HL74 Student CaseNotes gives law students the PAID opportunity to write, learn, and publish. This Casenote is submitted by Caitlin Young, second year law student at St. John’s University School of Law.
Blizzard is the creator of a “massive multi-player online role-playing game” called World of Warcraft (WoW). Players advance their characters through 70 levels through participation in quests and battles. Michael Donnelly (MDY) developed a software program called Glider, which is a robot that automatically plays WoW so that a player’s character can be developed through the early levels of the game without the player’s participation. MDY sought a declaration that Glider does not violate Blizzard’s copyrights. Blizzard counter sued for vicarious copyright infringement, violation of DMCA Sections 1201(a)(2) and (b)(1) and tortious interference with contract.
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was adopted in order to conform U.S. law with its obligations under certain international intellectual property treaties. The court held that DMCA Section 1201(a)(2) establishes an independent right of action for copyright owners to prevent copying in circumstances involving devices that circumvent technology that controls access to copyrighted work. The court determined that this is true even when the circumventing device does not enable infringement. The court held that Warden’s purpose was to control access to copyrights elements and since Glider constituted circumvention technology under 1201(a)(2), MDY was determined to be liable under 1201(a)(2). The court affirmed the district court’s entry of permanent injunction against MDY.
The court remanded the case for determination of whether MDY’s conduct was improper under the Restatement Second of Torts for Blizzard’s claim of tortious interference with contract.