Blizzard wins $88.5 million World of Warcraft lawsuit

Legal action against private-server operator nets MMORPG developer-publisher a hefty payday in court.

by

As of May 2009, Blizzard Entertainment was earning over $100 million per month on overall game sales and subscription fees from its massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft. Last week, that title netted the Irvine, California-based developer and publisher another major payday--of the legal variety.

$88 million buys a lot of mount accessories.

On August 11, Blizzard scored a major victory in a copyright infringement lawsuit against Alyson Reeves, operator of the now defunct PC game site Scapegaming. Blizzard filed the suit in October 2009 after discovering that the PC gaming site was making a profit by operating a private World of Warcraft server. The only legitimate WOW servers are owned and operated by Blizzard, which contended that Scapegaming's material gains were ill-gotten.

Judge Margaret M. Morrow of the California Central District Court agreed with Blizzard and levied a hefty penalty on Scapegaming. The site's owner, Alyson Reeves, must pay blizzard $3,052,339 in disgorged profits, $85,478,600 in statutory damages, and $63,600 in attorney fees. Reeves will also have to pay interest on the outstanding balance of the fines until they are paid in full.

The WOW legal decision comes in between the publisher's two major releases of the year. Three weeks ago, the company released Starcraft II: Wings of Liberty, which became the fastest-selling strategy game of all time by shifting 1.5 million units in 18 hours. Later this year, it will ship the third expansion for World of Warcraft, Cataclysm.

Discussion

481 comments
roganth
roganth

Don't worry Blizzard you'll get your money, she's put up a few starcraft 2 servers to pay you off

shooters125
shooters125

Does that guy even have that much money?

Szeiden
Szeiden

Well that's the end of Alyson Reeves' life. What can one do when perpetually in debt? Makes me sad that this person is going to live a tortured existence while wealthy bank executives responsible for the suffering of millions of working class people roam free. Not only roam free, but even continue to pay themselves enormous salaries...

jhpeter
jhpeter

I´m with Blizzard on this, but the amount is too big, I can´t imagine how this little site will pay even 1 million.

dg3215
dg3215

Yea blizzard has every right to go after money that this person basically stole from them I am glad that they won, I hope she has to go to jail because she can't pay them. After all if you just stoll millions of dollars from a business you would be in jail for a few minutes.

bmwz4y
bmwz4y

Heck, I played on Scapegaming for a while back then and it really annoyed me how they kept on going offline and having unstable servers .............and saying that they needed money to fund the servers fees and it turned out that more than 5000 players paid to them so they gain (Epic gear) then it's all down to her. I say if u start making profit of others work then u should pay for it someday. BTW : I still play on both Blizzard and private servers but i don't pay for private servers at all not even 1$

Kabals
Kabals

What she did was wrong, but that fine is completely out of whack. No worries; Blizzard will NEVER see that money. There is no way in hell that'll ever be paid.

angie_200
angie_200

Leave it to blizzard to destroy someones life just for the fun of it

angie_200
angie_200

Leave it to blizzard to destroy someones life just for the fun of it

WillyChong
WillyChong

88 millions, thats a lot of cash. But banning private server is not always a solution. I once own Wow but it just too expensive to keep on playing, a monthly fee of RM 129(USD 30)!!! Private server helps to keep a game community buy that game without the need of additional monthly fee, which burden lots of gamers. My friends played Wow private server in campus, its free of any charge. And most of them own legal copies to keep their fan spirit alive without burden their parents furthur. I'm a Starcraft fan but Wow is not my cup of tea......

Sonsu
Sonsu

Court fines cannot be discharged through bankruptcy. The only way she can get out of this is through a lucky lotto ticket. Oops, nevermind, can't buy a lotto ticket cause every penny goes to Blizzard. She might as well just slave herself out to them for the rest of time.

homestarmy6
homestarmy6

I'm glad i don't owe anyone 88.5 million dollars...

CYBORG_00
CYBORG_00

I used to play there. Non-blizzard fanboys trust me on this one, that money hungry b*tch deserved it. Oh boy did she.

-Unreal-
-Unreal-

Good job Blizzard. You're my hero!

