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Thread: Blizzard's New Add-on Policy?

  1. #41
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    Again Satrina, you're right that Blizzard can't tell developers how to distribute. But they can choose not to allow addons that use a distribution method they don't agree with.

    The tools to write the software are outside the game, true, but the software is used inside. And that's where they can get you. Once it crosses that boundary.

    It WOULD make some interesting legal precedent though. We'll see.

  2. #42
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    What interests me with regards to this policy change is how they plan on enforcing them.

    At this time there is no guaranteed way to uniquely identify an addon, as there is no blizzard issued addon-id or addon registration process. You could attempt to match up parse trees, but LUA is a simple enough language that it would be fairly trivial to mix in some random garbage code and run the mod through a randomizing obfuscator every time it is downloaded.

    I really can't see this being enforced outside of legal action.
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  3. #43
    Since this is obviously aimed at Carbonite, I like Ciders response that they should just hire the guy if its that good. Personally, I pay the fee and am happy to do so. Gonna suck for me if they drop it and my fee is pfffttt. But it's gonna suck more for Carbonites developer that deserves the fee, and yet still offers a perfectly viable free version, yet now risks a lawsuit. Persoanlly, I donate to all adds I use, cause I'm amazed at all you who do that thing you do, and it improves game play for me.

  4. #44
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    Well, it's Blizzard's property, they have every right to force their rules, if they aren't making money off stuff that is for their product, no one else should be able to make money off it.


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  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eisen View Post
    Again Satrina, you're right that Blizzard can't tell developers how to distribute. But they can choose not to allow addons that use a distribution method they don't agree with.
    This is the absolute essence of what I am saying. There is an important semantic difference between "we say that you may not sell your copyrighted work" and "if you sell your copyrighted work, we'll disable the ability for users to use it". They really should be using the latter in my opinion as it totally evades the issue of copyrights.

    Rennadrel - That's a common attitude and I'm curious where it comes from as it's since it's pretty anti-capitlist and free market. Maybe you're not American, dunno, but by the numbers the number of people who are American that share that attitude is something I find interesting. Besides which, as noted there is a large precedent for profiting on third-party addons and plugins in the software industry. Blizzard doesn't make money directly off of it, but player retention is money earned.
    Last edited by Satrina; 03-23-2009 at 08:09 PM.
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  6. #46
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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.
    They can't say that you can't sell it, but they can damned sure say that if you sell it, they will disable it from working with their game.

  7. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satrina View Post
    This is the absolute essence of what I am saying. There is an important semantic difference between "we say that you may not sell your copyrighted work" and "if you sell your copyrighted work, we'll disable the ability for users to use it". They really should be using the latter in my opinion as it totally evades the issue of copyrights.

    Rennadrel - That's a common attitude and I'm curious where it comes from as it's since it's pretty anti-capitlist and free market. Maybe you're not American, dunno, but by the numbers the number of people who are American that share that attitude is something I find interesting. Besides which, as noted there is a large precedent for profiting on third-party addons and plugins in the software industry. Blizzard doesn't make money directly off of it, but player retention is money earned.
    But just because one company does it (to use your example, Adobe), doesn't mean all companies MUST do it that way. Ultimately, it's Blizzard's game. I don't think I'll get many people teenage-angst sighing at me for that point. And since you pay to use their software and hardware, they can say what you can and can't do with that software and hardware. Just because Adobe has a different model doesn't mean Blizzard has to have the same model.

    I'm not saying your beef isn't valid. I'm just worried that, if this blows up, it's easier for them to just say "To hell with all addons - here's our game, play it the default way or get out", and then we lose everything.

  8. #48
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    Hey folks,

    This is not to infringe on peoples rights,laws or whatever. What is going on >>>> Blizz is seeing an increase in the number of hacks that are occurring and this is one way they see to resolve the issue.

    Key loggers are hiding in numerous addons and its causing alot of problems for both Blizz and gamers alike. These hacks are happening @ a doubled rate increase since Feb. 09 and they have been linked to add-ons and add-on upgrades.

    Just take it for what it is,,,,,jst another way to increase security for gamers and MMo's alike.

  9. #49
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    etakens, I highly doubt these policies will change any of that.
    2) Add-on code must be completely visible.
    What is to stop someone from adding a keylogger into a popular addon, changing it's look a bit and republishing it under a different name?

