“...to crush a 14-year-old would appear to be a step too far.”
November 30, 2017 2:15 PM   Subscribe

Epic Games is suing more Fortnite cheaters, and at least one of them is a minor [Polygon] “In October, Polygon learned that Epic Games had filed suit against two individuals for making and using software that allows players to cheat in the game Fortnite. Since then, the publisher and developer has filed suit against at least nine more individuals, both in the United States and overseas. Unsurprisingly, at least one of them is a minor. We know this because a new and unusual document has been entered into the court record: A sternly worded, and legally savvy, note from his mom.” [Lauren Rogers to the U.S. District Court Eastern District of North Carolina by Polygondotcom on Scribd]

• 14-Year Old Video Game Cheater Sued, Mom Says He's A Scapegoat [Kotaku]
∙She says that Fortnite’s terms require parental consent for minors, and that she never gave this consent.
∙ She says the case is based on a loss of profits, but argues that it’s a free-to-play video game, and that in order to prove a loss Epic would need to provide a statement certifying that Rogers’ cheating directly caused a “mass profit loss”.
∙ She claims that by going after individual players, rather than the websites selling/providing the software necessary to cheat in an online game, Epic is “using a 14 year-old child as a scapegoat”.
∙ She claims that her son did not, as Epic allege, help create the cheat software, but simply downloaded it as a user, and that Epic “has no capability of proving any form of modification”.
∙ Finally, the mother says that by releasing her son’s name publicly in conjunction with the move that Epic has violated Delaware laws related to the release of information on minors.
• Epic Games receives scathing legal rebuke from 14-year-old Fortnite cheater’s mom [The Verge]
“On a grander scale, the lawsuit speaks to the contentious debate around the legal enforcement of licensing agreements and terms of service contracts. Nearly every piece of technology, including both hardware and software, carries with it some type of murky agreement regulating the behavior of consumers, whether it’s to prevent them from modding a video game, jailbreaking a smartphone, or using a product in some way its creators never intended. We agree to these contracts without reading them or even understanding what types of behavior scale from prohibited to illegal. For children with unfettered access to the internet, this is an especially troublesome gray area resulting in a minefield for parents and corporations alike. Cheating at a video game may not be as serious as using Facebook or Twitter to harass or threaten someone, or using programming scripts to participate in a distributed denial of service attack against a government website. But these hacks do have a harmful effect on an online game community by undermining the integrity of a title’s fair and level playing field. ”
posted by Fizz (126 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
14 year old kids are idiots, but yeah go mom. releasing a minors name is fucked up, and while deffo this kid should have his game privileges revoked, getting fucking sued? Or is this a return of the Napster style lawsuits where big companies sue 12 year old piraters for a billion dollars?
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 2:25 PM on November 30 [17 favorites]


The delicious, righteous parent-rage that was flowing through her veins as she wrote that letter must have been far more potent than any high a video game could ever deliver.
posted by gurple at 2:29 PM on November 30 [20 favorites]


Epic seems to have lost their damn minds of late. First they undermine their licensee by releasing a free clone of a game they're presumably getting paid for, now this. Meanwhile, their Unreal Tournament reboot is completely fucking dead. Is that moba still a thing?

This in particular feels like a move that is maybe coming from Tencent.
posted by selfnoise at 2:30 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the litigations of their mothers
posted by poffin boffin at 2:33 PM on November 30 [73 favorites]


Sounds like Epic games just fucked up epically.

I thought companies had learned that suing your customers doesn't usually win you any friends or customer loyalty?

I mean, especially considering that the majority of regular ass people in the United States can't come up with $400 in a pinch without borrowing, it's kind of absurd to think you can get blood from a stone.

So suing fans is bad because its one of the few types of real, genuine, bad PR, and it's also bad because you're trying to get money from people who most likely do not have money. (I mean, he's 14 years old and wasn't monetizing the stream. Does anyone expect him to have money? What the fuck?)

Gosh I want to high five this mom, so bad.
posted by deadaluspark at 2:37 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]


Is her letter really legally savvy and sound? It seems to have a lot of grammar mistakes. I can't judge the legal arguments.
posted by floam at 2:45 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]


I'm not sure this is the same kind of PR problem as usual, because what they're alleging is that this particular set of customers is actively screwing over their other customers and making the game less fun for other people. I'm not a FortNite player but I've got no particular sympathies for people who do this kind of thing. I do think it's financially pointless, certainly.
posted by Sequence at 2:46 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


I thought companies had learned that suing your customers doesn't usually win you any friends or customer loyalty?

The kid admits to cheating. Dissuading cheaters is what most customers of a game want. I mean, suing may be too much, but fuck that kid, he's a cheater.
posted by Groundhog Week at 2:48 PM on November 30 [8 favorites]


The delicious, righteous parent-rage that was flowing through her veins as she wrote that letter must have been far more potent than any high a video game could ever deliver.

It could only have been improved by some superfluous Latin, a little "cogitationis poenam nemo patitur", "de minimis" or "in loco parentis", etc, et al.
posted by GuyZero at 2:48 PM on November 30


I thought companies had learned that suing your customers doesn't usually win you any friends or customer loyalty?

So, there's more to this than "hey, they're suing customers." The people being sued were not just using cheats, but more or less advertising them through videos on YouTube. Epic responded with DMCA takedowns of such videos, since they don't want cheats to be advertised for their games. Several of the video owners filed the counterclaim to have their videos restored, which then forced Epic to sue.

And the thing to remember is these players are actively cheating in a multiplayer game and broadcasting this. They are actively making the experience worse for other players.
posted by NoxAeternum at 2:50 PM on November 30 [16 favorites]


I had the same thoughts as floam. I think her points are all valid and her logic is sound, but I'd be curious if anyone knows how judges or other court officials react to lots of legal jargon being used by laypeople. I'm not criticizing anything about her letter really (I completely agree with her side of the issue) but I'm curious about the linguistic angle here.
posted by mmcg at 2:53 PM on November 30


I'd be curious if anyone knows how judges or other court officials react to lots of legal jargon being used by laypeople

I wonder if they get the same cringe that Youths get when their parents try to meme at them.
posted by poffin boffin at 2:54 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]


I think the company was tone deaf. Maybe it didn't realise they were suing a 14-year-old. Once they figured that out, they should have approached his parent(s)/guardian(s) and talked to them nicely about it. IMHO as a mom.
posted by Bella Donna at 2:55 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


So Epic is suing for copyright infringement over their 'battle royale' mode which is itself an incredibly blatant ripoff of another more popular game? To butcher a quotation, the law in its majestic equality allows both children and corporations to hire teams of intellectual property lawyers to settle their grudges through the courts.
posted by Pyry at 3:01 PM on November 30 [5 favorites]


I think it's worth reading TFA in this case, since it seems the kid was not only (as he admits) using cheats, but actively promoting them to his subscribers. Epic filed a take-down notice for the offending video, the kid contested it, and Epic then had to either file suit or drop the claim (apparently, IANAL).
This is not exactly a case of "big mean corporation fights innocent, aw-shucks youngster". The kid (and clearly his savvy mom) seems to know exactly what he's doing, it does not appear to be an accident or a mistake made of ignorance. I don't know if the dollar value of the suit is reasonable or commensurate...but I don't think it's as bad a PR gaffe as it's being presented as. But I'm not really involved in video game culture, so my read might be off...
posted by Dorinda at 3:01 PM on November 30 [17 favorites]


The whole click to sign TOS thing is such garbage I can't believe it's still persisting.
posted by latkes at 3:04 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


Huh. Fortnite seems to be doing well enough, millions of players, at least on its free to play PUBG, uh, homage. I would have assumed otherwise, these lawsuits are the actions of a company lost and flailing. Still, if I was seriously thinking about starting an indie game project right now, I don't think I would count on the Unreal engine being around and supported in the long haul.
posted by rodlymight at 3:04 PM on November 30


but I don't think it's as bad a PR gaffe as it's being presented as. But I'm not really involved in video game culture, so my read might be off...

No, the feeling I'm getting from things like Checkpoint is that he's a cheater who is trying to wiggle out of being caught.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:05 PM on November 30 [7 favorites]


Suing cheaters is bad PR because it suggests that you have exhausted all technical avenues of actually preventing cheating and have settled for trying to make examples of a few people as deterrence. By suing cheaters you confirm that cheating is widespread and effective.
posted by Pyry at 3:09 PM on November 30 [12 favorites]


I thought companies had learned that suing your customers doesn't usually win you any friends or customer loyalty?

But suing YouTuber dorks who actively popularizing the cheats people are using to ruin the game is worth a whole lot of friendship and loyalty points. Epic is the good guy here.
posted by straight at 3:11 PM on November 30 [5 favorites]


But suing YouTuber dorks who actively popularizing the cheats people are using to ruin the game is worth a whole lot of friendship and loyalty points. Epic is the good guy here.

