Blizzard Responds To Pirate Server Shutdown Controversy By Explaining How Copyright Works

by Mike Futter on Apr 26, 2016 at 03:40 AM

Earlier this month, Blizzard issued a cease and desist to operators of a pirate “vanilla” World of Warcraft server called Nostalrius. The group (and its community) argued that they should have a right to play how they want, and the furor may even have been the cause of an aggressive DDOS attack that took down all Blizzard games shortly thereafter.

Copyright in the United States is a tricky thing. It offers protection to people who create original content and ultimately serves as a way to ensure that someone who creates gets to monetize their work. But that comes at a cost.

It is up to every copyright holder and intellectual property owner to guard their walls. The government hands you a shield by granting trademark and copyright protection, but you must pick it up. If you do not hoist it and in turn willingly let your property be assailed, you may be forfeiting your right to defend it later.

That is the reason that Blizzard gave when finally commenting on the matter publicly. “Why not just let Nostalrius continue the way it was?” writes World of Warcraft executive producer J. Allen Brack. “The honest answer is, failure to protect against intellectual property infringement would damage Blizzard’s rights. This applies to anything that uses WoW’s IP, including unofficial servers. And while we’ve looked into the possibility – there is not a clear legal path to protect Blizzard’s IP and grant an operating license to a pirate server.”

Brack says that Blizzard has been considering ways to offer vanilla servers, however they would be extremely cumbersome and detract from managing the live, current service. The publisher is also looking at “pristine realms” that would strip out advancements like character boosts, friend recruitment bonuses, character transfers, and more. The company won’t move forward on that without a good sense that the community wants it, though.

Blizzard has been in contact with members of the Nostalrius team. No details have been shared about the content of those interactions, but Blizzard is not giving the passionate fans behind the project the cold shoulder.

You can read Brack’s entire statement on Blizzard’s website.

[Source: Blizzard]


Our Take
As I mentioned when we originally covered this, copyright protection is at the heart of the matter. If Blizzard had let this slide, it would have weakened any future attempt to protect its copyright in a similar situation. You might not like United States copyright law, but as long as this is how it works, Blizzard has no choice but to protect itself.