    I know this hasn't been a big issue but making addon code required to be visible is a bit like blizzard asking for people's hard work for free.

  10. #50
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    So why don't they just make the login process more secure, then? Other games are doing it (I'm playing a free game right now that offers a virtual keyboard during login that you can type your password on, instead of typing it out on the keyboard). If people aren't following safe computing practices and get hacked, that's not Blizzard's fault, and it's not the addon author's fault (unless the addon author is hacked, and doesn't know it, and passes it along, I guess).

    I suppose one thing Blizzard might want to limit is the amount of time they have to spend restoring hacked characters and items/whatever - it costs money and resources to do that, and Blizzard may just be saying "Hey, if they're not going to do their part to secure their accounts, we're no longer going to give up so much of our resources to rescue them" or some such.

    Again, I just have a feeling that the end result of this is not going to be good for us players. Blizzard may not be able to tell Satrina how she can and cannot sell or distribute her mod, but they can tell her, and every other mod author, and in turn, everybody who plays WoW, "OK - you don't want to play by our rules? No more mods period. Default UI or nothing." Then we all lose.

  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mhoram View Post
    So why don't they just make the login process more secure, then? Other games are doing it (I'm playing a free game right now that offers a virtual keyboard during login that you can type your password on, instead of typing it out on the keyboard). If people aren't following safe computing practices and get hacked, that's not Blizzard's fault, and it's not the addon author's fault
    A 'keylogger' doesn't actually log key presses in most cases, it records whats being transmitted from your computer... a virtual keyboard isn't any more safe than a normal keyboard.

    in my opinion, the blizzard authenticator should be sold with every copy of the game, it helps, and if everyone had it... it'd make hackers job a lil harder.
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  12. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satrina View Post
    Nah, don't read more into it than there is. The elite squad of lawyers is not ready to pounce on the first person that steps out of line. That's just the heavy weight backing up the assertions (though there are some potentially scary scenarios in software copyright law that could happen if they ever did go to litigation with the wrong judge.) I'm thinking it's more a lazy CYA move rather than the legal team spending actual time coming up with a reasonable SDK/API agreement.

    Blizzard did go to litigation and won with one of those wrong judges already. They were able to stop a bot program in court. Although I don't want a bunch of bots in WOW I still think that the judge is wrong in his ruling and it sets up Blizzard to be able to stop any add on that they want.

    you can read more about it here. Judge's ruling that WoW bot violates DMCA is troubling - Ars Technica

  13. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaad View Post
    A 'keylogger' doesn't actually log key presses in most cases, it records whats being transmitted from your computer... a virtual keyboard isn't any more safe than a normal keyboard.

    in my opinion, the blizzard authenticator should be sold with every copy of the game, it helps, and if everyone had it... it'd make hackers job a lil harder.
    A keylogger doesn't log keys.

    I'm just gonna work with that for a while. Feel free to carry on.

  14. #54
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    People are still missing the point, no one at any time has argued that blizzard does not have the right to say "this addon is banned." They have made it abundantly clear what they do within their own game is their decision and we all accept that.

    If blizzard wanted to say that there will be no addons allowed period in wow, as someone else mentioned, they are allowed to do that.

    But if an addon author wants to sell his code for something that no one can ever use again under the above condition, how does blizzard have the right to say he cannot sell that code?



  15. #55
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    Wait, what? How did we get into keyloggers and hacks here? The addon system is a sandboxed environment that can not talk to the hosting system, nor can it communicate over any network the host is connected to (except by very specific an controlled means provided in the sandbox). You cannot create a keylogger in an addon, because addons are simply text files that can do nothing outside of the game client. There's no binary executable unless you choose to download one, in which case that is not a WoW addon. In a similar vein, you can't create a "hack", since Blizzard has demonstrated repeatedly that they'll just protect API calls that they don't like the way players are using. You can only do what Blizzard allows you to do in the sandbox. You cannot arbitrarily create new functionality. You cannot create keyloggers and hacks in addons!