Jah_Glow
Jah_Glow

She should have thought twice before not only breaking the law, but trying to make money off of someone else's work. I'd say it's pretty fair justice.

Blazember
Blazember

blizzard fanboys dedicated with every fibre of their weak beings to blizzard as always

valdagesh
valdagesh

(continued) And personally I could care less what anyone else thinks in defense of blizzard, they could have sent her a warning an a demand of the profits she illegally earned, but no they had to take her to court an totally screw the crap out of her life. And besides, WoW is the most overrated piece of garbage on the net, they create more & more violent obsessive lowlifes just by allowing people to play this dumb game. If they truly want people to stop making private servers of WoW, they could have made 2 variations of accounts - One free but limited, an the other monthly pay with full features, an seriously ask yourselves, "What has Blizzard truly lost compared to all their paying customers that give them 100's of millions?' and if you don't know the answer - look for the WoW members list and then times that number by 15 to 20, then times that by 12 and then subtract that amount with the money she made, then you've found the answer - screw you blizzard!

valdagesh
valdagesh

Seriously??? That is completely ridiculous & evil for Blizzard and The Courts to expect ONE person to pay $88,594,539 plus interest!! Oh dear god Blizzard, you are making $100 Mil a month an you lost a small amount of money because of one person, boo hoo! For crying out loud, if she sued them for $100 Mil, they could toss it off as if it were nothing (eh we lost $100 Mil today, big deal we get it every month, she makes crap in comparison to us). The Law System is truly screwed up! Oh good job judge, you helped out a multi billion rich corporation destroy a SINGLE person's life, obviously you were paid off. In my opinion, she should have been put in jail for 10 or 15 yrs, cause while I do agree that what she was doing is wrong an gives the rest of the pirates a bad name, she deserved to get caught, but she didn't deserve this ridiculous fine (who the hell knows what the interest rate is, it could be over 100 mil for all we know by now). There are good pirates & there are bad pirates - good ones share & don't try to profit from anything they get, Alyson falls into category of bad pirates to think they can profit from it & get away with it (duh! you will always get caught if you profit from it).

Matdredalia
Matdredalia

@Philly1Uper - I'm sure there are plenty of people here who have pirated music. But I doubt any of them are selling bootleg CD's & MP3's and making over $3mill off of it. Seriously, you can't even compare this situation.

Spartan138-Dirk
Spartan138-Dirk

i fear for her, cuz if i were her, i'd so kill myself.

choonyos
choonyos

She deserved it, but she'll never have the funds to pay that back. The interest alone couldn't be paid back. Leave the country and get a job in the IT field, she should be o.k., but she definitely deserved it.

Kastigador
Kastigador

I bet she has fled the country with whatever money she could take. She was screwed and she knew it.

rross46
rross46

I just cannot have any sympathy for her. To make so much illegally off of someone elses IP, she was asking for a hammering.

faceless-mask
faceless-mask

Also, as the article provided by chikahiro94 states, she didn't show up in court, which forced the judge to levy the penalty of 85 million dollars on her, meaning that Blizzard did not ask for 85 million + 3 million, it was the court that levied the penalty on her. Blizzard's main reason to take her to court was to shut down her site and to stop her from starting another site, and the heft fine levied against her was just a by product of these actions.

faceless-mask
faceless-mask

What a large number of people, who have decided to bash Blizzard after reading the article's headline and not the article itself, don't realize is the fact that she was using her site to make a profit using Blizzard's intellectual property. There are other private servers around which are free to play and do ask for donations to keep the site running, but Blizzard probably doesn't bother themselves with these servers because: a)They are not trying to make a profit for themselves, and b)These servers are probably so bug ridden that not many people would have wanted to play on the servers anyway. Unlike these servers, WoWscape was not only taking donation from people who used it to play WoW, but they were also modifying the game themselves and then offering people the chance to buy these modifications for themselves, modifications like items and quick level ups which were not approved by Blizzard. Both of these acts were against the law, meaning that Blizzard could have sued the site for 2 separate reasons, and most likely, they would have won the 2nd case too. The fact that they only sued her for making a profit off their property show's that they aren't after her money. And to all of you who say that she should have been made to pay just the 3 million, the 3 million she hap to pay was proven to be the minimum profit she made from her server. So there is a possibility that she made more money than just the 3 million.

peterfaj
peterfaj

I wonder how much she would have to pay if her servers were free. She's probably pretty bankrupt already, but I guess if she didn't make money with her WoW servers, she'd be in an even worse situation. That would not be right.

