CNet News reports:
A federal appeals court has ruled that computer programmers do not have the right to reverse-engineer Blizzard Entertainment's video games to improve their playability.Video Game Law Blog adds:
The 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis ruled Thursday that federal law--specifically, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act--disallows players from altering Blizzard games to link with servers other than the company's official Battle.net site.
The DMCA, which is supposed to protect copyright without harming innovation, has a clause specifically exempting reverse engineering. But as today's ruling proves, it's far too narrow and weak to protect third-party innovators.EFF adds:
"This ruling is bad for gamers, but it could also be terrible for the software industry," said EFF Staff Attorney Jason Schultz. "It essentially shuts down any competitor's add-on innovation that customers could enjoy with their legitimately purchased products. Add-on innovation is one of the hottest areas of creativity and economic growth right now in software, and this decision will slow investment and development in that field."Finally, from Techdirt:
As some are noting, this seems to go directly against what the backers of the DMCA originally claimed about it: that it would protect copyrights without harming innovation. It's hard to see what this has to do with protecting copyrights however.More: Silicon Valley Media Law Blog (including an excellent background and summary of the case).
June 20, 2005 - Blizzard v. BNETD DMCA Case: Oral Arguments Today.