods or services.

    5) Add-ons may not solicit donations.
    Add-ons may not include requests for donations. We recognize the immense amount of effort and resources that go into developing an add-on; however, such requests should be limited to the add-on website or distribution site and should not appear in the game.

    6) Add-ons must not contain offensive or objectionable material.
    World of Warcraft has been given a "T" by the ESRB, and similar ratings from other ratings boards around the world. Blizzard Entertainment requires that add-ons not include any material that would not be allowed under these ratings.

    7) Add-ons must abide by World of Warcraft ToU and EULA.
    All add-ons must follow the World of Warcraft Terms of Use and the World of Warcraft End User License Agreement.

    8) Blizzard Entertainment has the right to disable add-on functionality as it sees fit.
    To maintain the integrity World of Warcraft and ensure the best possible gaming experience for our players, Blizzard Entertainment reserves the right to disable any add-on functionality within World of Warcraft at its sole discretion. For more information...

    If you are an add-on developer and have any questions about and this User Interface Add-On Development Policy and how it pertains to the add-on that you've developed, please don't hesitate to email us at WoWUI@blizzard.com.

  5. #5
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    Sucks

  6. #6
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    I'm not a lawyer, but I'm pretty sure #1 is pretty damn close to telling me what I can and cannot do with my copyrighted works, if it isn't a violation of law as it is written. I don't have a means for people to donate for my addons, but that pisses me off in principle and in potential future precedent. If Blizzard wants to say "we'll disable your addon if you are selling it" that's one thing - it's their sandbox and they can set the rules to whatever they like. Telling me that I cannot exercise my law-given rights if I choose to is not cool.

    I wrote a longer thing about it here: World of Warcraft - English (NA) Forums -> WoW UI Add-On Development Policy

    The entitlement mentality of the average player makes you wonder why you even bother.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satrina View Post
    If Blizzard wants to say "we'll disable your addon if you are selling it" that's one thing - it's their sandbox and they can set the rules to whatever they like.
    I'm pretty sure this is targeted at Carbonite and Questhelper, for two examples. On the legal rights question, that's why they said you can't ask for donations in-game, but won't say anything outside of it. Also, since it's theirs, they have the right to disable any addon to the game that does *anything* they don't want done with addons, or 'pay' addons. It's just like the scripted stuff that existed in vanilla. If they think it's causing people to play the game in ways they don't want, they'll kill it. They own it, they can do whatever they want with addon functionality. You agreed to it in the ToS/EULA.

  8. #8
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    You wrote that just to agree with what you quoted?
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  9. #9
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    #3 combined with #8 bother me.

    They're too vague, too much room open there. Blizz could shut down anything of mine for any time just because they want to. What constitutes "negatively impacting WoW or other players"?

    Questhelper gives people with it an edge in questing over those without. So does Lightheaded. Auctioneer can give you an edge in buying and selling. Omen gives raiders an edge over the default Blizz threatmeter, which is fairly weak. Necrosis showing my lock popups when certain effects proc (nightfall, SS shard) is an improvement over having to watch your buff frames.

    Frankly, from a certain point of view, any addon that improves/alters the UI could potentially put players that have it at an advantage to those without. Is that negatively impacting? Will Blizz disable ALL addons except some tiny few they themselves sanction? The possibilities here are endless. And annoying. I suspect it's more an attempt at removing addons that are rl moneymakers for someone or affect game stability, but there's room in there to get all jackboots and goosestepping about any addon they feel like.

    Vague, open ended legal documents worry me.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satrina View Post
    You wrote that just to agree with what you quoted?
    You're talking about your legal rights here. Fact is, you have all the legal rights you want, right up to the moment your code interacts with theirs. Then you don't. It's all in the ToS/EULA. You can write all the code you want, but Blizzard holds all the cards once your code touches their game.

  11. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by mavfin View Post
    You're talking about your legal rights here. Fact is, you have all the legal rights you want, right up to the moment your code interacts with theirs. Then you don't. It's all in the ToS/EULA. You can write all the code you want, but Blizzard holds all the cards once your code touches their game.
    He makes a very valid point. Just like the basic liberties we hold is based on that rule: Your rights end where another's begins.

    It is Blizzard's option and right to impose this new change to the add-on community as it can infringe on their proposed ideals or changes for in-game development. It also gives them a foothold to stand on for future use, but not immediate. There has always been rules and laws that are in effect, but not judged in court like the Sherman Anti-Trust law in the late 1800s. Never really implemented effectively until Roosevelt deemed it necessary.

    Sorry about the history portion, but it's a fair example.
    Abyssul's UI, please comment or download.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by mavfin View Post
    You're talking about your legal rights here. Fact is, you have all the legal rights you want, right up to the moment your code interacts with theirs. Then you don't. It's all in the ToS/EULA. You can write all the code you want, but Blizzard holds all the cards once your code touches their game.
    Neither the Terms of Service or EULA say any such thing. Even if it did, you do not lose your copyrights in the case of your code interacting with an API - that's a fundamental, upheld in court several times, and Blizzard would be looking at setting new copyright precedent to claim otherwise. They might go for the derivative work angle, but that would set an incredibly bad precedent for all software with exposed API, and would likely not fly.