    Let me try again. To start with, I agree with the need for this policy. Just as I've become bad cop here to flush out the rules and moderation guidelines because the site as grown to tens of thousands of unique visitors per day and an incredible rate of new posts, Blizzard needs more solid rules about addons now because of the popularity. And we have of course seen the appearance of the cottage industry. We take away from their reaction the simple fact that they don't want for-pay addons. WoW is their game, their playground, and so they get to make the rules we play by. If not having for-pay addons in their game is what they want then that's how it is going to be, and there's no arguing. There are a number of authors crying foul over not being able to make money via their addons. I can sympathise because I know full well the effort involved in creating and maintaining a popular addon, but as above, it's Blizzard's playground and you play by their rules. (This is why I am confused with you Mavfin. We are agreeing yet you keep posting as if we are not!)

    The problem with the rules they have shown us is one of wording. There is a huge semantic difference between "if you sell your addon, it is not authorised for use in World of Warcraft" and "you cannot sell your addon". The former is the rules of the playground. The latter is a direct contravention of copyright law as I understand it, and has potential ramifications in IP and copyright law far beyond WoW. Why not use the mechanisms that are in place already to enforce the playground rules instead of potentially causing a copyright fight down the road? This is the point that a minority of authors is arguing, again with no care whether people get to make money from addons or not. It is purely about the way the policy is delivered and ultimately enforced. And yes, the Glider case becoming a DMCA case is a direct influence on that. The DMCA is not your friend. This has nothing to do with Adobe or anyone else, or the threat of Blizzard pulling addons. It's simply trying to make Blizzard see where we are coming from as professional software developers - we're not lawyers, but most professionals get the basics of copyright and IP law. It really wouldn't hurt to point the concern to the lawyers they have so they can decide if what we're saying has merit or not. Or, as I've said, just make the rules of the playground not even come close to copyright since there's really no need to go down that road using certain terms of the EULA as currently written.

    The only other provision of contention is the 5th one where you may not solicit donations for your addon in game. Again well within Blizzard's right to set rules of the playground, but there are other considerations that make this badly constructed. The rest of the provisions of the policy are for the most part benign - unobfuscated code, ban on advertising, and all of that is nothing that anyone is arguing about at all.
    Last edited by Satrina; 03-24-2009 at 07:00 AM.
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  16. #56
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    The latter is a direct contravention of copyright law as I understand it
    As another illustration, consider this: Blizzard could craft a viral licence in the same style as the GPL where they state that by writing an addon that uses the World of Warcraft client API, you are bound to the stipulation that you may not sell the resulting work. You, the author still retain full ownership and copyright on your work, and the imposition of the no-sell clause is the only restriction you must abide by, etc.

    Great, there's precedent for this sort of viral licencing and all's cool. Except that there is an enormous body of existing addon code that was written under no such licence. Retroactively getting that to apply to the existing code body is a task for the lawyers to sort out, not me. Perhaps they could say that all new addons and new releases of existing addons implicitly agree to this new licence, but I am not a lawyer.

    Or, you say "if you sell your addon, it is automatically an unauthorised third-party mod and thus disallowed under 2.B of the World of Warcraft EULA".

    Why would you go through the trouble of the former, rather than the latter?
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  17. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satrina View Post
    The problem with the rules they have shown us is one of wording. There is a huge semantic difference between "if you sell your addon, it is not authorised for use in World of Warcraft" and "you cannot sell your addon". The former is the rules of the playground. The latter is a direct contravention of copyright law as I understand it, and has potential ramifications in IP and copyright law far beyond WoW. Why not use the mechanisms that are in place already to enforce the playground rules instead of potentially causing a copyright fight down the road?
    As a copyright lawyer in real life, I can say unequivocally that in my opinion putting something in the EULA that says you can't sell your addon would not be enforceable in any way in any common-law country, in the sense that they would have no right to claim that the money belonged to them. They do not have a right to prevent you from selling your code or doing whatever you want with your code. However, I interpret what they said as the less ominous "if you sell your addon it's a violation of the EULA and we will (a) cancel your account and/or (b) disable your addon.

    As for some of the copyright questions in this thread: Your addon is not a derivative work, as it does not include any original code from Blizzard. The fact that it hooks API calls is not good enough (function names are not copyrightable per se). The copyright in that addon is entirely your creation, and even if they put something in the EULA saying that an addon copyright is their property, that's unenforceable because in order to sell ("assign") your copyright (at least in the UK and Canada) you need to actually sign something with a real signature to assign your copyright.

