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Bungie Inc. Wins USD 12M Lawsuit Against Cheat Developer

In a significant legal triumph for the gaming industry, Bungie Inc., the developer behind the popular online multiplayer game “Destiny 2,” has successfully secured a default judgment against Mihai Claudiu-Florentin, a Romanian individual doing business as Veterancheats.com. The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court, Western District of Washington at Seattle, culminated in a judgment partially in favor of Bungie, with the court permanently enjoining Claudiu-Florentin from further infringing activities and awarding substantial damages.

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Background of the Case

Bungie, operating out of Bellevue, Washington, alleged that Claudiu-Florentin developed and sold cheat software that “hacks” the Destiny 2 software, providing players an unfair competitive advantage against others and violating Bungie’s software license agreement (LSLA). The cheat software, referred to as the “VeteranCheats Hack,” was marketed and sold through the website Veterancheats.com, infringing on four of Bungie’s copyrights related to Destiny 2 and its expansion, “Destiny 2: Beyond Light.” Bungie also claimed that Claudiu-Florentin utilized copyrighted imagery from Destiny 2 to promote and sell the VeteranCheats Hack without authorization.

The Legal Claims

Bungie asserted several claims against Claudiu-Florentin, including copyright infringement, violations of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), breach of contract, intentional interference with contractual relations, and violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act (CPA). The gaming company sought a default judgment on all claims, requesting a total amount of USD 12,059,912.98, which includes statutory damages under the DMCA, actual damages for copyright infringement, and attorneys’ fees and costs.

The Judgment

The court granted the motion for default judgment in part, permanently enjoining Claudiu-Florentin from further infringing activities. Bungie alleged that the VeteranCheats Hack caused harm by diminishing the enjoyment of the game for non-cheating players and reducing its potential revenue from in-game sales. The court acknowledged the merits of Bungie’s claims for copyright infringement, DMCA violations, breach of contract, and intentional interference with contractual relations, but did not grant a default judgment for the CPA claim.

Implications for the Gaming Industry

This case underscores the ongoing battle between game developers and cheat software providers in the gaming industry. Bungie’s legal victory sends a clear message to cheat developers about the potential legal repercussions of their activities. The judgment not only provides financial redress for Bungie but also serves as a deterrent to others who might engage in similar infringing activities, safeguarding the integrity of the gaming environment.

Looking Ahead

While Bungie has secured a victory in this instance, the war against cheat software in the gaming industry is far from over. Developers and gaming companies will likely continue to face challenges in protecting their intellectual property and ensuring fair play in their gaming environments. This case sets a precedent and may pave the way for further legal actions against cheat developers, potentially curbing the proliferation of cheat software and enhancing the gaming experience for players across the globe.

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Sergey Galyonkin from Raleigh, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bungie, Inc. v. Claudiu-Florentin, Case No. 2:21-cv-01114-TL

Author

  • Leonid Shmatenko

    Leonid Shmatenko is part of Eversheds Sutherlands’ data protection and technology law team. He has vast experience in regulatory and general issues in the areas of eSports and Blockchain. He advises eSports associations and clubs on all legal issues, advises and supports crypto startups in all matters from planning, preparation to execution of private and public token offerings (so-called Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs). Furthermore, Leonid Shmatenko specializes in international arbitration and has participated in several arbitration proceedings (SAC, ICC, DIS, UNCITRAL, ICSID, ad hoc) as a party representative and secretary of the tribunal. Leonid Shmatenko studied at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and is currently pursuing a PhD in international law. After his successful first state examination (2011), he completed his legal clerkship, inter alia, at the German Embassy in Lima and within international law firms in Düsseldorf and Paris. He passed the second state examination in 2015. He is an external lecturer at the National Law University of Ukraine “Yaroslav Mudryi”, where he teaches International Investment Law. He is admitted to the Bar in Switzerland and Germany. Before joining Eversheds Sutherland, Leonid Shmatenko worked as an attorney at leading law firms in Geneva, Munich and Paris.

Doping & Cheating

A Guide to Valorant Ban Appeals incl. Template

“Game-Bans” are by far the most common type of participation ban, especially relevant not only in the esports domain but also in casual gaming. These bans are enforced through technical means, targeting a player’s account and preventing it from participating in the game’s official online multiplayer modes, such as matchmaking services or official multiplayer servers. The following article guides you through the process of appealing such a Valorant ban.