    Look at Photoshop, GIMP, Firefiox and any number of other software packages that grant the usual non-exclusive licenses and support third-party addons/plugins. Lots of people make their living writing such plugins. The fact that Blizzard does not have a comprehensive licensing agreement for addons is the issue at hand here. They're apparently trying to make one, but doing a piss poor job of it.
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  13. #13
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    The ToS does say

    [You may not] use cheats, automation software (bots), hacks, mods or any other unauthorized third-party software designed to modify the World of Warcraft experience
    They're perfectly free to declare any given addon as unauthorised third-party software and disable it in the game, per this agreement. Saying that an addon author may not sell their work is way out of line unless they do get a ruling that addons are derivative works.
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  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nez View Post
    Is the next step against fan sites that are not 100% profit free? =o
    We have to follow the same principle outlined here.

    Take our paid movie downloads, for instance. We could not offer this service unless we also offered them for free and in a format which can be viewed without registering for our website. We do this via YouTube. I would not be able to keep fansite status if I took our movie collection off of YouTube and made it donor-only.

    It's a tough balancing act.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satrina View Post
    The ToS does say



    They're perfectly free to declare any given addon as unauthorised third-party software and disable it in the game, per this agreement. Saying that an addon author may not sell their work is way out of line unless they do get a ruling that addons are derivative works.

    Yeah it just irritates the bejesus out of me. The fact that Blizz has ALWAYS been pretty cool about 3rd party addons, and actually encouraged them in some instances, has been something I like about them. They haven't said what their definitions of harmful addons are, so that's what I'm waiting for. I just don't want to see my own UI designs (or the great addon work of people like yourself) suddenly removed.

    Even though it's legally in their right to cancel any addon at any time means I'm happy about the possibility that they will start doing so.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satrina View Post
    Neither the Terms of Service or EULA say any such thing. Even if it did, you do not lose your copyrights in the case of your code interacting with an API - that's a fundamental, upheld in court several times, and Blizzard would be looking at setting new copyright precedent to claim otherwise. They might go for the derivative work angle, but that would set an incredibly bad precedent for all software with exposed API, and would likely not fly.

    Look at Photoshop, GIMP, Firefiox and any number of other software packages that grant the usual non-exclusive licenses and support third-party addons/plugins. Lots of people make their living writing such plugins. The fact that Blizzard does not have a comprehensive licensing agreement for addons is the issue at hand here. They're apparently trying to make one, but doing a piss poor job of it.
    Still, if you're gonna go up against Blizzard, you're gonna need to have a darn good lawyer... You know they have a full stable of 'em ready to go whenever they need to.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eisen View Post
    I just don't want to see my own UI designs (or the great addon work of people like yourself) suddenly removed.
    As I said in the post I linked earlier, I think that the policy is using threat of legal action to ensure that some asshat won't just keep renaming his addon to keep getting around the addon disabling mechanism they added in 3.0. Why they don't just look to one of the very well-developed third-party addon agreements that are out there as a model is beyond me, though.
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  18. #18
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    I don't like it, either (as a matter of principle, not that it affects me personally), but section 1 of their terms of use says explicitly that:

    Subject to your agreement to and continuing compliance with the Terms of Use agreement, you may use the Service solely for your own non-commercial entertainment purposes by accessing it with an authorized, unmodified Game Client. You may not use the Service for any other purpose, or in connection with any other software.
    The non-commercial part should be sufficient to allow them to enforce the "no charge" requirement (as well as the "no advertisements" and "no donation requests" in the addon requirements).

  19. #19
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    I don't know about the mods available out there that they're aiming this at. There's been a lot of mention of Carbonite, though, and some other leveling guides.

    If it's really aimed at Carbonite, I don't understand why this was their response, rather than hiring the guy or developing a better leveling system of their own. Carbonite and Quest Helper both are amazing mods and -- perhaps more importantly -- are what keeps the leveling process up to date w/ newer MMOs that already implement these features.

  20. #20
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    That's the missing piece for me. There are plenty of third-party addon models out there, both free, for-pay and a mix of both that work and have worked for years that there's no logical argument that Blizzard is using the policy as a means to prevent being sued or whatever. What was so threatening about Carbonite and the other for sale levelling addons?

    The no ingame donations thing is a douche move really. Well, sort of. Yeah, I can see not wanting popups that annoy people. I don't see why a static string in the options panel for your addon would be so evil. But anyway - ooh yeah, you can put your donation button on your website, yay! Even wowinterface and curse provide updaters so you never see the author's page, nevermind the wowmatrix jerkoffs who are not based in the US, so C&D and other legal threats have even more hurdles to jump. It's effectively saying no donations either, even if it is unintentional.
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