It finally happened

Uh oh

I have the feeling this story could get convoluted. Let me sum up right at the beginning: I have finally received a threatening letter accusing me of copyright infringement, from the Entertainment Software Association (ESA). Some background:

I have been playing vanilla WoW, off and on, for months on a private server known as Elysium-Project. I wrote about the experience not too long ago right here on this site (we’ll get to Felmyst later in this post). The thing about this server is that in order to download the client you have to do so through a torrent, which right away gives the impression of impropriety. I had downloaded it once before, using the uTorrent client, to use on my desktop, and everything seemed above the board.

utorrent client - I probably shouldn't have started it again for this shot

utorrent client – I probably shouldn’t have started it again for this shot

Recently, though, I downloaded it again, using the exact same torrent client, however this time it was on my laptop. Immediately, even before the file finished downloading, I received the following email from my ISP, Cox Communications:

Dear Customer,

We are forwarding a notice received by Cox Communications which claims that someone using your Cox High Speed Internet service has violated U.S. Copyright law by copying or distributing the copyrighted work listed in the attached complaint.  THIS COMPLAINT IS FROM A THIRD PARTY AND NOT FROM COX COMMUNICATIONS.  We have included a copy of the complaint, which identifies the party making the claim, the title or work they claim was infringed, and the date of the alleged infringement.

We ask that you review the complaint and, if you believe it is valid, promptly take steps to remove or disable access to the infringing material (typically movies, music, books, or TV shows).  If other parties are using your account, such as through your WiFi connection, you should ask them to disable file-sharing in peer to peer applications such as BitTorrent, or delete the copyrighted works.

If you disagree with the claims and believe that no one using your Internet service could have been the source of the alleged infringement, please do not contact Cox Communications to resolve this matter.  Cox is simply forwarding the notice to you.  However, if you have WiFi, please make sure your WiFi connection is secured with a strong password to prevent unauthorized use of your Internet service.  In addition, make sure anti-virus software is installed and up to date to help prevent malware infections.

PLEASE NOTE:  THE ATTACHED NOTICE MAY CONTAIN A SETTLEMENT DEMAND FOR MONEY OR OTHER TYPE OF OFFER FOR YOU TO CONSIDER.  YOU MAY WANT TO CONSULT WITH AN ATTORNEY REGARDING YOUR RIGHTS AND RESPONSIBILITIES BEFORE CLICKING ON ANY LINK OR VISITING A WEBSITE LISTED IN THE NOTICE.

The material that you share online or make available for sharing is your responsibility.  Cox encourages responsible Internet use, but we do not monitor nor control the information you transmit.  We have a policy, however, consistent with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, to take steps when we receive notifications of claimed infringement.  We also have a policy of terminating repeat infringers in compliance with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act Safe Harbor for online service providers.

If we continue to receive infringement claims notices for your account, we may in appropriate circumstances suspend your account, disable your Internet connection, and/or terminate your Internet service.

For information about Cox’s Acceptable Use Policy, including copyright infringement, please refer to:
https://www.cox.com/aboutus/policies.html

To learn more about your responsibilities concerning copyrighted material, please refer to our help article at:
https://www.cox.com/copyright

General information & FAQs about DMCA notices:

http://www.respectcopyrights.org/

http://www.riaa.com/toolsforparents.php?content_selector=resources-music-copyright-notices

If you would like to reply to this email, please keep the subject line intact for tracking purposes.

Sincerely,

Cox Customer Safety

— Original Message —

[Part 0:0 (plain text)]

—–BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE—–
Hash: SHA1

2017-10-07T03:15:10Z

Entertainment Software Association
601 Massachusetts, NW, Suite 300, West
Washington, DC 20001 USA

Attention:
Intellectual Property Enforcement
Website: http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/DMCA-FAQs-Updated-12-2014.pdf
E-mail:
dmca@theesa.com

Cox Communications

Re: Copyright Infringement by Cox Communications Subscriber

Using IP 98.164.255.62 on 2017-10-07T03:14:58Z (the “Subscriber”)
Reference Number c7ed1b3845618ac0d707

Dear Cox Communications:

The Entertainment Software Association (“ESA”) is the U.S. trade association that represents the intellectual property interests of companies that publish interactive games for video game consoles, personal computers, handheld devices, and the Internet (hereinafter collectively referred to as “ESA members”).
A list of ESA members can be found at http://www.theesa.com/about-esa/members/.
Under penalty of perjury, we affirm that ESA is authorized to act on behalf of ESA members whose exclusive copyright rights we believe to have been infringed as described below.

ESA is providing this notice pursuant to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), 17 U.S.C. section 512, to request that you take immediate action with respect to infringement of ESA member copyrighted works by your Subscriber.
Using the IP address on the date and time referenced in the subject line of this notice, the Subscriber or someone using their account employed a peer-to-peer service or software to distribute one or more infringing copies of ESA members’ games, including the following title:

Warcraft (franchise)

Courts in the United States have held consistently that the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted works using peer-to-peer or similar services constitutes copyright infringement.
E.g., MGM Studios, Inc. v. Grokster, Ltd., 545 U.S. 913 (2005); BMG Music v. Gonzalez, 430 F.3d 888, 891 (7th Cir. 2005); Arista Records LLC v. Lime Group LLC, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46638, *49 (S.D.N.Y. May 11, 2010

This Subscriber should understand clearly that there are serious consequences for infringement.
The Copyright Act in the United States provides for statutory damages of up to $30,000 per work infringed, and up to $150,000 per work for willful infringement.
17 U.S.C. section 504(c).

