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Thread: Blizzard's New Add-on Policy?

  1. #61
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    It's a really interesting discussion when you set aside the trolls (on both sides, there are some terrible addon author trolls). I don't disagree with Blizzard's stance that you can't use for-pay addons in a purely "it's your playground" way. I do wonder where it comes from. Perhaps it's a perceived fairness thing.

    One aspect that interests me is the sheer number of people who oppose for-pay addons. I'd love to see their reasoning on that that goes beyond "because blizz said you can't" given that there is well-established precedent in using a public API to create and profit from third-party addons and plugins that cannot exist outside of their host.
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  2. #62
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    Same people who forget that free software is "free" as in speech, not as in beer.

  3. #63
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    This comes up all the time for more than just addons for video games.

    Would you pay for an addon for World Of Warcraft if WoW didn't exist? No. So you have to admit that regardless of all your hard work, you "owe" something to Blizzard.

    Blizzard has many options. Honestly I think WoW and Blizzard are big enough to make the iPhone app/game approach work. They need to host a site where developers upload addons. Then you can charge whatever you want for the addon. Part of that would go to the developer and part would go to Blizzard. Problem solved.

  4. #64
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    There are also plenty of applications out there with thriving markets in third-party addons and plugins where there is no expectation of profit sharing with the creator of the host, and without the host's existence the addons and plugins would not exist. Photoshop and Poser are two easy examples. This is a known market space with no surprises. The host creator choosing to take a cut or not is just another decision in the process.

    In Blizzard's case UI customisability is an attractor to the game. That results in some number of retained subscriptions, and that translates to the bottom line.
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  5. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satrina View Post
    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!
    1) No, but sites were getting hit with them and passing them on to the users when they downloaded those addons.

    2) Somebody said the reason why they made this change is because keyloggers and hacks were so rampant. It's all in the thread.

    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.
    So what do you, as a professional software developer, do when Blizzard says "Here's the rules, Satrina, ckknight, tekkub, et al. Anybody out there who makes addons - here's our new rules. Oh, you don't want to abide by them? Fine. Here's the new rule: no addons period. Ever. If you can't get the default UI to do it, tough."

    Is that wording better? As you say, it's Blizzard's playground. If they want to change the rules, they have the right to. They also have the right to tell you to go play in someone else's playground if you won't follow those rules. Which route do you think they'll take?

    (As an aside, to clarify my position: I'm not against anyone doing whatever they want with their mods. I'm not a mod author, but I do use several of them (Pitbull, Bartender, Satrina's Buff Frames, Fubar, what have you. If people want to ask for donations, fine with me. If people want to charge for addons, and provide trialware versions for free, I'm good with that. What I, as a user of both Blizzard's game and these addons, is worried about, is that a), if you're gonna go up against Blizzard to either try to get them to change the wording, or fight the rules as they're enforced, you're gonna have to realize you're up against a juggernaut, with immense resources and personnel, so you'd better be ready to go the distance, and b) Blizzard's going to just get tired of this altogether and say "It ain't worth the hassle." That's my concern.)
    Last edited by Mhoram; 03-24-2009 at 10:03 AM.

  6. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metrech View Post
    As a copyright lawyer in real life, (...) 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
    And what I'm saying is that from a technical standpoint, (b) is currently infeasible, and (a) is easy to work around.
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  7. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mhoram View Post
    1) No, but sites were getting hit with them and passing them on to the users when they downloaded those addons.

    2) Somebody said the reason why they made this change is because keyloggers and hacks were so rampant. It's all in the thread.
    1) Is completely out of Blizzard's purview, and is not their problem to deal with.
    2) Is completely nonsensical since addons can do none of these things, which Blizzard knows full well as they designed the system.

    Not one element of the addon development policy will have any effect whatsoever on either of those two things.

    So what do you, as a professional software developer, do when Blizzard says "Here's the rules, Satrina, ckknight, tekkub, et al. Anybody out there who makes addons - here's our new rules. Oh, you don't want to abide by them? Fine. Here's the new rule: no addons period. Ever. If you can't get the default UI to do it, tough."

    Is that wording better? As you say, it's Blizzard's playground. If they want to change the rules, they have the right to. They also have the right to tell you to go play in someone else's playground if you won't follow those rules. Which route do you think they'll take?
    Blizzard knows full well that UI customisability is a major attractor for WoW and results in retained subscriptions. Once again, the argument is not with the spirit of the rules, it's in the proposed execution. Blizzard also knows by long interaction with some of us that we aren't just talking to hear our own voices. You make them out to be potentially unreasonable, which is very far from the truth.

    We aren't "going up against Blizzard" here. They're going to do what they are going to do, and whatever they decide is what's going to be. We're pointing out what we perceive as the problems in their plan as shown to us. How is this any different than, say, the Tanking Topics articles? It isn't. If they read what we're saying and go "hey, they make a good point", then it was all worth it. If not, life goes on.
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  8. #68
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    So you're expending all this energy, bringing up copyright law, all of this... Just to have a friendly debate.