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Valorant Ban Guide and Template

Introduction

The range of rule violations sanctioned in this manner varies from minor disruptions of other participants’ gaming experience through “griefing” to forms of toxic behavior such as insults and harassment via text or voice chat, and even to serious infringements on the integrity of the game’s inherent competition like “cheating” and “exploiting.” Consequently, the spectrum of imposed sanctions is broad, ranging from short “timeouts” lasting a few minutes or hours, to temporary bans lasting several days or weeks, up to the so-called “permaban,” which permanently excludes an account.

A more severe version of the conventional game ban is the “hardware ban,” which not only locks the penalized player’s game account but also attempts to prevent the player from circumventing the ban by using a new game account, through the detection of technical identifiers of the respective device.

Valorant, Riot Games’ free-to-play First-Person Shooter (FPS), is at the forefront imposing strict rules to ensure a fair and enjoyable experience for all participants. However, disputes arise, and players sometimes find themselves on the wrong side of these regulations, facing bans for various reasons. This article outlines the common offenses leading to account bans in Valorant and provides a detailed guide on how to submit a ban appeal.

Common Reasons for Valorant Bans

Valorant’s terms of service are designed to create a competitive and respectful environment. Violations of these terms can lead to account suspensions or bans, for reasons including but not limited to:

  • Cheating: Utilizing third-party software or any form of unauthorized assistance is strictly forbidden.
  • Boosting and Account Sharing: Engaging in boosting services or sharing accounts compromises the game’s integrity.
  • Toxicity and Unsportsmanlike Conduct: Valorant enforces a zero-tolerance policy towards in-game toxicity and unsportsmanlike behavior, which can result in temporary or permanent bans.
  • Glitch or Bug Exploitation: Exploiting in-game glitches or bugs for an unfair advantage is prohibited.
  • Excessive Fire, Queue Dodging, and AFK: Repeated offenses of game disruption may lead to penalties, although a clean record can mitigate this risk.

It is important to note that penalties are not uniform; they vary based on the severity and nature of the offense. Some violations might result in immediate and severe consequences, including extended suspensions or permanent bans. An overview of the bans is provided below (source: Riot Games):

A Guide to Valorant Ban Appeals incl. Template

How to Appeal a Valorant Ban

For players who believe their Valorant ban or penalty was unjust or wish to appeal for reconsideration, Valorant provides a straightforward appeal process through Riot Games’ official website. Follow these steps to submit a ban appeal:

  1. Visit Riot Games’ Official Website: Navigate to the support section located at the top of the page.
  2. Submit a Ticket: Click on the “Submit a Ticket” button at the top of the Support center.
  3. Log In: If not already logged in, enter your Riot account credentials to access the appeal form.
  4. Select Appeal Category: Choose “Discuss Personal Suspension and Restriction” under the type selection.
  5. Fill Out the Appeal Form:
    • In the subject field, enter a concise headline such as “Valorant Ban Appeal.”
    • Provide your Riot ID in the designated box.
    • In the description (see Template below), thoroughly explain your situation and why you believe the ban should be reconsidered.
    • Under “Inquiry,” select “Discuss Game Bans” and specify the type of ban you are appealing, whether it’s for toxicity, cheating, account compromise, or an uncertain reason.
    • Attach any relevant files or evidence that could support your case.

Valorant Ban Appeal Template

ELN (Esports Legal News) is committed to assisting players navigate the complexities of game-related disputes and bans. Understanding the challenges players face when attempting to appeal bans, ELN has developed a comprehensive template designed to simplify the appeal process.

DISCLAIMER: Please note that the provided template and guidance are for informational purposes only and do not constitute legal advice. Utilizing this template does not guarantee a specific outcome, such as the lifting of a ban. It is designed to help articulate an appeal in a polite and constructive manner, which could potentially lead to a reconsideration of the ban.

Each case is unique, and the final decision rests with the game’s support team or relevant authority. Individuals seeking to appeal a ban should ensure that their submissions are honest and accurately reflect their situation, as the effectiveness of an appeal can vary based on the circumstances and evidence presented.

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Please be advised that any text enclosed in brackets […] within the template should be replaced with your individual data and specific details pertinent to your case. It is essential to personalize these sections to ensure your appeal accurately reflects the unique circumstances surrounding your situation. Tailoring the template with precise and relevant information will enhance the clarity and effectiveness of your submission, ultimately contributing to a more compelling argument for the reconsideration of your ban.

