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Mythic sued over EULA

If I could turn back Time

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BlackSnow Interactive is a company which locates rare and expensive items in massively multiplayer online RPGs such as Anarchy Online and Dark Age of Camelot and then sells them on its website.

With seven full-time employees, it is the largest professional gamesmanship organisation this writer is aware of. It is also suing Mythic Entertainment, the creators of DAOC for restricting the sale of items and characters in its EULA (end user licence agreement).

The issue of how legally binding EULA documents truly are has been a grey area for some time. The EULA is that long-winded legal-looking document that appears with the option to click Yes or No during the installation of a new computer game. Without really thinking about it, the average PC gamer has probably clicked through hundreds in his time, without pausing once to examine the contents...

The basis of BlackSnow's suit is that Mythic is guilty of "various anti-trust, copyright and anti-competitive issues".

There are obvious arguments in favour of Mythic’s EULA: that hogging all the rare items makes the game more frustrating for proper players; that selling high-level accounts to newbies endangers the lives of any characters they team their inexperience with; that frankly it contradicts the spirit of the whole game.

Ignoring these compelling arguments in search of a quick buck, the seven-strong BlackSnow Interactive defends its case stating on its website that the company deals in "time".

BlackSnow director of sales Lee Cadwell speaks out in the company’s press release: "What it comes down to is, does a MMORPG player have rights to his time, or does Mythic own that player's time? It is unfair of Mythic to stop those who wish to sell their items, currency or even their own accounts, which were created with their own time. Mythic, in my opinion, and hopefully the court's, does not have the copyright ownership to regulate what a player does with his or her own time or to determine how much that time is worth on the free market." Cadwell describes Mythic's actions as an "attempt to stifle competition in their own game".

The backlash against Blacksnow Interactive has been immense. Its legal discussions forum has over 500 posts, most of them condemning the action. Many players believe that hogging all the decent items and selling them to newbies is tantamount to destroying the game. Some have even said they will sue BlackSnow Interactive if it wins its case.

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