Massive judgment in World of Warcraft copyright infringement case

6a00d83451d69069e200e553bb64318834-800wi[1] A federal court has thrown down the gauntlet against the operator of a private server used to play the MMORP game World of Warcraft, awarding Vivendi subsidiary Blizzard Entertainment a staggering $89 million. (Here's the court's order and the final judgment.)

The defendant in the case, Scapegaming, earned about $3 million in profits collecting micropayments from users on the unauthorized network. A third-party WoW fansite calls private servers "shady" and a violation of the game's terms of use, operated to allow players to run around with omnipotent powers and cheat the game environment.

Blizzard sued the company and its main operator, Alyson Reeves, last October. The lawsuit followed aggressive action against other third-party operators for violating end-user license agreements in an attempt to profit from the cheating. But decisions by courts, including the latest against Scapegaming, make clear that violations of EULAs on games such as WoW constitute copyright infringement.

In a decision last week, the judge awarded Blizzard $3,053,339 in profits from the improper private server, $63,600 in attorneys fees and a whopping $85,478,600 in statutory damages for willful infringement.

UPDATE: Here's a statement on the ruling from Blizzard:

"In addition to last year’s summary judgment against MDY Industries, LLC, the creator and distributor of a World of Warcraft cheating program, the decision against Scapegaming is further validation of our efforts to vigorously defend our intellectual property rights.

"Our ultimate goal is to create the best games in the world, and that means we need to protect our games and safeguard our players’ experiences with them. Server emulators that use Blizzard’s IP facilitate piracy and offer unauthorized, inconsistent gaming experiences that can damage Blizzard’s reputation and goodwill with players. We take these types of threats very seriously and will continue to take every available measure to protect our rights globally."