Is this really how game people feel about this? I get that they didn't exactly go and target a 14-year old with a suit out of nowhere - it appears to be a response to his challenge of the the DMCA takedown - but really using any of this particular set of tools against game cheating doesn't feel right or appropriate to me.
posted by atoxyl at 3:16 PM on November 30 [5 favorites]


I think it's a shit sandwich all around. You have a company trying to police a rampant cheating problem by taking down videos of people using cheating software. But you also have entitled teenagers flouting their illegal behaviour by bragging and live-streaming the activity on YouTube. And then you have a mother getting involved who is obviously worried about what her son did and she's going to be protective as any parent would be. The financial implications are clear and would pass on to her, hence her writing that stern letter. There's a whole lot of ugly in this entire situation. This makes for really bad PR.
posted by Fizz at 3:16 PM on November 30 [6 favorites]


I encourage those of you who want the "reasonable adult gamer" take to watch the episode of Checkpoint linked to above. You won't find a more tolerant, inclusive, progressive group of video gamers than LoadingReadyRun, and they're not treating this as black and white at all.
posted by gilrain at 3:17 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


I should mention they're comedians, though. They're not treating it as black and white, but they're not exactly on the record in their comedy news program I guess.
posted by gilrain at 3:19 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


The second that kid streamed his gameplay while using a cheat, openly bragged about it and offered to show viewers how to do the same (and then contested the DMCA takedown by Epic, which was the nice way of asking him to stop) is the second that I say that kid is a piece of shit and so is his mother for taking up for him.
posted by kuanes at 3:23 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]


...is the second that I say that kid is a piece of shit and so is his mother for taking up for him.

The kid is definitely not my favourite part of this puzzle. But I sort of understand the mother's position. I mean, she's being protective about her son, which is how most parents are and the legal stuff is going to fall on her, so that is also why she's likely worried and concerned about this, so she has no choice but to go all in on defense. Even if she recognizes her son is being a brat (and I have no evidence as to whether this is something she is aware of or not), I get her needing to take this position. As I said, this is a shit sandwich on all sides.
posted by Fizz at 3:26 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


So... she has not been monitoring her 14 year old boy's internet activity and did not consent to the EULA. How much has the kid played? That is a lot of negligence she admitted to.

Followup question: does he play now if it is not sanctioned by his mother?

If he is not playing that game, is he playing any other game which his mother has not consented to?

Lastly, if my kid gets my keys out of the drawer, takes my automobile (sidenote my wife apparently retaliated against a practical joke I made with her and changed the synonym for auto I would have used into monkeymobile) and crashed it into the house next door... would i be responsible - even if I had told him not to explicitly beforehand.

She is right about one thing though, I think she laid out solid logic for Epic to not sue her son... But, I am pretty sure she did provide solid insight into a different party they may want to consider suing...
posted by Nanukthedog at 3:28 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


No sympathy for the kid. Those cheats are 'out there' and 'freely-available' b/c of people just like him. He wasn't just using the exploits but telling others how to use them and using that to drive traffic to a website and a YouTube channel. If he asserts legal rights to keep these things up and public, an adult act, he deserves to have his agency respected and get smacked down with lawyers, like an adult.
posted by cult_url_bias at 3:34 PM on November 30


Even if she recognizes her son is being a brat

No.

Her son is not "being a brat".

Her son is actively degrading the multiplayer experience for other players through the use of cheats such as aimbots. Furthermore, he is then recording their installation and use and broadcasting those recordings, advertising said cheats. This causes active harm to the other players.
posted by NoxAeternum at 3:37 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


On what theory is that illegal, though?
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 3:38 PM on November 30 [11 favorites]


Hmmm, I mean, it just seems willfully naïve to pretend we live in a world where parents know what their kids are doing online. In the past, there were structures and regulations in place that limited kids access to potentially hazardous screen content. Now we live in an age where a) both parents must work in order to actually feed and house their kids and b) kids have very easy access to a massive and largely unregulated pool of video and video games, and can easily "sign" user agreements that they have no meaningful way to assess, not to mention make in-game purchases with the touch of a touchscreen.

I'm a parent who is unusually restrictive about my kid's screen and game use - she's 15, still has very limited time online, and doesn't have a smart phone - but I don't think this is mom's fault.
posted by latkes at 3:38 PM on November 30 [9 favorites]


NoxAeternum, I was trying to be nice and polite. You're right. He's more than just a brat, he's cheating. And the kid broke the rules and now its on her.
posted by Fizz at 3:39 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


Epic seems to have lost their damn minds of late. First they undermine their licensee by releasing a free clone of a game they're presumably getting paid for, now this. Meanwhile, their Unreal Tournament reboot is completely fucking dead. Is that moba still a thing?

On the other hand, they got some great publicity today by finally admitting Unreal wasn't the first game they ever developed.
posted by one for the books at 3:42 PM on November 30


I was mostly trying to give the mom the benefit of the doubt. Latkes kind of nails what I was struggling to write out. I'm sure its hard to keep track of every moment of a teenager's online life/activity. Ultimately its on her to be a responsible parent and aware of whats happening in her home. Kid cheated and now the family is facing some legal action. Ugh.
posted by Fizz at 3:45 PM on November 30


From what I can tell, this kid is a streamer who records himself trying out the latest cheats. I assume his Youtube history has been cleaned up some because none of his 100 youtube uploads, while mod and cheat laden, have any footage of cheating at Fortnite. But there's a clear focus on trolling and cheating in the channel, and if you're providing marketing materials for cheats, you're probably being approached by folks to market their cheats, in exchange for money. The same pay-for-play economy happens with Youtubers and Minecraft servers, and this is economy is just a darker grey version of that.

Is there harm? I don't like free to play, because they convert games from a test of wits and skills to a test of wallets. These games claim it's not, because you can always grind for loot/xp/unlocks. Different cheats harm the developer in two ways: wallhacks etc upset your whales who paid to win, and are clearly losing to bullshit. Bots / farm AI cheats undermine the time / money dichotomy that convert people into paid players. So I mean, yea, cheating sucks. And if this kid wasn't cheating, but also telling people what cheats can do and where to find them, well, that's pretty in line with what Epic claims. So while I'm glad to see pay to win undermined, there seems like a clear case of harm.

Is a civil suit appropriate? As a punishment, being banned from Fortnite isn't a huge deterrent if the streamer's video stands and continues to advertise the cheats. And if your polite request -- Youtube takedown request -- is contested, a suit's really all that's left. And if kiddo's been collecting say bitcoin or something for his troubles, discovery might be useful in tracking down who paid whom with what bitcoin wallets.

Is a cheat illegal? It's probably against TOS, but I doubt you could recover much money from breach of contract or whatever. I figure where they really fall down is derivative works. Cheats have no useful function other than to modify another copyrighted work. I'm not a laywer, but there's bound to be some implications there to recover damages from. And I'm guessing they want to pressure him to turn on any co conspirators, in which case Alarmed Mother's defensive 'he's just a boy!' is on the more pliable end of responses.

Is suing a kid bad optics Kind of? People who pay to play games in their spare time don't like cheaters, so disabling them is usually a bad thing. I figure they're being fairly lenient on the kid, considering how easy it would be to casually mention the videos he still has on his channel harassing women in games, using cheats.

Is outing a minor Youtuber wrong? In court, probably. But dude's Twitter handle is his real name and clearly advertised on his Youtube channel's custom banner, so I don't think you can say he was dox'ed. And if he lied about his age, then it's not super clear how they'd know before filing suit.
posted by pwnguin at 3:49 PM on November 30 [12 favorites]


I'd be curious if anyone knows how judges or other court officials react to lots of legal jargon being used by laypeople.

From the Judge's POV:

You are not a member of the guild that I am a member of and I've already made my decision against you to support my guild member. Your paperwork is going to make me late for my golf game but without citing caselaw and you not saying the matter is first blush I will be able to blow you off.

There is a reason Edward Snowden and POC feel they can't get a fair legal process - they've seen the sausage being made or BEEN the meat for the grinder.

Caselaw is gonna exist on the records of a minor issue and there should be caselaw around the issue of a parent representing their child at trial. Perhaps mom can be at hearings and pre-trial to make arguments - but when I've heard judges have allowed someone who's NOT a guild member to make arguments the person in court is able to self-represent and the invocation was under the idea of the not-guild-member was just assisting the self-represented under 1800's vintage caselaw/rules.


If the kid can get up to speed to self-represent that would be great - but if your choices in life got you to where you are cheating in a free to play game....how much ambition do you have to ramp up on self-representing?
posted by rough ashlar at 3:56 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


No matter how much harm the kid (and other cheaters) are doing with this... the lawsuit is for copyright infringement, and the usage sounds like a collection of fair use exemptions: review and commentary in the videos, and transformative use in the cheats/hacks themselves.

It sounds like they're trying to sue people for making blog posts with excerpts of Harry Potter books + a list of all the characters who died, with the argument that that's ruining the books for other people.

They'd be on more solid grounds suing for computer fraud.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 3:58 PM on November 30 [6 favorites]


If the kid can get up to speed to self-represent that would be great

No, it would not be "great" for a 14 year old kid to repping themselves in Federal court. Could you grind your usual judicial system/bar association axe elsewhere?

They'd be on more solid grounds suing for computer fraud.

Yeah; and regarding the curiosity about criminality -- depending on the nature of the hack it might be under the CFAA.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:01 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


The second that kid streamed his gameplay while using a cheat, openly bragged about it and offered to show viewers how to do the same (and then contested the DMCA takedown by Epic, which was the nice way of asking him to stop) is the second that I say that kid is a piece of shit and so is his mother for taking up for him.

I dunno. Kid's an asshat, surely. But, he's got a right to talk about cheats and even demonstrate them. It's really a form of critique, even if it is to whatever extent advertising those cheats. I'm not sure a TOS or EULA should be able to abridge those rights, even if the kid is an asshat.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 4:02 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


The Bossland verdict has shown that cheat makers can be held liable for copyright infringement for their cheats, and if he's being compensated for the cheats in return for advertising on his videos, that would destroy any review/commentary argument.

Fair use isn't a "get out of copyright free" card.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:04 PM on November 30 [8 favorites]


I'd be curious if anyone knows how judges or other court officials react to lots of legal jargon being used by laypeople.

I wonder if they get the same cringe that Youths get when their parents try to meme at them.


This is accurate.

