Author Sues Game Maker For DMCA Misrepresentation
This story has been updated. Original CopyCense coverage: March 28, 2006.
An independent writer who has been prohibited from selling an unofficial guide to the popular online game World of Warcraft because of the manufacturers’ repeated takedown complaints under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act has sued the game makers, claiming their DMCA takedown notices are a misrepresentation of copyright infringement.
Brian M. Kopp, a writer located in Bronson, Fla., filed the lawsuit late last week in a California federal court after Blizzard Entertainment (the creator of World of Warcraft) repeatedly filed DMCA takedown notices with eBay, where Kopp was trying to sell his book via auction. After eBay blocked two different accounts Kopp had used to sell the book because of repeated DMCA takedown notices, Kopp filed his lawsuit. He is being represented in court by Public Citizen, the Ralph Nader-founded consumer watchdog group.
Under Section 512(g)(1) of the Copyright Act, an online service provider such as eBay can clear itself of potential copyright infringement liability if, in response to a party’s claim that a Web site contains infringing materials, that ISP immediately removes the materials. Pursuant to Section 512(g)(3), a party’s whose information was removed can have the service provider reinstate that information if that party “has a good faith belief that the material was removed … as a result of mistake or misidentification …”
EBay has a policy whereby the online auctioneer may remove a listing or otherwise disable an account if a Verified Rights Owners (VeRO) complains that a listing infringes on its intellectual property. This is what occurred with Kopp’s books. One of Kopp’s legal claims, however, is that Blizzard and its co-defendants violated Section 512(f) by “knowingly and materially misrepresenting that Kopp’s book violated their copyrights. Section 512(f) makes it illegal to “knowingly materially misrepresent … that material is infringing …” A violation for Section 512(f) can include can lead to damages, costs, and attorneys’ fees.
Gaming guides have become big business. A New York Times article cited on CopyCense™ two weeks ago noted that gaming guides can sell hundreds of thousands of copies. The books typically provide insights and clues on how best to succeed at playing a particular video game. According to a more recent News.com report, World of Warcraft has now attracted a following of 6 million subscribers worldwide since it debuted in 2004.
Kopp’s book had sold several hundred copies on eBay, said the News.com report; the complaint says the book is still available for sale from Kopp’s Web site.
Anne Broache. ‘Warcraft’ Maker Sued For Blocking Sales of Unofficial Guide. News.com. March 24, 2006.
Related Stories & Documents:
- U.S. District Court, Central District of California. Complaint for Misrepresentation Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act … and Declaratory and Injunctive Relief. (.pdf) March 23, 2006.
- CopyCense. Games Give Authors New Revenue Stream. March 7, 2006.
- Anne Broache. Blizzard Abandons DMCA Threat over ‘WoW’ Manual. News.com. June 9, 2006
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