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Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. v. In Game Dollar, LLC
United States District Court for C.D. Cal.
Case No. SACV07-0589-JVS, Filed May 22, 2007, Settled January 28, 2008


On May 22, 2007, Blizzard Entertainment, the creator and operator of the popular MMORPG World of Warcraft, brought suit against In Game Dollar (IGD). IGD was the parent company of www.peons4hire.com which offered power-leveling and virtual gold-selling services. Power-leveling allows a player to pay to have his virtual character advanced to the agreed-upon level by a third party using the player's account. Virtual gold sales consist of a player paying real-world money then having his virtual character meet the merchant’s character in-game to transfer the virtual gold. IGD advertised its services in the game by constantly sending spam messages to players though WoW’s chat system.

Blizzard alleged that IGD’s services and aggressive in-game marketing via chat spam diminished players' game experience and cost Blizzard subscribers, bandwidth, employee time, and revenue. Blizzard further stated that IGD’s actions violated Blizzard’s End User License Agreement and Terms of Use. The lawsuit was brought on six grounds:
  1. Violation of the Computer Fraud & Abuse Act


  2. Violation of the California Computer Data Access & Fraud Act


  3. Intentional Interference with Contract


  4. Trespass to Chattels


  5. Unjust Enrichment


  6. Unfair Competition

IGD decided to avoid prolonged litigation and essentially agreed to shut down its business in exchange for Blizzard not seeking monetary damages. The case was settled on January 28, 2008 with the court issuing a Consent Order. The order consisted of a permanent injunction preventing IGD from engaging in any future WoW virtual asset sales or in-game marketing communications.

The blog Virtually Blind provided an analysis of the case and found that Blizzard “has taken what is arguably the most aggressive legal stance in the industry against gold farmers, chat spammers, third-party bot providers, and others who violate World of Warcraft’s Terms of Use and End User License Agreement. The company’s actions have been widely praised both by players and by commentators who follow legal issues in games and virtual worlds.” Virtually Blind saw the settlement as further recognition of virtual property by the court system.


Because this was a settlement rather than a court decision on the merits, the result doesn’t serve as binding precedent. Still, the result of forcing a gold spammer to cease operations within a game has acted as a major milestone.

Read the full Complaint here.

Read the full Consent Order here.
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