She doesn't do such a bad job in her letter, strictly in terms of the writing, though there's not that much actual legalese attempted. She has "alleged allegations" up front which isn't so good but that's probably the worst of it.

Laypeople trying to sound like lawyers don't just mangle the actual legalese, they also shoot for a kind of elevated diction that tends to come off as really hackneyed.

These days the actual profession is moving towards plainer style and less jargon.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:08 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]


He could easily be TOS'd; the TOS might say something like "no content that diminishes the experiences of other users," and that can be broadly interpreted as "including those users who play free games and don't want to go up against cheats." That kind of phrase is used to generally mean "no hackerstuffs."

But that won't get the game company money, and it just means he'd be looking for a different hosting platform.

Epic is likely going to be very dismayed to discover there's no actual law against cheating, nor against finding tricks that keep you from needing to spend money to have fun. All the laws that prevent "cheating" are attached to violations of other rights - i.e. it's trespassing to jump the fence to get into an amusement park - and the only rights they've got to work with here are (1) a contract the kid didn't sign, COULDN'T sign, and (2) copyright, where the more different from the original a new work is, the more likely it is to be fair use.

The basic statement, "we never intended the game to work this way" is a strong argument that the hack isn't infringement.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:09 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


Laypeople trying to sound like lawyers

I saw a guy in Atlanta City Court (final disposition of city ordinance charges, and initial appearance for people being bound over to State court) say to the judge "I wanna plead no go"
posted by thelonius at 4:17 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


Can minors enter legally binding TOS? For the game? For youtube? A short survey of legal opinion seems to indicate that a minor cannot be held to the TOS, etc.

If I was Epic and YouTube and I was caught issuing contracts to minors I would quietly walk away. Nothing good can come of it.
posted by pdoege at 4:19 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


"I wanna plead no go"

Do not pass Go. Do not collect $200.
posted by Fizz at 4:21 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


Can minors enter legally binding TOS? For the game? For youtube? A short survey of legal opinion seems to indicate that a minor cannot be held to the TOS, etc.

No, they can't. And parents aren't held to their contracts just because a minor signed it. And even more fun: it's not illegal for the minor to sign a contract, it's just voidable at will by the minor.

If this suit doesn't get dropped, it's going to make an epic precedent of Kids vs the Clickwrap EULA. And if it matches the rest of contract law - in which minors are exempt from most contract requirements - it's going to terrify every social media site on the internet.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:25 PM on November 30 [13 favorites]


The basic statement, "we never intended the game to work this way" is a strong argument that the hack isn't infringement.

Except that he's actually modifying the game - that's how things like aimbots work. This isn't exploiting a flaw in the code, it's using a third party add on to allow him to have utter precision. And there are rulings that have held that such tools are infringing.
posted by NoxAeternum at 4:33 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


I have twelve year olds. One of them started to stream on Instagram and I had to shut that down because I don't want her exposing herself to public ridicule etc at this age. Another had a video camera that he uses to make art, but there's nothing stopping him from making videos with it and posting them online without my knowledge; even though I'm technically savvy, he has access to school computers.

So I could (if my kids were unethical brats) end up in a situation like this, despite being a diligent parent, and whatever you think about the kid being sued, his being sued makes it an issue to be decided based on rule of law, and so her response on rule of law is completely appropriate. You don't have to like the kid for that to be true.
posted by davejay at 4:43 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]


And keep in mind states have laws about electronic signatures.

"(3) If a sender inhibits the ability of a recipient to store or print an electronic record, the electronic record is not enforceable against the recipient. "

I've seen a few TOSes that are wrapped in java so you can't copy/paste or print.
posted by rough ashlar at 4:46 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


If this suit doesn't get dropped, it's going to make an epic precedent of Kids vs the Clickwrap EULA. And if it matches the rest of contract law - in which minors are exempt from most contract requirements - it's going to terrify every social media site on the internet.

This. would. be. beautiful. EULAs are a hell of a lot of bullshit, and when you target your products at minors you probably ought to consider the implications of EULAs and minors.

From TFA: So, in a daring legal maneuver, Rogers had his mother write him a note.

Uh, she's his legal guardian, no? She should be handling this issue. Not sure how actually legal savvy the note is; despite the game being free Epic could have a claim to profit loss if the defendant's actions cause people to not play.

that kid is a piece of shit and so is his mother for taking up for him.

Uh, she's his parent and legal guardian? I mean, I get that people get passionate about their video games, but claims of harm to other players for a free-to-play game is ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by Existential Dread at 4:47 PM on November 30 [10 favorites]


The question isn't whether aimbots are infringing, though, it's whether videos about aimbots are infringing.

And I'm very leery of companies being able to use copyright to stop people not only from providing pieces of their copyrighted material so that other people have less need to buy it from the copyright holder, but from providing information about the product that makes people less likely to buy it. Even if that information is how to be a jerkass and cheat.
posted by Zalzidrax at 4:50 PM on November 30


that kid is a piece of shit

As many fourteen year olds are.

...and so is his mother for taking up for him

Really? I can't imagine a world in which I wouldn't be a piece of shit for telling my 14 year old kid "well you did it and got sued, good luck, see you on the other side" considering it would be my kid and also my assets on the line.
posted by davejay at 4:51 PM on November 30 [17 favorites]


Ok, but you don't understand, this kid cheated. At a video game. Even family loyalty has to have a limit.
posted by Pyry at 4:57 PM on November 30 [30 favorites]


Not sure how actually legal savvy the note is;

IANAL; I am a paralegal. The note looks okay but weak on legal support details; how well that works depends a lot on how sympathetic the judge is.

Some of them are offended at laypeople getting involved in the law; some of them are sick and tired of lawyers trying to squeeze an extra $50k - $2m out of every interpersonal conflict. A judge who's pro-public-citizen would likely accept it as a good basis for rulings. (But she needs a lawyer, pronto. Especially if she wants to countersue for damages for them publishing the name of the minor - because that's likely to be her funding for fighting the rest of this.)

Basically: Epic is suing Kid.

Mom is filing a legal complaint against Epic.

There are two lawsuits here.

Kid may attempt to represent himself, which is a hell of a problem. No, he can't. (Never mind the law; no court is going to approve it.) However, a lawyer can't work for him without either mom's consent, OR an appointment by a court. If Mom doesn't agree to pay for a lawyer, the court may find itself in a bizarre tangle. (If the kid represents himself, or "cheapest lawyer available" takes the job, it lays the foundation for a ruling to be thrown out based on the incompetence of the lawyer.)

The question isn't whether aimbots are infringing, though, it's whether videos about aimbots are infringing.

This too. Although I haven't see the filings to sort out if the infringement is only on the video, or if it also talks about the use of software. But still - the biggest case about hacking-as-infringement, the Bossland one - wasn't contested because the defendants weren't in the US. And of course, they weren't minors who can't required to comply with a contract that says "you will not reverse-engineer this software..."

This is so many layers of clusterfuck; Epic really should back away slowly.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:59 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


The basic statement, "we never intended the game to work this way" is a strong argument that the hack isn't infringement.

Except that he's actually modifying the game - that's how things like aimbots work. This isn't exploiting a flaw in the code, it's using a third party add on to allow him to have utter precision. And there are rulings that have held that such tools are infringing.


MDY Industries, LLC v. Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.


But, as the mom points out, they're suing the users not the maker of the tool.
posted by snuffleupagus at 4:59 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


that kid is a piece of shit

As many fourteen year olds are.

...and so is his mother for taking up for him

Really? I can't imagine a world in which I wouldn't be a piece of shit for telling my 14 year old kid "well you did it and got sued, good luck, see you on the other side" considering it would be my kid and also my assets on the line.


Oh C'mon - the kid made other players has a sad - he's got kidneys he can sell or something, right? The mom should boot his ass out the door - that's totes legal and totes won't get her a visit from child protective services......what an asshole she is.....I'm sure she's sitting on a bitcoin miner to pay for any settlements - why she should just had over her bank account number right now - it's what any non-asshole/piece of shit parent would do....
posted by Gyre,Gimble,Wabe, Esq. at 5:05 PM on November 30 [6 favorites]


This awful jerk spends all his free time harassing people. And promoting it proudly. The fact that even after this event, the parents haven't made him take down his YouTube channel where he does that suggests the mother is also awful IMHO.
posted by floam at 5:21 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]


There's a difference between "kid is a jerk and mom is an enabler and they should both have to go to counseling and spend some time apologizing to the people they've harmed" and "kid deserves to face a life-crippling career-destroying debt because he was a jerk as a teenager."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 5:38 PM on November 30 [5 favorites]


we must put the childs in prison, imprison the childs all of them they are bad
posted by poffin boffin at 5:49 PM on November 30 [14 favorites]


mine are pretty good, they're obsessed with heavy construction equipment and puffins
posted by Existential Dread at 5:55 PM on November 30 [4 favorites]


Can I sell my children to work in the bitcoin mines and not be held liable for how they cheat at that?
posted by nubs at 6:13 PM on November 30


"kid deserves to face a life-crippling career-destroying debt because he was a jerk as a teenager."

What's the saying "you may not do the time by you will ride the ride"?

What's the chance that mentally the kid and family will be unscathed by a long-term legal process? What's the chance the outcome will be a net-positive?

(Over on twitter the discussion of a UK extradition of Lauri Love had mental distress as an issue. Someone should have actual studies done on the downward spirals of being involved in the legal system beyond the high levels of alcoholism in the field of law.)
posted by rough ashlar at 6:19 PM on November 30


The whole click to sign TOS thing is such garbage I can't believe it's still persisting.

Easy to say. Have a solution though?