Please be aware that the circumstances outlined in the template must be tailored according to the specific details and needs of your situation. The effectiveness of your appeal largely depends on the accuracy and relevance of the information you provide.

It is crucial to carefully adjust the narrative and evidence to reflect your personal experiences and the context of the ban. Honesty and a clear articulation of your circumstances can contribute significantly to the constructive presentation of your case. Remember, a personalized appeal that accurately represents your situation and adheres to the principles of politeness and constructiveness is more likely to be received positively.


Dear Riot Games Player Support,

I am writing to formally appeal the ban imposed on my Valorant account ([Your Riot ID]), effective [Date of Ban]. This correspondence seeks a review and subsequent revocation of the said ban, which I believe was issued under mistaken circumstances.

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Introduction

I, [Your Full Name], with the Riot ID [Your Riot ID], wish to appeal against the sanctions applied to my account as of [Date of Ban]. My intent is to clarify the circumstances that led to the imposition of the ban and to present evidence countering the rationale for such action.

To the best of my knowledge, my account was suspended for violating Valorant’s terms of service, specifically under the category of [Specify the Reason for Ban, e.g., “Toxicity/Unsportsmanlike Conduct”]. The notification received did not provide a detailed explanation of the incident(s) that led to this decision, thereby limiting my understanding and ability to rectify the situation.

Grounds for Appeal

I believe the ban imposed on my account was a result of a misunderstanding stemming from an incident that occurred in a match dated [Insert Date], during a high-stress competitive game. In this match, I was reported for “toxic behavior” following a heated exchange with another player [Insert Nickname, if possible]. However, I wish to clarify the context of this exchange to illustrate why the ban may have been unjustified.

The disagreement began when a team member began to intentionally sabotage our game by “throwing” or deliberately playing poorly to ensure we would lose. In an attempt to address the situation, I engaged in what I now recognize was a confrontational manner, which escalated the situation. My intention was not to harass or insult the player but to encourage a more team-oriented approach to the game.

Following the match, I took immediate steps to remedy the situation by reaching out to the player in question to apologize for my part in the conflict, emphasizing my commitment to maintaining a positive gaming environment. This exchange in WhatsApp, which I believe was received positively, is attached as Exhibit A.

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Additionally, I have always strived to uphold the community standards set forth by Riot Games, with this incident being an isolated case in an otherwise exemplary record, as demonstrated by my player history and positive interactions with the community, detailed in Exhibit B.

Given the context of the incident and my immediate efforts to resolve the misunderstanding, I believe the ban on my account does not reflect the entirety of the situation and may have been an unjustified response to a singular, resolved altercation.

Request for Review
Based on the above-stated grounds, I respectfully request the reconsideration of the ban on my Valorant account. I believe that the evidence and context provided sufficiently demonstrate that the ban either was a misunderstanding or does not warrant the severity of the current penalty.

I am fully committed to adhering strictly to Valorant’s Community Code and terms of service. I understand the importance of maintaining a respectful and fair gaming environment and hereby pledge to uphold these principles diligently moving forward.

I am willing to provide further information or clarification as required and can be reached at [Your Email Address] or [Your Phone Number]. Thank you for considering my appeal. I look forward to your response and hope for a positive resolution to this matter.

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Sincerely,

[Your Full Name]
[Your Riot ID]
Attachments: Exhibits A-[Last Exhibit Letter]

Author

  • Leonid Shmatenko

    Leonid Shmatenko is part of Eversheds Sutherlands’ data protection and technology law team. He has vast experience in regulatory and general issues in the areas of eSports and Blockchain. He advises eSports associations and clubs on all legal issues, advises and supports crypto startups in all matters from planning, preparation to execution of private and public token offerings (so-called Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs). Furthermore, Leonid Shmatenko specializes in international arbitration and has participated in several arbitration proceedings (SAC, ICC, DIS, UNCITRAL, ICSID, ad hoc) as a party representative and secretary of the tribunal. Leonid Shmatenko studied at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and is currently pursuing a PhD in international law. After his successful first state examination (2011), he completed his legal clerkship, inter alia, at the German Embassy in Lima and within international law firms in Düsseldorf and Paris. He passed the second state examination in 2015. He is an external lecturer at the National Law University of Ukraine “Yaroslav Mudryi”, where he teaches International Investment Law. He is admitted to the Bar in Switzerland and Germany. Before joining Eversheds Sutherland, Leonid Shmatenko worked as an attorney at leading law firms in Geneva, Munich and Paris.

