Tag Archives: Felmyst

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.

Private WoW server Felmyst shut down in one day

World of Warcraft

There is, perhaps, a not-so-unknown secret in the World of Warcraft community that many people are unhappy with the way the game has evolved. Streamlined interactions, fast travel, the loss of talent trees, major changes to the landscape (such as the now-flooded Thousand Needles), rapid leveling, repetitious quests, questionable lore addons, and so on. It is also relatively well known that because of the longing some players have for the much more involved, grindier, slower-paced, talent-centric nature of the original WoW, private servers, meaning ones not run by WoW developer Blizzard, have popped up all over the place.

One of the best and most stable of these private servers was Felmyst, a four-year labor of love by a developer known as Gummy, who suffers from Musular Dystrophy and is for all intents and purposes, homebound. Well known in the private server community, both Gummy and Felmyst were doing well, with a stable build and a solid user base. However, a mere one day after the Felmyst servers finally went live, Gummy received a Cease and Desist order from Blizzard. You can read the gory details over at Ars Technica, and I should also mention that I was going to post Gummy’s formal announcement about the shutdown that he posted to his website, however the website went offline just one day after he posted that. For a four year project, it vanished into thin air very quickly.

UPDATE: Apparently his response is back up on felmyst.com, but for how much longer I can’t say. Here it is:

Gummy's response

Gummy’s response

If you’re the lazy type who doesn’t like to click on images, here is what he wrote:

Felmyst 

I began this project roughly four years ago and last year when Blizzard began taking action more seriously it weighed heavily on me as not only was I already heavily invested into the work but others around me were as well. Because of my health situation I wasn’t in a position to cut losses and start over on something different, at least not something that would take four years to make. Last year’s news of what Blizzard was doing came at the absolute worst time for me, frankly, with so many years already invested. To explain what may appear as an odd series of decisions it seems worthwhile to disclose my condition, muscular dystrophy, which only one other person in the online sphere knew of until now. 

Of course, that is why I’m not able to pick up and move to another country as an alternative means to host the server since I’m not really able to live on my own. That is also the reason I’ve been able to work mostly full time on this project as I’m unemployed, though I have sacrificed much of my well being dedicating everything I have to this. Why am I disclosing this? I’m not really sure, but I feel compelled to. 

So the question instead becomes: why host it yourself? The problem with that is our popularity snowballed way too fast once the release date was set. 

Before the release date was declared, most people expected the server to flounder with a small population, the irony of which quickly became a meme. Therefore, months ago I saw no reason to hand all of our work over to someone I didn’t know when the project had a reasonable chance to stay small enough to avoid the need. Though I have no problem contributing to honest developers, the market to wrongfully profit from this stuff is much too lucrative to hand it out on a whim. Had we time to smooth out the release, this certainly would have been something to explore. The warning signs to expect notice from Blizzard were there but receiving it that quickly was something I don’t think many expected. 

So why did I make this project? I love the game and community, especially the community. The old game was a great way to meet people and see new faces. It makes me happy, and programming makes me happy. Of course, I am sad that things didn’t turn out the way I’d hoped but I don’t think I’d change any of the decisions I made. I gambled that we could cap the servers at 3k and enjoy a close community. Sadly, I did not win that gamble, though on some level it was nice to see so many people eager to enjoy something I worked on. This project gave the last four years of my life a sense of purpose that I thoroughly enjoyed. 

So why not tell people of that plan ahead of time to stifle hype? The problem with private servers is that there is no middle ground. If people expect a server to “only” have 3000 (real) players then they just won’t play and you’ll instead end up with 300, which isn’t playable. 

A lot of people are of course asking for the source code. Although it may not be in my best interest to distribute the whole thing in its entirety at this point, I’ll see what I can manage that would be beneficial to other programmers who are still learning. 

Gummy 
gummy52facebook@gmail.com

All of this rubs me the wrong way. The fact that the C&D order was delivered just one day after the servers went live even though Blizzard must have known about it years ago, that the servers went down so fast, that the website went offline so fast (but is now back), it was just scrubbed into nothing immediately after such a long development cycle. Maybe Gummy simply was spooked by having a multi-billion dollar company com after him. Some in the community said he should move his servers to another country to circumvent Blizzard’s attempt at shutting him down, however Gummy claims he doesn’t have the resources for that. Others were and are still imploring him to release the source code, however he states there are legal implications and ramifications to doing that and has therefore made no such commitment.

Another interesting legal wrinkle is that it is apparently not illegal to run a private server, the issue is distributing the client along with it that causes the problem. I don’t know the technicalities, but there has even been the argument that if you kept the servers up without including a client, which the Felmyst download did, there wouldn’t have been a problem. Again, I don’t know the specifics of the case and Blizzard’s claim to IP so I can’t comment on that. I can say that Gummy claims to have done most of the coding to get the thing up and running.