Also, he was banned from the game numerous times but kept coming back with multiple fake accounts, so it wasn't as if he had no warning. As far as fiscal impact goes, as per the mother's letter, there is one. F2P games are based on optional transactions, and for every person that gets hacked off at a cheater, that's one less chance for one of those transactions. I think her "It's a free game, so they can't claim they're losing money!" is disingenuous at best.

And he did multiple cheat streaming sessions that were shamelessly titled as such. So it wasn't even a mistake, but, I would hazard a chance to make that sweet, sweet YT cash on top of him showing his 3l337 skills.

So, for all of you talking about big bad Epic victimizing the poor little family, much like I challenged latkes, what exactly is a better route for Epic to take?
posted by Samizdata at 6:31 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


There's a difference between "kid is a jerk and mom is an enabler and they should both have to go to counseling and spend some time apologizing to the people they've harmed" and "kid deserves to face a life-crippling career-destroying debt because he was a jerk as a teenager."

So tell me, what should have Epic done? Because from your posts, the answer seems to be "nothing", and doing nothing about this sort of player is why online multiplayer in so many games has become toxic. I'm also noting that you're not exactly leaping to the defense of the adult targets of Epic's lawsuits here, which also makes me wonder if the focus here on this one individual is because his age makes him at least somewhat sympathetic.
posted by NoxAeternum at 6:35 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


(I have played some online games where cheating was rife, as the company seemingly took no action, and quit quickly.)
posted by Samizdata at 6:35 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


I'm also noting that you're not exactly leaping to the defense of the adult targets of Epic's lawsuits here,

Well, it looks like they are suing the actual creators and sellers of the cheat software, which seems like the appropriate tactic. I'm not a programmer nor do I understand what the mechanism is allowing the cheat to happen, but it seems like altering the game to stop the cheat from working and suing the cheat software producers and sellers would be a reasonable course of action to achieve the outcome they want.
posted by Existential Dread at 6:57 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


I'm just going to throw out the suggestion here that maybe everyone involved in this is an asshole, and that going to court to prove who is the biggest asshole might not be in anyone's interest.

I'm sorry I'm not swayed by "think of the poor video game designers (who have copied PUBG and used the similarity as part of their promotion strategy for their own game)" anymore than I am by the "think of the poor kid (who has been using cheats)" arguments.
posted by nubs at 7:00 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


"Can minors enter legally binding TOS? For the game? For youtube? A short survey of legal opinion seems to indicate that a minor cannot be held to the TOS,"

This is the key and central point: NO THEY CANNOT. Moreover, it is the responsibility of the seller/corporation to ensure that their minor customer has permission, to the point that you as a parent can go to Baskin Robbins and say that your child didn't have your permission to buy ice cream, with cash, that they already ate and you as the parent are legally correct and they will have to refund you because it is their responsibility as a company to ensure your child is allowed to enter into the purchase or contract.

If the law were, "Minors can't make contracts and it's the parents' problem," that would be one thing. But the law is "Minors can't make contracts and it's the contracting corporation's problem." Epic has made a business choice NOT to vet its players to find out if minors have parental permission, specifically because they think they'll make more money if they let minors play regardless of whether they have parental permission or not. Doubtless they are aware of their legal responsibility to ensure parental permission for minor players, and doubtless they chose this route because they make more money letting unpermitted minors play than they lose when parents object. So this child is a routine course-of-business expense for them that they chose to take on because they make more money this way. Don't cry for Epic having its business decisions work out exactly as they planned.

"This is not exactly a case of "big mean corporation fights innocent, aw-shucks youngster". The kid (and clearly his savvy mom) seems to know exactly what he's doing, it does not appear to be an accident or a mistake made of ignorance."

Doesn't matter. The kid can't enter contracts and can't be held to TOSes. That's the law.

"She is right about one thing though, I think she laid out solid logic for Epic to not sue her son... But, I am pretty sure she did provide solid insight into a different party they may want to consider suing..."

Again, good luck with that, but the negligence here is all on Epic's side; they have a responsibility to ensure all minor players have firm parental permission. Epic didn't bother. The parent, by law, is not the negligent one; Epic is. But if Epic's lawyers want to be sanctioned for filing frivolous lawsuits, your suggestion is awesome.

"Also, he was banned from the game numerous times but kept coming back with multiple fake accounts, so it wasn't as if he had no warning."
"So tell me, what should have Epic done?"


If Epic were my client, I'd recommend they contact the parent and ask, "Did your child have your permission to sign up for this account?" If they say yes, you have a case you can proceed with. If they say no, I'd deactivate the account, wait for the kid to sign up again, contact the parent, and then get a restraining order against the child. And then proceed from there. This isn't hard.

Children have protected rights. I understand that bothers a lot of people who think children should go hang if they fuck up, but in our legal system, children under 18 cannot enter into contracts, cannot commit certain serious crimes, cannot make purchases without parental permission. That is the law. If you disagree, you need to lobby your statehouse to make it possible for children over 13 or whatever to enter into contracts, even abusive contracts of adhesion.

This case isn't about a 14-year-old cheater; this case is about the lazy-ass, law-ignoring practices of basically every technology company in America. I'm sort-of shocked so many people are in favor of abusive and illegal corporate tactics, put in place specifically to circumvent the law, being used against children. Even if those children happen to be jackasses. If Epic were fulfilling its legal obligations to ensure that minors had permission to play their game, they wouldn't have this problem. They can't be arsed to follow the law because it costs money and hassle. So I don't feel super-bad for them that the law is now biting them in the ass.

This is a corporation engaging in predatory behavior to increase its market share and player base, using predatory tactics to entice minors who are legally incapable of agreeing to their terms to sign their TOS. They are literally encouraging minors to engage in illegal behavior that they are aware minors cannot consent to. They are predators, and they are preying on children. I'm super-unclear on why people are defending their deliberate corporate choice of illegal behavior, or acting like Epic is the victim.

This kid shouldn't be playing the game. But the fact that he's playing is Epic's repeated failure, and it's a failure that Epic CHOSE as a business strategy.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:18 PM on November 30 [35 favorites]


wonder if the focus here on this one individual is because his age makes him at least somewhat sympathetic.

Well yeah, what part of "14 year-olds are not able to make legally binding contracts" are people not understanding? This is not some esoteric legal point, this is pretty basic law.

This is like saying "Well, the 14 year-old signed the wedding certificate, so hey, she's gotta roll with it."

Or is this just fallout from the current Republican politics of "The law only applies when we want it yuk?
posted by happyroach at 7:24 PM on November 30 [5 favorites]


If Epic were my client, I'd recommend they contact the parent and ask, "Did your child have your permission to sign up for this account?" If they say yes, you have a case you can proceed with. If they say no, I'd deactivate the account, wait for the kid to sign up again, contact the parent, and then get a restraining order against the child. And then proceed from there. This isn't hard.

These accounts. He did it multiple times. Also, since he did multiple accounts with false information, how IS Epic supposed to contact anyone? An interesting take, but way too simplistic, IMO.
posted by Samizdata at 7:24 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


I wonder if they get the same cringe that Youths get when their parents try to meme at them.

As a lawyer, this is actually a great analogy (for when laypeople use fancy soundin' legal words).
posted by Sebmojo at 7:26 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


Well yeah, what part of "14 year-olds are not able to make legally binding contracts" are people not understanding? This is not some esoteric legal point, this is pretty basic law.

This is like saying "Well, the 14 year-old signed the wedding certificate, so hey, she's gotta roll with it."

Or is this just fallout from the current Republican politics of "The law only applies when we want it yuk?


Well, until we are able to come up with a foolproof method of age verification that everyone can use (for example, I am of age, but have no credit cards), there's no other real way to handle this that doesn't get very scary with potential data mining applications.

OTOH, if we extend that, that means far fewer temperamental little 14-year-olds cluttering up the gaming world, so there's that too.
posted by Samizdata at 7:27 PM on November 30


"These accounts. He did it multiple times. Also, since he did multiple accounts with false information, how IS Epic supposed to contact anyone? An interesting take, but way too simplistic, IMO."

They got enough information to sue him with, so I'm sure they could get enough information for a restraining order. This is a more persuasive objection if they have no idea who he is.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:27 PM on November 30 [7 favorites]


The idea that people (in this thread, even) think that this lawsuit and DMCA action is the appropriate response against a 14 year old cheater scares me.

It's not just about the punishment fitting the crime or ruining some bratty kid's life over a stupid twitch video stream - but even the fact that that many people think that the courts should even be wasting their precious time on this, or further that it is in anyone's best interest to start establishing case law in "video game cheating", like that won't end in an ocean of salty tears for everyone involved.
posted by loquacious at 7:41 PM on November 30 [21 favorites]


The second that kid streamed his gameplay while using a cheat, openly bragged about it and offered to show viewers how to do the same (and then contested the DMCA takedown by Epic, which was the nice way of asking him to stop) is the second that I say that kid is a piece of shit and so is his mother for taking up for him.

He's a child. Not a 'piece of shit'. Or any of the other unpleasant things he has been called. If he'd committed multiple murders, I'd understand it more, but this is about a 14 year old cheating and boasting about it.

I just don't get the bile and rancour of some of the responses, even if you are upset at him. And I don't think 'he's ruining my gameplay!' is a very good (or mature) reason to rage like this at a child. Or his mother.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:07 PM on November 30 [9 favorites]


These accounts. He did it multiple times. Also, since he did multiple accounts with false information, how IS Epic supposed to contact anyone? An interesting take, but way too simplistic, IMO.

Presumably, this is on Epic as it is their business activity. Facebook can track my internet activity when I'm not even logged in, I'm sure Epic could figure out how many accounts were operating at the same IP address and do some basic analytics.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:11 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


He's a child. Not a 'piece of shit'. Or any of the other unpleasant things he has been called. If he'd committed multiple murders, I'd understand it more, but this is about a 14 year old cheating and boasting about it.

