You paid for it, you have the DVD in your drive and the box on the floor next to your desk, but do you own the game? That is the question that the 9th Circuit Court in the US will rule on next week in the case between Blizzard, publisher of World of Warcraft, and MDY, publisher of the Glider bot.
Glider plays World of Warcraft for you. Rather than paying someone real money to earn experience or send you gold, you could pay real money for a program that would earn experience and gold. Blizzard say that you don't own WOW - you only have a licence to use it and if you use a "bot" like Glider your licence ends. The next time you start the game you are as much a pirate as someone who downloaded the game illegally.
Blizzard detected and banned a lot of players who used Glider. They then sued MDY for all the subscription fees they lost from the banned player (plus a ton of other cash). In 2008 a judge held MDY liable for contributing to the banned player's infringment of Blizzard's copyright in WoW. The judge also held MDY liable for the lost subscription fees because MDY encouraged players to do something that was a breach of their contract with Blizzard.
What the world would look like without lawyers
Both sides appealed. Blizzard want the founder of MDY to pay them the US$6,000,000 judgement since the MDY company itself can't pay. MDY say that Blizzard's licence agreement is garbage - if you buy the game you own it and can use it however you like; that includes running WoW and Glider at the same time. MDY have 100 years of precedent and the EFF on their side. Blizzard have the copyright industry lobby on theirs.
I'm personally conflicted. I don't like overreaching use of law to deny rights to citizens so that big business can profit, but if Blizzard wins EA could sue the people who make cheats for Bad Company 2.
This case will be heard on Monday 7 June. We'll keep you up to date on the case as further developments occur. You can read some more discussion on this blog
or on the EFF site
. I'll also answer questions in the comments...