Legal commentators in the blogosphere (e.g. Nic Suzor, Technollama, Rebecca Tushnet, Venkat & Eric) have already offered some initial thoughts on the Ninth Circuit decision in MDY v. Blizzard. Since I talked about the district court opinion in this case in Chapter 9 of my book, I thought I'd post a few reactions too.
This post is going to be a bit on the long side, but that's only because the issues raised on this appeal are a bit tricky, meaning that I feel the need to lay a little doctrinal groundwork before getting to my thoughts about the case.
Though there was an interesting tortious interference decision in the appeal, I'm going to focus on the two copyright issues that were decided by the Ninth Circuit, one involving a claim that users of MDY's Glider program breached World of Warcraft (WoW)'s software license and the other claiming that users of MDY's Glider program violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA)'s prohibitions on circumventing technological protection measures that limit access to copyrighted works. This second claim focused on the operation of Blizzard's Warden program, which monitors a player's computer to see if it is running any unauthorized software.
The appellate court essentially found in favor of MDY on the licensing issue, reversing the lower court, and in favor of Blizzard on the DMCA-Warden issue, affirming the lower court. That adds up to a win for Blizzard. That win could be reversed, in theory, if MDY pursues further appeals. An en banc review of the Ninth Circuit is possible and there's always the slim chance of getting the case reviewed by the United States Supreme Court.