I'd be more in favor of lenience if he'd committed multiple murders. At least the victims of murder don't have to live with the memory of this kid defeating them with cheats.
posted by yonega at 8:12 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


So, for all of you talking about big bad Epic victimizing the poor little family, much like I challenged latkes, what exactly is a better route for Epic to take?

1) Restraining order, as mentioned. Requires an extensive track-the-brat effort as he tries to sign up again and they have to track him and ban him, again, and then head back to court to prove he violated the restraining order, at which point, a judge can assign various penalties beyond "don't go there" since that one didn't work. Violating a restraining order is a crime; that would put the ball in a different court entirely.

2) Sue for fraud-based damages, not copyright infringement. Requires showing some evidence of having actually lost money due to kid's activities. (It's going to be really, really hard to argue that they lost money due to copyright infringement, because the whole point of distributing cheat tips is to entice more players. They may be "cheating" out of paying money - but that part's not based on the copyrighted material that Epic owns!)

3) Age verification. Yeah, nothing's perfect, but I gather this one doesn't even have a "please enter your legal birthday; if under 18, please confirm parental consent; if you are found to have lied, you will be banned" setup. Attempting to enforce this with any level of care at all would probably mean dropping about 80% of their minor players.

All of those methods mean spending resources and money; trying to verify ages means not getting that sweet sweet teen obsession cash inflow from people whom we all know damn well have very little judgment and impulse control - which is why they're exempt from contracts.

Epic put itself here by chasing easy money instead of building a business plan that works within normal corporate law.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:19 PM on November 30 [6 favorites]


He's a child. Not a 'piece of shit'. Or any of the other unpleasant things he has been called.

have you had the terrible misfortune to encounter any 14 year old gamer boys in their natural habitat because let me tell you they are fucking ghastly awful little creatures
posted by poffin boffin at 8:48 PM on November 30 [9 favorites]


Yes, but they are also 14 years old. Unlike (I presume) the people on this thread.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:56 PM on November 30 [2 favorites]


She must be a lawyer.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:00 PM on November 30


Even if I played this game myself and wanted the kid stopped, I still wouldn't want it to be done based on some bullshit copyright argument. Game playing is a small part of my life, but a sufficiently broad precedent would let corporations regulate whole new categories of private life under the guise of protecting their intellectual property.
posted by Joe in Australia at 9:52 PM on November 30 [7 favorites]


I wonder if there's any value at looking at this situation as something like trespassing. I mean, the company has requested that this teenager stop hanging out in a space they ostensibly control and have made it clear that they don't want him there by repeatedly banning him when they find his accounts and issuing takedown notices through YouTube. Would it make sense from a legal standpoint to apply the unauthorized access part of the computer fraud and abuse act to this kid's actions? Or does the initial grant of a new account to him invalidate any claim that he's accessing the server fraudulently?
posted by xyzzy at 10:39 PM on November 30


the whole point of distributing cheat tips is to entice more players.

I don't think that courts would recognize losing money on every download and making up for it in volume as a sound business plan.

He's a child. Not a 'piece of shit'. Or any of the other unpleasant things he has been called. If he'd committed multiple murders, I'd understand it more, but this is about a 14 year old cheating and boasting about it.

Not exactly murders but in the gamergate titled video Mod trolling a triggered egirl, he singles out "this fucking bitch online" for extra harassment based on her gender, after she called him out for blatantly cheating. Should he pay massive civil penalties for all this behavior? IMO not unless he's been monetizing videos and promoting hacks for sale, but either way I don't think he'll be winning Time Magazine's Person of the Year award. Honestly, I would have assumed after the first lawsuit mom would have pulled the plug on the social media because vids like that are a gold mine for self-inflicted character assassination. It certainly reflects a lack of remorse at this juncture.

Really, I'm just hoping there's a way the law can pull off some banning hat trick against teens, microtransactions and EULAs. Can everyone lose? That'd be swell.
posted by pwnguin at 10:50 PM on November 30 [1 favorite]


He's a child. Not a 'piece of shit'. Or any of the other unpleasant things he has been called. If he'd committed multiple murders, I'd understand it more, but this is about a 14 year old cheating and boasting about it.

I just don't get the bile and rancour of some of the responses, even if you are upset at him. And I don't think 'he's ruining my gameplay!' is a very good (or mature) reason to rage like this at a child. Or his mother.


Do you play online games at all? Because the sort of behavior that this individual is engaged in winds up poisoning the well for online multiplayer - not just with the cheating, but the abuse of other players (which is often targeted at women, minorities, etc.) as well - making other players avoid playing online because of this. And just because he's 14 doesn't make his behavior any less poisonous to the community, thanks to that whole "on the internet, nobody knows you're a dog" thing.

Secondly, for those of us who are gamers, this is what we do to relax, to engage with friends and other people, to enjoy ourselves - and when people poison the atmosphere, it causes that to break down - hence why many people have little sympathy for this individual. Would you be as understanding if he was instead helping to make one of your hobbies a toxic environment?
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:07 PM on November 30 [3 favorites]


Ad hominem arguments of the kid's character, as odious as it may be, aren't really germane to the legal issues here since they'd be the same even were the kid a vehement social anarchist in his conversations.

My sympathies are not with Epic Games here other than in their attempts to ban a player from playing and the ignoring of that demand by the player. The rest is more problematic or downright wrong, from my perspective.

If the kid made videos showing how to use ad blockers on, say, Hulu, and Hulu sued. I wouldn't have any sympathy for their position even as it could as reasonably be pointed to as costing Hulu money and in potentially harming the experience of the service for others given money is what funds the programs they offer. There are many hobbies of mine which have been negatively affected by the actions of others, who choose to engage with products and services in ways different than I do, but that doesn't give me any added authority in determining the "proper" use of those same just because I'm irked by it. My feelings are irrelevant to the issue of what the legality of the actions should be.

Game companies clearly rely on underage users for their online products and attempt to bend the EULA agreements to cover this, even as they clearly shouldn't apply, from my perspective anyway, and fund their projects by marketing to children and teens and trying to get them to buy upgrades and make microtransactions just as they do with the adults. The adults can make their own choices on these things, but the reliance on rooking adolescents for their business model gains them little additional standing in my eyes.

That some will attempt find ways to game the game seems as expected an outcome as one could imagine which study of any competitive activities should make clear. Cheating can indeed ruin games for those who don't cheat, but that doesn't mean it should be a legal matter instead of a systemic one for whatever competitive organization is involved. Game rules are not something I want to see the legal system involved with directly.

Where the law can and should possibly get involved is in the attempts to ban individuals who then ignore the ban and re-enter the space. This is a more necessary element, from my perspective, which is both applicable in reality and can have useful purpose online as well in preventing all sorts of problems from cheating to harassment. The need for online groups and organizations is a better way to define their space and prevent it being used in ways they oppose, the attempt by Epic Games seems to me to be in further diminishing individual rights rather than in tightening group controls. It passes the buck from themselves to everyone else and wants the courts to enforce that decision. I'd much prefer they limit their attempts for control to their space alone which is the reach of their responsibility and leave the attempts to constrict individual rights outside that sphere alone.
posted by gusottertrout at 11:54 PM on November 30 [5 favorites]


anyway prisons for babies who are bad
posted by poffin boffin at 12:04 AM on December 1 [2 favorites]


I wonder if there's any value at looking at this situation as something like trespassing. I mean, the company has requested that this teenager stop hanging out in a space they ostensibly control

Yes - they could've attempted to get a restraining order, an injunction keeping him from the game, and if he'd violated that, pushed for criminal charges. Could've tried for an injunction to get the vids removed, rather than DMCA takedown. But they don't have any chance of getting money for that, and the burden of evidence for a restraining order would be a big hassle. They'd have to prove that he violated the law or a contract in posting the vids. Since he's not held by the contract, they've got the awfully thin ice of "well, he fraudulently signed up for an account."

DMCA is quick and easy for removing YouTube vids; restraining orders on speech are a lot more difficult to get. So they seem to think that, since DMCA lets you demand a takedown without checking how likely it is that infringement actually occurred*, a lawsuit for infringement will work just fine.

* They're supposed to consider whether there's actually infringement, but they generally don't, and penalties for DMCA abuse are almost nonexistent.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:18 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


Would you be as understanding if he was instead helping to make one of your hobbies a toxic environment?

I'm trying to think about this - hm, if my hobbies were invaded by a toxic asshole who was facing spurious legal hassles, would I care to defend his rights?

And I'm having trouble deciding, because I've worked to make sure my most important hobbies are not managed by corporate predators. (I play one MMO. This could never happen there, for so many reasons.) So I have to stretch a bit. Okay, I'm on a few Google Groups. If someone horrid joined those, and spewed hate all over, and Google went after him for copyright infringement because he had some quotes in his sig file... yeah, I like to think that I'd want them to file charges for things he'd actually done wrong, not "someone who doesn't understand what fair use is might be persuaded that this is infringement."
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 12:26 AM on December 1 [3 favorites]


> I play one MMO. This could never happen there, for so many reasons.

Not asking you to name the MMO, but how is this MMO run, such that unwanted users are asked leave, and then actually prevented from coming back?
posted by fragmede at 2:44 AM on December 1


My takeaway of this whole comment thread is that an uncomfortable number of people want the book thrown at this 14-year-old--a minor--because he's ruining the one sole source of goodness in their lives: online video games. Specifically this one specific video game.
posted by XtinaS at 3:37 AM on December 1 [4 favorites]


I think a lot of the strength of reaction here isn't about video games as such. It's about rule-breaking. The dude broke all the rules, loudly bragged about it in videos and streams, and then decided to respond to the "stop breaking the rules" requests and video takedowns with "FUCK YOU IMMA BREAK DA RULES LOL" and getting the videos put back up.

