'League of Legends' Game Publisher Targets Hackers and Cheaters in Lawsuit

To protect a competition played by 67 million people, Riot Games is asserting a copyright violation.
Courtesy of League of Legends; Courtesy of Lionsgate

Anyone caught doping at this year's Olympic Games in Rio will be punished. But at least these athletes won't be in trouble for violating copyright law. The same can't be said of those in the eSports arena, whose performance-enhancing methods are increasingly spelling lawsuits.

The latest piece of litigation comes from Riot Games, the publisher of League of Legends, which counts some 67 million competitors. Even some entertainment executives have a franchise and the TV ratings for the League of Legends world championship — 27 million people — rival NBC's Olympics viewership.

According to a complaint filed in California federal court, however, the League of Legends player experience is under "near constant attack by cheaters, hackers, scammers, and other wrongdoers," including from the operators of a service called "LeagueSharp" ("L#").

"Among other things, L# enables its users to abuse LoL by allowing them to, for example, see hidden information; 'automate' gameplay to perform in the game with enhanced or inhuman accuracy; and accumulate levels, experience, and items at a rate that is not possible for a normal human player," states the complaint.

Riot Games reports in its lawsuit that it tried to resolve the lawsuit without litigation, but the alleged act of hacking and cheating is apparently becoming quite sophisticated.

"Defendants refused to respond," states the lawsuit. "Then, Defendants or those working in concert with them disseminated personal and non-public information about a Riot employee, threatened that employee, and posted offensive comments on the employee’s social media. Additionally, knowing that this lawsuit was imminent, Defendants have been quickly and carefully destroying or concealing evidence such as their most incriminating online posts and purporting to hide behind a Peruvian shell corporation created solely for the purpose of evading liability."

As such, Riot Games is now looking toward the part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act aimed at deterring a hacking of copyright protection systems. Specifically, the game publisher is bringing a claim against three individuals and a company set up in Peru for trafficking in circumvention devices as well as committing unfair competition. Additionally, the game publisher is asserting the "Terms of Use" that players must assent to in participating in League of Legends, accusing the defendants of committing tortious interference. The complaint (read here) was filed on behalf of Riot Games by attorneys at Mitchell Silberberg & Knupp.

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