Frankly, I don’t know what Blizzard’s obsession is over not setting up a vanilla server themselves. They shut down Nostalrius, claiming the whole time they would work with the team to set up an officially-sanctioned legacy server, then just…nothing. Frankly, Blizzard lied to them, to us, and did so deliberately. On Nostalrius’ official site, you can read the latest announcement, from all the way back in May of 2016 – and note there has been nothing since – of how Nostalrius thought they would be part of something great and working with Blizzard to set up a legitimate vanilla server, not realizing they were being misled. To show how big the demand is for something like this, which incidentally would cost Blizzard very little to implement, this is a no joke screenshot from the last minutes of Nostalrius:

The last moments of Nostalrius

The last moments of Nostalrius

Seems like something people want.

So what can you do now if you wish to play the informally-labeled ‘vanilla WoW?’ You can do what I did, and switch over to Elysium. You have to get the client via torrent, but it’s stable, works beautifully, and for someone like me who still remembers being blown away when they first saw WoW, and longs for the difficult, slow, plodding, yet rewarding gameplay experience original WoW offered, it’s glorious going back to those early days; before Thousand Needles was flooded, before Durotar was as well, before the great sundering, before all of that. When Barrens Chat was as lively as ever, the Defias roamed free, you had to train skills, and find Mankrik’s wife, when some wore a Big Blue Dress and Alterac Valley could go on for days, when you had to suffer abysmal drop rates to earn your levels in order to pay 40 gold for a horse, it brought a tear of joy to my eye to relive those opening cinematics for the Undead and Tauren that hooked me right from the beginning. Its default graphics settings made the game look like I was back in its 2004 release date, but after cranking everything to max, the game looked beautiful.

Elysium WoW Screen

Elysium WoW Screen

Additionally, I set up characters on their Anathema server, which was recommended to me, however their Elysium server is much more populated. That’s good on the one hand as the opportunity for groups and simply interaction is higher, but it comes at the expense of gameplay as it can lag severely, although I suppose that is quite reminiscent of original WoW. On the Anathema server, things are better, but it is still well populated, runs smooth, and I personally feel has a better balance, plus I still get to experience groups, Barrens chat, and and interaction. Here is a pic from Orgrimmar on Anathema, and as you can see it’s bustling with activity.

Orgrimmar on Anathema

Orgrimmar on Anathema

There’s even whisper spam from gold farmers!

Just like vanilla

Just like vanilla

The only real problem I had was naming my character. Every single name I typed in gave a ‘That name is unavailable” error, even some of the ones it recommended to me did the same! There were some other minor, non-gameplay related things: At one point I repeatedly took fire damage although I wasn’t near a fire, an NPC referred to me by the wrong name, and an NPC clipping through the world; he came back though. There is also only one server, so server time never lines up with actual time. Other than that, no troubles so far.

Well, except for this:

UPDATE: Recently there have been some major server crashes. Actually, I don’t know what the specific issue is, but today all action stopped, and never started again. I wasn’t kicked back to the character select or login screen, it didn’t freeze up, it just stopped responding. My character could run around, but that’s all. All other players in the vicinity vanished. It also was unable to login to the character select screen afterwards, and had to x-out (I play in window mode) to try again. This happened multiple times today, my third day in. It has been smooth until now, and a patch was just rolled out earlier, which may have something to do with it.

UPDATE II: The issue was fixed, however I lost about 40 minutes of progress.

As great as it all is, be warned: it is not for the faint of heart. It is the grindiest grind in grindville, however because it is (I think) Burning Crusade, you level up a little faster than pure vanilla. But it is also very unforgiving ear;y on for some classes. For a while, as a Tauren hunter, around level 8 I was dying more than I was questing. I spent a lot of time in black and white (meaning dead), and I would get stomped by same-level mobs. For every one I killed, I would be the loser multiple times. Enemies are densely packed, it’s very easy to draw multiple aggros, and you often have to proceed very carefully. Once I got a pet, however, the whole dynamic changed and it became much more balanced. In the brief time I spent with some other classes, rogues, druids and warlocks made it much easier to progress early on. Warriors and priests, not so much. I didn’t try the mage or shaman classes.

It’s been very fun returning to almost-original WoW. When it was first being hyped all the way back in 2004, I didn’t pay it much attention, reading about it in game magazines with only passing interest. When the beta rolled around I thought “What the hell, I’ll give it a whirl” and was floored by what I saw. Immediately hooked, I knew I was witnessing something, experiencing something monumental; both literally and figuratively game-changing.

In fact, I got so much out of original WoW, had so many good experiences (I’ll never forget a higher-level Alliance chasing me all the way from Thousand Needles to Un’Goro crater, where I jumped over the edge and slowfell to the ground below, escaping my pursuer, only to be immediately devoured by a dinosaur. Good times.), I actually bought the Bloodscalp server on which I used to play when Blizzard auctioned it. It’s a prized possession.

Bloodscalp WoW Server

Bloodscalp WoW Server

I never played Alliance because they’re the dirty, stinking Alliance.

So if you have never experienced original WoW, if you are a latecomer, if you want to know what all the fuss is about, if you wax nostalgic for the more pure version of the game, then I encourage you to try out a vanilla server and see what you think.

I’ll update as I continue on. In the meantime, here are the original intros for the Human, Tauren, and Undead races, all recorded at max settings off Elysium’s Anathema server. I also included a very brief bit of running around to give an idea how it looks.

Going Up