There is no way you can spin this so the kid isn't a monumental, entitled asshole. We all (or well, most of us) have come across situations where our lives have been made miserable by dickheads gleefully flaunting rules, and bragging about how they were getting one over in u and others, with no recourse. So when you see someone putting real consequences to an unrepentant, unqualified harmful asshole, it's hard not to think "fuck yes, finally, for once, the asshole gets their come-uppance, not their victims" even if the methods are a little sketchy. Because for once we get to see the asshole suffer for what they did, where we're so used to everyone else suffering for what the asshole did, and being utterly powerless.
posted by Dysk at 3:58 AM on December 1 [6 favorites]


A lot of the pushback in this thread is being labeled as "wanting to throw the book at" this kid. Where is the usual recognition that we are not a court of law? If I were on a jury, I'd hold my nose and argue in the kid's favor. This is not the right lawsuit to take him down with.

A lack of sympathy for this unapologetically abusive, misogynistic teenager, who is emblematic of the stew of toxic masculinity that is ravaging the entire world via the Internet, is not the same as demonstrating a disturbing lack of respect for the protection of minors.

This kid, and the many, many others like him, are absolutely awful and are trampling all over the rights of many others, including adults. No, not other male, white gamers... specifically minorities and the underprivileged. They make their online lives unlivable, and especially take joy in destroying those safe havens of play that so many turn to in awful times.

Until the law catches up to the vast consequences of these actions, and establishes a way to effectively control toxic behavior online in a way that agrees with our philosophy of protecting children... you're just going to have to be surprised by the vehemence of people with zero recourse against violent bullies.

Again, this particular lawsuit is misguided and stupid. This kid should be able to be prosecuted under something, though.
posted by gilrain at 5:23 AM on December 1 [10 favorites]


My takeaway of this whole comment thread is that an uncomfortable number of people want the book thrown at this 14-year-old--a minor--because he's ruining the one sole source of goodness in their lives: online video games. Specifically this one specific video game.

I expect this is the intent but this comes off as super insulting and condecencing. And getting into blame the victim and why are you so sensitive territory. I can understand why it might seem this way but like several others have commented this kid is just one example of a type of toxic player, toxic masculine player that people like me, a woman, who dares play games ,has been having to put up with for decades. This 14 year is not some sort of isolated outlier. He's a prime example of toxic male entitlement culture. He's part of an epidemic that has been marring game world and game nerd world since a certain set of guy (of all ages) decided that games were about them and them only and that they would make sure everyone else knows it.

Yes there particular case is about cheating but the liklihood that this kid and kids like him do all sorts of other toxic it stuff is very very high. Cheating in games like this is just part of the whole I'm am male and am entitled to do whatever I want no matter who I make miserable toxic sludge pile of behaviors. And as shitty as it may sound I just can't subscribe to the viewpoint that just because a male is 14 or 15 that they get some sort of pass against being a decent human being. Many of them, while they may not be capable of understanding the full extent how what they do effects people they know damn well that this type of behavior is wrong.

I'm tired of what is essentially, whether intended or not a well 'boys will be boys' type response. People, males of all ages that do this type of cheating tend to be awful human in general and the cycle just perpetuates. Young guys come in, get away with it, learn from older men, learn that in many cases they can get away with even more because they are a minor and then a certain percentage grown into adult men and the cycle continues.

This gaming culture doesn't just 'ruin one bit of goodness' this is the culture the fuels Gamergate. This is the culture that has ruined peoples careers, stalked and harassed woman, threatened woman. This is the culture in which yes a 14 year teenage kids thing that it's funny to talk about how they going to rape all of you bitches cause yer all baggy sluts, har har go make me a sandwich. Ask me how I know.

Did this particular kid also do this sort of crap? Don't know and don't really care because it all comes from the same place and fuels these types of behaviours. I unfortunately on many occasions have met the '14 year of entitled cheater' in the wild. I've also met his older version. They're common enough that there are some games you just cant play, or you have to isolate yourself into only a group of decent people, or you have to just not use parts of the game or in many cases you end up throwing your hands up and not playing at all.

And while I do think that in this particular case what's happened is overboard on the companies part and like other there may have been other ways to deal with it I don't have much sympathy for the kid or the parent.

Been treated like shit, watched other people be treated like shit and watched way to many environments been wrecked by people like this to be super upset by it.
posted by Jalliah at 6:41 AM on December 1 [10 favorites]


I'm fascinated by the fact that there are people in this thread who are basically fine with an "infant" being so incredibly toxic and destructive in a video game space, like it's less of a "real" space than Facebook, Twitter, or MeFi. If I made "harass the people of MeFi" my daily project and spent all of my free time trolling the people here until I got banned, only to start the whole process all over again, y'all would be pretty angry because, at the very least, I would be wasting the precious resource of a MeFi mod's time. If I then made a bunch of videos about how to game the $5 fee to make unlimited accounts at MeFi so you could harass everyone here, you wouldn't like it and would consider trying to do something about it. But because it's in a video game, who cares, right? Because video games are childish or something?
posted by xyzzy at 7:37 AM on December 1 [9 favorites]


Regarding enforcement of the parental permission requirement: Eh. It's a doubled-edged sword, right? If that kind of a thing had actually been strictly enforced such that no minor could sign up for any website/service with a TOS without first getting parental permission, I basically would not have had access to most of the internet. Games, forums, blogs, whatever. Even parents who think they are doing their best for their children do not always actually have an accurate picture of "the child's best interest". The impact ranges from "strict parent doesn't let kid play games" (annoying) to "you're queer or trans? fuck you lol" (fuck you lol).

I don't think the answer is "strictly enforce requirement of parental permission for minors accepting TOSes". Reduce reliance on the legal stuff, maybe, at least where financial transactions aren't involved; I'm no lawyer and I don't know about that sort of thing. But certainly not "enable and require parents to have near total control over minors' online activity".
posted by inconstant at 7:55 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


If the kid's harassing people? Fins. Get him for that. If he's evading bans, see if you can stick him under the computer fraud and abuse act or something. But using the lopsided protections afforded by copyright as a cudgel for something that isn't really about the copyright is way worse than someone being a jerk online.
posted by Zalzidrax at 8:13 AM on December 1 [4 favorites]


My feeling is the larger problems are being framed really poorly by the legal actions being undertaken. The problem of harassment by teens isn't best addressed by increasing legal penalties or options for legal pursuit by corporations, it's in holding the corporations themselves accountable for the actions of those they allow into their space.

When I was young kids could wander around neighborhoods without supervision doing whatever they wanted, more or less. The physical neighborhood and other children were are primary source of interaction outside the family. We knew the neighborhood and the other children around us well because that was "our world". Kids today, in contrast, spend much or even most of their social time online in virtual worlds. Many likely know the layout of these fake worlds better than they know their own neighborhood, their social interactions may be with adults more than twice or three times their age as "equals" and they'll develop whatever social skills based in part on these interactions.

This isn't a "things were better in the old days" spiel, things weren't necessarily better, in fact there was a lot of really shitty and stupid stuff that happened when kids are left unsupervised to learn as they go, but we were at least all in roughly the same range of development and we owned our childhoods. Now, children are farmed out to corporations that accept, no, enthusiastically seek out young people to join their worlds, but even as they accept the role of caretaker they don't want the responsibility that should accompany that position. What they want is control over childhood in order to own the rights to the history of growing up for the children they lure in. Children growing up in this environment can't own their history as it belongs to the corporations that create the artificial environments they inhabit.

With any owned space there should be some responsibility for the well being of those that interact in it, with children this need is far greater still as they haven't fully developed the abilities to properly understand context, to assess situations, and judge people and events clearly. That is part of the nature of development into adults. Games allow children to find reward through harassment in no small part due to the adults that encourage such behavior and model the same. This is the environment game worlds create and allow to flourish. It isn't inherent in gaming, but it comes from the profit motive that so many companies adopt to gain customers, regardless of who they are.

This isn't a problem to place in the laps of individual 14 year olds, but the companies that allow such environments to exist in the first place and which place their greed ahead of social well being. The companies need to be held accountable for harassment in their spaces. They're the ones that need penalties when that kind of behavior flourishes. To do this they certainly need tools for better assistance in banning players and in maintaining their removal, but they don't need further legal resources to claim ever greater amounts of what remains of childhood or in limiting the rights of everyone else by dint of corporate privilege.

Children can't develop good social skills in a vacuum and expecting that from kids, especially those in unhealthy environments, and then legally punishing them for not understanding the greater context is demanding development beyond their years. That doesn't mean bad behavior should be ignored or that nothing should be done, but that modeling better behavior and denying access to those who don't or can't follow the models should be the goal and companies that do not encourage such modeling through their own behavior in stopping harassment in their own spaces should be the ones to hold to account. A look at punishments meted out by schools should warn that punishing children is not a path to equality as children of color receive much harsher penalties that white children. You cannot demand a shitty system be fixed by placing the burden on kids, that responsibility comes from those with power.
posted by gusottertrout at 8:16 AM on December 1 [14 favorites]


I am definitely willing to believe that this kid is being a total misogynist dick. The legal charges against him aren't related to that. Law should apply equally, so for example 14 year olds can't be held to contracts no matter if they are nice kids or mean kids. I am happy to endorse the idea that even 14 year olds should be disallowed from being assholes in online communities, but that is on the game companies, YouTube etc to create structural controls that prevent that.