We ask that you work with us to protect the intellectual property rights of ESA members by:

1. Providing the Subscriber with a copy of this notice of copyright infringement, and warning the Subscriber that his or her conduct was unlawful and could be subject to civil or even criminal prosecution.
2. Promptly taking steps to stop the Subscriber’s infringing activity.
3. Pursuant to 17 U.S.C. section 512(i)(1)(A), as appropriate, terminating the account of the Subscriber if your records show that he or she is a repeat copyright infringer.

ESA has a good faith belief that the Subscriber’s reproduction and/or distribution of these copyrighted works as set forth herein is not authorized by the copyright owners, their agents, or the law.
The information in this notification is accurate.
Neither ESA nor its members waive any claims or remedies, or their right to engage in other enforcement activities, and all such claims, rights and remedies are expressly reserved.

If your Subscriber has additional questions about this notice, we would encourage them to visit http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/DMCA-FAQs-Updated-12-2014.pdf to learn how to delete the infringing material and avoid receiving future notices.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Intellectual Property Enforcement
Entertainment Software Association
Website: http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/DMCA-FAQs-Updated-12-2014.pdf

– ————- Infringement Details ———————————-
Title:        Warcraft (franchise)
Timestamp:    2017-10-07T03:14:58Z
IP Address:   98.164.255.62
Port:         33768
Type:         BitTorrent
Torrent Hash: 2b32e64f6cd755a9e54d60e205a9681d6670cfae
Filename:     World of Warcraft 1.12 Client.rar
Filesize:     5197 MB
– ———————————————————————

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<Infringement xmlns=”http://www.acns.net/ACNS” xmlns:xsi=”http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance” xsi:schemaLocation=”http://www.acns.net/ACNS http://www.acns.net/v1.2/ACNS2v1_2.xsd“>
<Case>
<ID>c7ed1b3845618ac0d707</ID>
<Status>Open</Status>
<Severity>Normal</Severity>
</Case>
<Complainant>
<Entity>Blizzard Entertainment, Inc.</Entity>
<Contact>IP-Echelon – Compliance</Contact>
<Address>6715 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90028
United States of America</Address>
<Phone>+1 (310) 606 2747</Phone>
<Email>p2p@copyright.ip-echelon.com</Email>
</Complainant>
<Service_Provider>
<Entity>Cox Communications</Entity>
<Email>abuse@cox.net</Email>
</Service_Provider>
<Source>
<TimeStamp>2017-10-07T03:14:58Z</TimeStamp>
<IP_Address>98.164.255.62</IP_Address>
<Port>33768</Port>
<Type>BitTorrent</Type>
<SubType BaseType=”P2P” Protocol=”BITTORRENT”/>
<Number_Files>1</Number_Files>
</Source>
<Content>
<Item>
<TimeStamp>2017-10-07T03:14:58Z</TimeStamp>
<Title>Warcraft (franchise)</Title>
<FileName>World of Warcraft 1.12 Client.rar</FileName>
<FileSize>5450407230</FileSize>
<Hash Type=”SHA1″>2b32e64f6cd755a9e54d60e205a9681d6670cfae</Hash>
</Item>
</Content>
</Infringement>
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There’s a lot there, but essentially what it is saying is that I committed a copyright infringement not by downloading the Warcraft client, but by also allowing it to be seeded and therefore distributing it. It’s like drug enforcement; the dealers are the problem much more so than the users.

I also have to say I find some amusement in the otherwise serious nature of this email, in that while the complaint from the ESA was very serious and implied significant fines, federal crime, even possible jail sentences, the portion from Cox essentially says “Hey, this is what we were told, now keep us out of it.”

The fact that it came in late on a Friday night while the file was still downloading also makes it quite clear the whole process was automated, both the email to Cox and their forwarding it on to me.

I blame myself for part of this as I never thought to switch off seeding, and when I tried to connect to the private Elysium server after the client download was complete, I neglected to modify what’s known as a realmlist.wtf file to point to Elysium’s server as opposed to the stock Warcraft server. That means that I was attempting to connect directly to Blizzard at first. That’s not what the complaint was about, it was about the redistribution of their client via torrent, but the fact I made that connection error at first was not lost on me.

I don’t anticipate any major problem from this. The second the file was done downloading I deleted the original torrent file and shut down the torrent client. I don’t like to use my limited bandwidth to seed the downloads of others, and I don’t have anything they would want anyway, especially not on my laptop.

So I am ignoring it for now, and in fact I have done what they asked (demanded) I do. It also leads to an interesting legal issue: If you read my previous post about my early experiences on Elysium, you would know that there had been another private server, Felmyst, that was shut down on its very first day, apparently because they were distributing the client along with the game files (or something like that). Elysium, on the other hand, is able to stay up and running because they don’t distribute the client, and therefore no copyright violations are taking place. That seems strange to me since we are playing on a server that uses entirely Blizzard-created assets, but who knows. A quick Google search indicates I’m far from the only one experiencing this, and the issue of monetary gain versus non-profit can have serious implications and Blizzard’s perspective isn’t always so black and white. They’re both very interesting reads.

What I can surmise is, and as I stated earlier, using the client/game once downloaded, even downloading the client itself, is not illegal; it’s the redistribution that’s the problem.

Don’t redistribute clients via torrent, people.

Going Up