Soccer8642
Soccer8642

It's not blizzard's fault. They didn't ask for that much. They just proved they ripped them off of $3mil and let the court decide what to do with that fact. The court was just following the law and pre-defined equations when they worked out the damages. It's not blizzard's fault, it's not the court's fault. They were both following the law, unlike Alyson. It's a lot, and she doesn't deserve that much, but that's what the law says, so stop flaming blizzard

ChoiMein
ChoiMein

@Philhellene you are correct.. capitalism is broken... you are also wrong though... socialism is not the answer... free markets (in theory) are the best form of market/industry blah blah blah... the less that government is sticking their fingers in peoples business, the less problems there would be...

methodium
methodium

I dont necassarily agree with what she did ( how she set up a WoW server in the first place baffles me ) but I think the money owed doesnt need to be that high an amount . the game pulls in a billion a year ...nuff said

Cwagmire21
Cwagmire21

@m_bd89 You do realize Blizzard will not see $88 million from this woman? This was enacted so that it would bankrupt her private server company completely. Using your example of "life plus 40 years" is doing the same. It's ensuring they never get out of jail and in this instance, it ensures that she will never get that company afloat again.

petica89
petica89

@Mr.Douglas lol great PR? i cant imagine guys on retail running around with +1000 to all stats tabards in stormwind lol

TimADugan
TimADugan

Here's the part of the story no one's bothering to report BTW: this was a default judgment. That means the defendant never bothered to show up in Court to defend herself, show Blizzard's numbers on her profits were incorrect, why the statutory damages shouldn't apply to her company, etc. She had her day in Court, she decided not to bother. When you do stuff like that, this happens. It's very possible that NOW she'll ask the Court to reopen the case and give some BS reason for not responding before.

Mc1csmo
Mc1csmo

They'll never see it all.

Blink3r
Blink3r

OMG... now that's a lot of money... Guess she deserved it...

Link3301
Link3301

@alchemist889 it was probably that the person was charging a subscription fee

MrDouglas
MrDouglas

rather than suing, they should have given this lady a job at Blizzard, would have been great pr.

alchemist889
alchemist889

A lot of free servers let you pay for status or items in-game. I wonder what set this one apart?

minty_cbo
minty_cbo

good for blizzard..lmao..uh no... world of warcrap should be free by now to play aslong as you buy the damn game..i hate pay to play..besides..WoW sucks... next from blizzard ..WoD:world of diablo

RussianRAGE
RussianRAGE

I should friggn sue Blizzard for the fact that its because of them that i've never gotten laid. >: (

Philly1UPer
Philly1UPer

When it comes to the people saying "Good for Blizzard, bla, blah blah" Im pretty sure mostly 98% of people on this website has entire musical libraries on their iPods and computers downloaded illegally.

chikahiro94
chikahiro94

Update from another website: http://arstechnica.com/gaming/news/2010/08/the-88-million-server-private-wow-server-op-loses-big.ars What's interesting is the lady never bothered to show up in court, and the damages amount? Its the minimum required by law! ------------------- "In fact, the statutory damages were low, according to the court. The $200 fine per circumvention is a statutory minimum, and in this case it was multiplied by 427,393 users. "To the extent that this figure appears unreasonably large, Congress has mandated this approach and the Court is unable to deviate from it," the judgment explained." -------------- Gamespot needs to update the story and add that bit of information. YOU CAN'T BLAME BLIZZARD FOR THE AMOUNT IF THE COURT IS FOLLOWING THE LAW. @fillup0 No, it was for-profit.

Hydrolix
Hydrolix

@zeerusX Blizzard wasn't awarded punitive damages, read the article.

Hydrolix
Hydrolix

@fillup0 you apparently didn't read the article. "The site's owner, Alyson Reeves, must pay blizzard $3,052,339 in disgorged profits."

fillup0
fillup0

@decoy1978 She wasn't profiting from it, it was offered for free.