Metafilter was specifically designed to be small enough to be managed by humans, and metafilter pays humans to moderate and ensure we don't become a toxic garbage pile. YouTube on the other hand is designed to maximize profits, and they allow for example kids to post bullying and sexist videos. This is on YouTube not on children. Yes, children do need to behave respectfully, but that's a thing for institutions and parents to address, not something game companies can sue kids to enforce.
posted by latkes at 8:19 AM on December 1 [10 favorites]


Oh. Actually, what gusottertrout said.
posted by latkes at 8:20 AM on December 1


The problem of harassment by teens isn't best addressed by increasing legal penalties or options for legal pursuit by corporations, it's in holding the corporations themselves accountable for the actions of those they allow into their space.

Right, but the companies then need to have meaningful mechanisms for disallowing certain types of action to go in on their space. If somebody is ban evading, there needs to be a mechanism available to them for dealing with that.
posted by Dysk at 8:22 AM on December 1


Right, but the companies then need to have meaningful mechanisms for disallowing certain types of action to go in on their space. If somebody is ban evading, there needs to be a mechanism available to them for dealing with that.

And beyond that, they need to have a way to deal with actions outside their space that do impact them as well, which is what this was all about. He wasn't just being an abusive cheater in game, but was streaming himself doing so and giving details on how others could do likewise.
posted by NoxAeternum at 8:27 AM on December 1 [2 favorites]


I absolutely agree with everyone concerned about the misuse of copyright as a cudgel to manage unruly teenagers. I think that Epic is utterly in the wrong on that count. My comment was addressing the posts that essentially added up to, "teen boys will be teen boys." Sure, but no one but the teen boy's parents should be required to endure his toxicity in a private space. If I owned a store and there was a kid spitting at everyone who entered or left my store, I'd call the police and have him removed from my space after I gave him a warning that he wasn't welcome. There needs to be legal tools for companies like Epic to manage situations like this one. The fact that they're using copyright speaks to the problem that such legal tools apparently aren't readily accessible, or, if they are, that their lawyers are not finding the proper instruments and should be replaced with other lawyers who can find them.
posted by xyzzy at 8:51 AM on December 1 [3 favorites]


Epic responded with DMCA takedowns of such videos, since they don't want cheats to be advertised for their games.

This is where my sympathy with Epic ends. Whatever else this is, it's not copyright infringement. They should watch some Jim Sterling videos.

Several of the video owners filed the counterclaim to have their videos restored, which then forced Epic to sue.

They got themselves into this hole by starting out with what was easy rather than what was right.
posted by robertc at 9:10 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


This is where my sympathy with Epic ends. Whatever else this is, it's not copyright infringement. They should watch some Jim Sterling videos.

Last time I checked, Sterling wasn't conducting advertisements for aimbots. Also, he's pointed out that streaming and Let's Plays are in a legal gray area where nobody is sure what the legal boundaries are, in large part because this hasn't been hashed out before a court yet.
posted by NoxAeternum at 9:25 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


Yeah. For instance, Nintendo routinely claims copyright over Let's Plays and streams of their games and directs the YouTube ad revenue from same to themselves. The general opinion I hear is that it's scummy, but technically legal. Most companies somewhat grudgingly treat it as the free advertising it is, but the noise I hear suggests they'd also be in their rights to issue take-downs or commandeer the revenue. Maybe that isn't true; I'd be delighted!
posted by gilrain at 9:31 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


Her momma bear reflexes got in the way of her moral compass. Unplug the kid, and sit him down for a talk about ethical behavior. Well, could be that she is the one who needs the lecture.
posted by mule98J at 9:37 AM on December 1


Metafilter was specifically designed to be small enough to be managed by humans, and metafilter pays humans to moderate and ensure we don't become a toxic garbage pile. YouTube on the other hand is designed to maximize profits, and they allow for example kids to post bullying and sexist videos.

Well put. Most parents alive right now grew up with the knowledge that cigarettes were bad, and whether we smoke(d) or not we can speak to our kids with the authority of that well-documented knowledge. We don't have similarly definitive knowledge of social media harms (emotional, social, physical) and so the conversation with our kids has to be a lot more nuanced; separating the good vs bad of social media is a lot harder than the good vs bad of smoking.

Before I had kids, I thought advertising and PR were going to be the insidious things I had to help my kids defend themselves against. Social media and data mining weren't even on my radar as dangers, and I've been interacting with people digitally since I was ten years old in 1981. Nevertheless, as long as it is a question of corporate responsibility vs corporate profits, we know how it will play out.
posted by davejay at 9:40 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


Last time I checked, Sterling wasn't conducting advertisements for aimbots.

And even if he was it wouldn't be a copyright infringement, which is a point he's made in lots of videos.

in large part because this hasn't been hashed out before a court yet

This may be the time where it starts getting hashed out, and it seems to me Epic have put themselves in a weaker position because their take down requests are clearly nothing to do with copyright.

For instance, Nintendo routinely claims copyright over Let's Plays and streams of their games and directs the YouTube ad revenue from same to themselves

That's to do with Content ID, not DMCA take downs.
posted by robertc at 10:44 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


Total side comment:
Not asking you to name the MMO, but how is this MMO run, such that unwanted users are asked leave, and then actually prevented from coming back?

I used to play Glitch; I'm now an alpha tester for Eleven, a Glitch revival project. There's no combat. It's actively difficult to do harassment. There's a solid practice of mods and devs managing the chat channels - people who are vile get blocked, and get banned if they're vicious enough. Ratio of players-to-mods is low enough that it's not hard to keep track of would-be griefers.

There's not much you could cheat: sure, you could hack, I guess, and give yourself INFINITE STUFF. But there's no "beat the other players" options, except in rare short-term events (Feats) and those are based on event-specific actions; your existing resources won't help much. Even hacking a feat would just get you to the top of the leaderboard, which would mean your name in on the permanent record, and an extra couple of prizes at the end. It wouldn't make you level up faster or get a bigger house than everyone else.

And most important: there's no general acceptance of being mean. There is no "win" condition; everyone is there to enjoy the game in their own way. Even if someone could hack the game, evade mod penalties, and publish cheat codes... very few people would want them. You couldn't get Internet Famous by hacking Glitch or its revival projects.

/derail
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:12 AM on December 1 [2 favorites]


If I then made a bunch of videos about how to game the $5 fee to make unlimited accounts at MeFi so you could harass everyone here, you wouldn't like it and would consider trying to do something about it.

Absolutely, would want that stopped.

Would not want Metafilter to file a copyright lawsuit based on the fact that the hacker used clips of metafilter threads in their "how to hack" vid, though.

The fact that they're using copyright speaks to the problem that such legal tools apparently aren't readily accessible, or, if they are, that their lawyers are not finding the proper instruments and should be replaced with other lawyers who can find them.

There are plenty of legal tools available. They're not easy to use, and they're not profitable.

Epic doesn't want to to through the route that women who've been doxxed have faced - and that's about the legal situation they're facing. "Someone has taken what should be private info about me, and is using it to harass me and my associates." There are laws against harassment, laws against malicious hacking, laws against interfering with business activities, laws against encouraging others to break laws.

And they're damned hard to enforce, and evidence is hard to produce, and some of them are criminal and there's that whole "innocent until" and "beyond reasonable doubt" standards to deal with.

Epic's trying to dodge around using the laws that make sense; they're hoping that waving a big threatening number (up to $150,000 per infringement) and the complexity of any lawsuit at all, will make people cave. Oh, and they're hoping to get a quick legal ruling that means the kid owes them a ton of money so they can seize Mom's assets, and use the whole case as a threat to future hackers.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 11:19 AM on December 1


For instance, Nintendo routinely claims copyright over Let's Plays and streams of their games and directs the YouTube ad revenue from same to themselves

That's to do with Content ID, not DMCA take downs.


It comes from the same root - Nintendo argues that the streams/LPs are derivative works of their own IP, and as such they get final say over monetization due to copyright. And as was pointed out, the consensus is that while disliked, Nintendo has legal ground here. In the same vein, we had recently an indie developer formally pull permission from PewDiePie after he made racist jokes on his channel, which he complied with because the area is gray. Finally, fair use isn't a "get out of copyright free" card, but an affirmative defense that balances several competing points - and one of the fastest ways to be found not in fair use is commercial use. So if he is advertising for cheats, that's a big blow to any fair use argument.

The reality is that this is in a gray area, and devs do have legal arguments that can't just be dismissed out of hand regarding copyright.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:26 AM on December 1 [1 favorite]


They got enough information to sue him with, so I'm sure they could get enough information for a restraining order. This is a more persuasive objection if they have no idea who he is.

They only got that information after it became a problem. That cost them time and money. The way your comments seems to read is that they should do this on a regular basis. I was saying it's not feasible day to day.
posted by Samizdata at 11:26 AM on December 1


fair use isn't a "get out of copyright free" card, but an affirmative defense that balances several competing points

No, fair use is a total exemption from copyright infringement. If something is fair use, it's not infringing. And Lenz v Universal established that a copyright holder has to consider it before filing a DMCA takedown. However, the commercial aspect is part of what's considered in deciding whether or not something is fair use.

But, "his use of our copyrighted material is costing us money" is not, in itself, a valid argument - reviewers are allowed to pan a book or movie. Giving people info that lets them bypass paying and still enjoy the content is not specifically illegal. (Encouraging people to break the contract they agreed to may be! ... But they're not going after him for aiding & abetting computer fraud.)

They only got that information after it became a problem. That cost them time and money. The way your comments seems to read is that they should do this on a regular basis. I was saying it's not feasible day to day.