    OK. So maybe you shouldn't be so dismissive of other people when they post conflicting views. If this is all a friendly debate.

    What's nonsensical to you is obviously important enough to someone, and it should be treated as such.

    Eh, I've made my points. I'm out.
    Last edited by Mhoram; 03-24-2009 at 10:47 AM.

  9. #69
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    Well, perhaps friendly debate isn't the right term. There is a potential right now for Blizzard to end up in litigation with a term in their EULA that tries to override an author's copyrights. There is enough implication for ripple effect throughout the industry there to scare anyone.

    I am not indending to be dismissive and if I have come across that way, I do apologise.
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  10. #70
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    not sure why everyone keeps saying your paying for carbonite casue i use it and ive ever payed nor donated for it i got it free of charge sorry had to put my 2 cents in lol

  11. #71
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    After a quick read thruogh this thread... it does not say that you can not ask for donations on your website.......just not in the add-on. Just if you require pay to use they will disable.

  12. #72
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    in order to get the full version of carbonite, they force you to pay. Blizz doesn't want them to be able to offer "pay for better" services.

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  13. #73
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    You actually "subscribe" to have access to the full version of Carbonite. Which has considerably more features than the Free version. I use it, love and gladly "subscribe" to it. Their map and quest tools are so much better than Blizzards it makes it completely worth it to me to do so.
    I have always been happy to support authors for their work for this and many other products/tools/addons/UIs. ( or web sites :P )

    I still really do not understand why Blizzard would care if anyone gets any mula for their work on addons or fansites or info sites that deal with WoW that does not violate the rules.

  14. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Korlong View Post
    And what I'm saying is that from a technical standpoint, (b) is currently infeasible, and (a) is easy to work around.
    Didn't they implement something in 3.0 to disable addons they don't like?

  15. #75
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    I still really do not understand why Blizzard would care if anyone gets any mula for their work on addons or fansites or info sites that deal with WoW that does not violate the rules.
    There could be income and tax reasons, it could be something in response to the Glider decision, or they simply don't want it. It'd be nice if they'd just come along and say "hey, we don't want for-pay addons because of X, Y, and Z".
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  16. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by Metrech View Post
    Didn't they implement something in 3.0 to disable addons they don't like?
    Yes. There's a "bad addons" database file that got added to your WoW install with patch 3.0.8. If they make that so it updates at every login instead of at patch, it's an effective deterrent. Even more importantly, if they place Addon X in that list to prevent it from loading, and the author just renames it to Addon Y to circumvent (though there are like 13 fields, so I doubt it's only by name), then they have given themselves a legal place to start from to proceed through C&D and the like, all the way to litigation if necessary. And there's that word "circumvent" - hello to you DMCA (well, for American users. Your local copyright law may vary)
    Last edited by Satrina; 03-24-2009 at 11:46 AM.
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  17. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by Satrina View Post
    Well, perhaps friendly debate isn't the right term. There is a potential right now for Blizzard to end up in litigation with a term in their EULA that tries to override an author's copyrights. There is enough implication for ripple effect throughout the industry there to scare anyone.

    I am not indending to be dismissive and if I have come across that way, I do apologise.

    Not at all. As you said to me earlier, it's a matter of semantics, and we're all reading it different ways. I'm seeing it was "make what you want, we'll just keep you from loading it", whereas you're seeing, "Don't make it or we'll sue".

    The language is vague enough that either interpretation could be correct, and that's the sort of thing that scares me.

  18. #78
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eisen View Post
    I'm seeing it was "make what you want, we'll just keep you from loading it", whereas you're seeing, "Don't make it or we'll sue".
    Oh no, not at all. That's the problem with posting about this in so many places. Let me find it in the UI and addons forum thread:

    Quote Originally Posted by Satrina
    Do I think that Blizzard is sitting there with the dogs of legal war ready to roll, just waiting for someone to break the terms to go after them? No. The implied threat of legal action merely gives weight to the stipulations. More likely you'd just find your addon in the baddons list and that's that. Will this stop me from working on my addons? No. If I thought there was even a slight chance of the above scenario playing out, I'd stop in principle as others have. I'm confident enough that there's sufficient common sense around that it won't, so on I go.
    (source)

    I am pretty sure that they would probably never get into litigation over addons - who is going to bother to go past the first cease and desist, really? But! If by whatever chance they did, though, the implications of a poor judgement over the policy as written are really bad. As part of that sufficient common sense, I'm doing my best to make sure that Blizzard is aware of our concerns about their policy. Why even take the chance?
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  19. #79
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    I'm with you on that. And I doubt they'd bother either. But they HAVE taken someone to court over 3rd party software (albeit a bot) before, and the verbage is in there to make it possible. The fact that someone's swinging a sword over my head makes me nervous, whether or not I think they'd really use it.

  20. #80
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darksend View Post
    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?
    They can't really enforce that. However, they can make it useless (and therefore worthless to sell) by keeping it from working in-game, and if an author tries to circumvent the features that make his code not work with the game, they can sue him.

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