    Also - Gold is not an intellectual property construct that can be enforced via copyright. It can only be enforced through the EULA, which of course you agree to each patch.


    If you still want to get donations for your addon and you want to get around the EULA as I understand it, well, that's easy. For your particular addon, you have a web page. That web page has a link to the "author's playground". On the "author's playground" you post a picture of a cute kitty. You have a link that says "think the kitty is cute? Donate here to support the author's creativity and thank him/her for the cute kitty". When they click on the donation link have a disclaimer that says: "I agree by clicking on this link that this donation is being made directly to (author name or corporation name) and is a irrevocable gift to that author/corporation. This gift is not made for any particular purpose and in particular is not linked to any commercial or artistic endeavour."

    And on the main addon page don't say anything about donations or whatnot. Just put the link.

    You are therefore not supporting an "addon" but rather you are making a personal donation to the author. You could even make scheduled monthly payments to support an author's creativity. Just don't put anything on the "author's playground" page that suggests in any way that this is to compensate the author for an addon or anything else for that matter.

    Of course, they can still ban the addon, but it would be interesting to see how that would hold up in court.

    Metrech

  18. #58
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    Hah, why didn't I just email you about this Met? Duh.

    That's what I am getting at. There is nothing they can put in a EULA that removes an author's right to distribute their work in any way they see fit that would stand up anywhere. However, Blizzard is well within their rights to say "if you sell your copyrighted work, we deem it unauthorised for use in the WoW game client" - correct? Agreed that it is a non-ominous intent and the threat of legal action (actually worded as "up to and including legal action") is simply there to lend weight to the policy's assertions.

    The major problem with restricting donation requests to the webpage is that both Curse and Wowinterface give users the ability to update addons without ever going to the project's page via their own standalone updater clients. There are many users who would never see your kitty. Then you have the jackasses at Wowmatrix who are deep copying from Curse and Wowinterface, adding another layer of abstraction for the user. For the record, the exact restriction is that Blizzard doesn't care if you ask for donations, as long as it is not done in game, so you don't even need the kitty. Poor kitty.

    (thanks for clarifying on Gold and IP)
    Last edited by Satrina; 03-24-2009 at 07:22 AM.
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  19. #59
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    My personal issue with this is that I have previously purchased leveling guides which recently provided in-game mods for you to follow. While I paid for the guides, that also provided me access to these addons which Blizzard will now have the opportunity to disable and I'll lose access to these addons which have significantly enhanced my game experience.

    In this case, is Blizzard shooting themselves in the foot a bit?

    Quote Originally Posted by Turelliax View Post
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  20. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satrina View Post
    That's what I am getting at. There is nothing they can put in a EULA that removes an author's right to distribute their work in any way they see fit that would stand up anywhere. However, Blizzard is well within their rights to say "if you sell your copyrighted work, we deem it unauthorised for use in the WoW game client" - correct? Agreed that it is a non-ominous intent and the threat of legal action (actually worded as "up to and including legal action") is simply there to lend weight to the policy's assertions.
    Blizzard has no obligation to provide you with the ability to mod their game at all, so if they say that if you sell your addon then it's banned, well, there's nothing legally you can do about that. They can't go after your profits though. I'd sure be interested in seeing a case where they try to sue you - although I bet they would go after trade-mark use of Wow icons or graphics or the like.

    I just read more of the thread (it's long!) on the main pages and I see that they want to prohibit donation ads in-game but not on the web pages. Well, so, have your addon pop up something that says "want to see a cute kitty? Go to [url that has picture of kitty]" Same idea. They will still ban your addon of course.

    I think that this is aimed at some of the more amazing addons out there (Carbonite, Questhelper, etc.) and that they will only enforce it against egregious violators. For fun, why not start a campaign where ALL addon developers violate the "no donation requests in game" - see how Blizzard likes disabling every addon that exists.

    I suppose if you really wanted to sue Blizzard or something you could do an action to get a declaration that their policy is a monopolistic attempt to control the addon market and try a Sherman Act claim or something similar. Maybe restraint of trade. I bet they wouldn't like that either.

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