Day to day, banning people who are problems mostly works. It's only in rare case that a user is breaking the rules in a way that could trigger a lawsuit - and if they are, it's very very rare that copyright infringement is the relevant law.

In any game where people are paying to play - whether that's buying the game itself, or buying power-ups or whatever - there's an ID trail to follow. It's not certain that the credit card owner is the player, but there's a starting point to track down a legal identity.

This is basically a weird SLAPP suit against a particular play style. It's not intended to actually stop copyright infringement; it's aimed at a different behavior, one that may or may not be illegal, but mostly, that Epic doesn't want to allow.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 2:27 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]


This type of cheating is not just a different playstyle. It is not deciding to play games in ways that happen to piss people other people off who don't agree that the game should be played that way. These cheats aren't people playing differently. They are literally using code that people create to manipulate parts of these games to their advantage. They manipulate games in such ways where it's nye impossible for a regular human to compete. There's everything from aim enhancement like this kid apparently did, to scripts that help people do things like claim plots of land in a blink of an eye. There are bots that are able to spend 24/7 harvesting resource which bork economies and supply and demand.

And it's not like MMOs and other online games in general are against third party programs that can help enhance different playstyles. They do. Player created addons are a thing in many games. It's just that there is a line between different playstyles and actually manipulating game code to ie getting it to act in ways that humans physically can't. (bots are a slightly different animal but at base level it's all about doing things a human can't physically do)

Maybe there is a lack of understand of what these cheats actually do or something? Becuase it's really not people deciding to somehow play within the rules differently. This is about changing the actual rules.
posted by Jalliah at 2:56 PM on December 1 [3 favorites]


I am not saying "boys will be boys" or justifying in any this creep's behavior. I am damn well aware of the damage misogyny and harassment have done to gaming and the internet. My wife and a bunch of friends dropped out of gaming because of harassment. The vulnerability of the internet to misogyny and harassment is making it unable.

None of that has ANYTHING to do with the fact that 14 year-olds are legally unable to make contracts, therefore this lawsuit is to put it mildly, on shaky ground. Period. Nobody has had any real response to that other than "But he he totally deserves it".

Which you know, fine. I've spun fantasies of revenge against various GamerGaters or other harassers. But don't try to argue its anything other than what it is.
posted by happyroach at 3:15 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]


This is basically a weird SLAPP suit against a particular play style.
No. That's not at all what this is. Using aimbots and cheat software is not a playstyle. A playstyle is deciding to camp a respawn point for quick, cheap kills or refusing to buy boots of speed in DOTA2 when that item is considered one of the required elements of the current meta by the playerbase. Annoying, but not at all the same as installing software that modifies the game to change the rules just for you.
posted by xyzzy at 3:20 PM on December 1 [3 favorites]



None of that has ANYTHING to do with the fact that 14 year-olds are legally unable to make contracts, therefore this lawsuit is to put it mildly, on shaky ground. Period. Nobody has had any real response to that other than "But he he totally deserves it".


The explanation of why maybe people like me aren't super upset or sympathetic are in response to people's comment about how they don't understand where the rancor comes from because hey he is just 14 and hey it's just games. They are hey you want to understand where it comes from? Here's where and here's why.

I know damn well the 14 year olds can't make contracts and that legally the company is on shaky ground. And agree that the using this type of lawsuit is stupid. So have others.

In my perfect world there would be some sort of actual legal remedy that companies could use to go after these types, 14 years old or not. Because yes, they do deserve some sort of consequences.
posted by Jalliah at 3:32 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]


No. That's not at all what this is. Using aimbots and cheat software is not a playstyle.... not at all the same as installing software that modifies the game to change the rules just for you.

It's not illegal to install software that changes how your computer runs a program. (See: adblockers.) It's not illegal to find a third-party piece of software that gets you out of paying money. (See: Honey, a coupon-finding app.)

It may be illegal to change *their particular* program - depending on how the contract issue breaks down, and other aspects of law - but they're not charging him with computer fraud. They're claiming he infringed copyright - by showing videos of their content.

By that logic, every instruction video or walkthrough that contains images not owned by the person doing the tutorial is infringement.

("But those don't involve cheating!" ... but they're not suing him for cheating.)

They must know they're on thin legal ground, if they can't sue him over what he's doing that they actually have a problem with.

In my perfect world there would be some sort of actual legal remedy that companies could use to go after these types, 14 years old or not.

There is. Harassment is illegal. Fraud is illegal. Restraining orders can require a toxic person to stay away from their target victims, or from a business they're troubling. Epic doesn't want to use the normal legal methods for "toxic troublemaker;" they want a slapdown that will intimidate other people. They really don't want to have to moderate their games in order to shift the game culture away from the toxic assoholism that encourages these kinds of cheats.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 4:15 PM on December 1 [4 favorites]



Legallity doesn't matter to the point I made and xyzzy that this type of cheating is not just a 'different playstyle' and that this kid is just getting SLAPPed because he plays the game different than other people.
posted by Jalliah at 4:23 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]



It's not illegal to install software that changes how your computer runs a program. (See: adblockers.) It's not illegal to find a third-party piece of software that gets you out of paying money. (See: Honey, a coupon-finding app.)


No it's not and you blocking ads on your computer does not reach in make using my browser and surfing worse. Neither does you finding coupons. This isn't even close to the same thing that this tyep of softeware does in multi-player games.

You can find multiple cheats and modification and cheat codes for single player games. My Fallout 4 and Skyrim is modified to exactly how I want to play and sometimes I use cheats. This does not effect anyone else playing the game. My cheating in Skyrim on my own local instance of the game is only about me.

Cheating in multiplayer games modifies the game for every single other person playing it not just what you personally see on your screen.
posted by Jalliah at 4:29 PM on December 1 [2 favorites]


I am 36 year old "gamer" who has been gaming so long I actually placed in Command and Conquer Ladders that were played via modem-to-modem matches. I've competed in FPS tournaments and been a hardcore raider in an MMORPG. I have seen every single kind of cheater you can imagine. Aimbots, walls, macro kiddies, gold farming bots, on and on. There's one for every type of game.

You know what the best defense against cheaters is? Mods/Admins. The same thing that makes Metafilter great makes gaming communities great. The best times I ever had were on servers run by active admins. Cheaters don't get to play on those servers because other human beings ban them. That's the big rub here. Manpower costs money and these game makers only want to cash in as much and as quickly without actually dealing with the fact that there are a LOT of people out there who want to break the rules. See also the whole nazis on twitter problem. In fact, the EA "report a hacker" function is even less useful than the twitter "report a nazis" function. At least twitter will tell you to your face that they're not going to ban the nazis. EA just sends you a little "we got your email thanks" note and it's never heard of again. The reason EA doesn't do anything is because there are also a ton of angry kids who report regular people as hackers out of spite and EA has no desire to pay an actual human to sort through the noise because that would cost money.

Yeah cheaters are annoying but for me that's 100% on the developer. Develop good tools to combat the cheaters, pay some admins to deal with complaints, spend the money. Don't sue little kids.

Also what in the world with laying blame on this KID. Jesus Christ, if a 14-year-old can be sued for exploiting a goddamn video game then why are we so harsh on Roy Moore for trying to diddle them?
posted by M Edward at 6:39 PM on December 1 [3 favorites]


ErisLordFreedom, please don't edit my words and then respond to the new meaning you're creating with a dishonest edit. My post had nothing to do with legal/illegal. I was taking issue with identification of cheats/bots as a "playstyle."
posted by xyzzy at 6:45 PM on December 1 [1 favorite]


The reason EA doesn't do anything is because there are also a ton of angry kids who report regular people as hackers out of spite and EA has no desire to pay an actual human to sort through the noise because that would cost money.


EA will never tell you what they're going to do because their company policy is that account actions are between the company and the account holder (or at least this was their policy when I worked there.) Whether they're banning bots or there are just too many bots going to stay ahead of them won't be visible from the player side.
posted by restless_nomad at 9:39 PM on December 1


UPDATE: Epic Games Settles Lawsuit Against Fortnite Cheater [Comicbook.com]
“Epic Games has settled one of the two high-profile copyright lawsuits the developers have brought against gamers who they say cheated when playing Epic’s Fortnite.

The case that’s come to an end isn’t the Epic Games vs. mother-son duo where the studio is taking action against a 14-year-old cheater, but it’s a similar case where Epic Games said that Charles “Joreallean” Vraspir infringed on their copyright by injecting computer code into Fortnite in order to cheat.

Epic Games’ allegations certainly appear to have held some truth seeing how the two parties were able to reach an agreement without engaging in a lengthy battle through the court system. Both Epic Games and Vraspir agreed on a permanent injunction involving Fortnite that prevents Vraspir from cheating in any way, shape, or form in the future. After being banned at least nine times during his cheating escapades and supposedly writing his own codes for the cheats, Vraspir can play Fortnite if he wishes, but any more cheating will result in him paying $5,000 to Epic Games when caught. The injunction can be seen here in full in a PDF format (via Torrent Freak).”
posted by Fizz at 12:44 PM on December 4


It may be illegal to change *their particular* program - depending on how the contract issue breaks down, and other aspects of law - but they're not charging him with computer fraud. They're claiming he infringed copyright - by showing videos of their content.

That's not accurate, the complaint clearly states the infringement claim was based on code injection. The code is copyright protected, and so there's your nexus under Blizzard v. MDY, at least thats the idea. (WoW Glider was bot, not a tool that hacked the server or other players game state -- it didn't inject code into the client, if memory serves.) A civil claim under the CFAA would be shaky on the elements, even if it's a better conceptual fit.

One wonders what mefi's own Zittrain thinks.
posted by snuffleupagus at 2:43 PM on December 4 [1 favorite]


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