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Understanding the Illegality of “Ringing” in Esports: Fisher Falcons Banned

In the highly competitive realm of esports, integrity and fair play are paramount. However, instances of misconduct occasionally surface, undermining the spirit of competition and necessitating strict regulatory measures. A recent decision involving the Fisher Falcons during their Season 9 performance highlights a severe breach of conduct known as “ringing” or account sharing. This article delves into the legalities of ringing and the related rules that govern esports competitions.

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Fisher Falcons Banned ELN

What is “Ringing” in Esports?

Ringing occurs when a player secretly participates in a game under another person’s account. Essentially, it is the use of a “ringer,” a person brought into a team under false pretenses, typically to secure an unfair competitive advantage. The ringer is often a highly skilled player, unknown to the opposing team and not registered as part of the official team roster. Account sharing, closely associated with ringing, involves players allowing others to use their gaming accounts, a practice that may lead to a variety of competitive integrity issues, including but not limited to ringing.

The integrity of esports competitions hinges on each player and team adhering to established rules. When it comes to legal implications, ringing is treated as a fraudulent act, as it misrepresents a player’s identity and undermines the fairness of the competition. The legal framework for dealing with such issues is usually outlined in the terms and conditions or the rules of the competition. As observed in the case of Fisher Falcons, ringing and account sharing are classified as illegal (Section 2.2.5 of the Rules), indicating a clear contractual prohibition against such behavior.

The Role of MOSS in Ensuring Fair Play

MOSS, which stands for “Monitor System Status,” is an anti-cheating tool used to monitor the systems of players during matches. It is a Free to use Anti-cheat for most of the FPS competitive games. Moss is unique for it’s wide games support and macros detections features Moss. It ensures that no unauthorized programs or modifications are being used that could give a player an unfair advantage. Teams are required to retain MOSS files for the duration of the competition (Section 2.4.1 of the Rules). These files serve as essential evidence in maintaining transparency and are crucial for post-match reviews in case of any disputes or accusations of cheating.

Tier 3 Punishments and Their Implications

In the esports regulatory structure, different tiers of punishments correspond to the severity of the misconduct. Tier 3 (T3) punishments are on the more severe end of the spectrum. For Fisher Falcons, this entailed round, match, and/or season forfeiture, a clear indication of the gravity of their violation. Moreover, they faced potential competition bans for future seasons, underscoring the long-term impact such infractions can have on a team’s esports trajectory. The severity of the punishment is tailored to the seriousness of the offense and is meant to serve as both a penalty and a deterrent to other teams.

The Fisher Falcons Case: A Precedent for Compliance

The ruling against Fisher Falcons stripped them of their position in Season 9 of the CollegiateR6 Tournament, nullified any prizes, and barred them from competition until the end of Season 10. This case sets a significant precedent, underscoring the no-tolerance policy towards ringing and account sharing. The punitive measures send a resounding message to all teams about the importance of compliance with the rules to ensure fairness and integrity in esports.

Ensuring Future Integrity in Esports

The stringent enforcement of anti-ringing regulations is designed not only to penalize but also to prevent future incidents. It is a reminder that competitive integrity is at the core of esports, and maintaining a level playing field is essential for the growth and acceptance of esports as a legitimate form of competitive endeavor.

Conclusion

The esports sector is constantly changing, with laws and regulations being established and improved to guarantee fairness and honesty in competition. The example of the Fisher Falcons demonstrates the dedicated effort made by esports governing bodies to uphold the competitive essence. As esports becomes more popular and competitive, it is essential for everyone participating – players, teams, and organizers – to maintain the standards that elevate competitive gaming as a respected sport.

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To sum up, ringing is not just a violation of trust but also a major legal offense within the esports community. By working together, regulatory bodies and the community can ensure that esports thrives in a fair environment where success is based on skill and strategy, not dishonest tactics such as ringing or account sharing.

Author

  • Leonid Shmatenko

    Leonid Shmatenko is part of Eversheds Sutherlands’ data protection and technology law team. He has vast experience in regulatory and general issues in the areas of eSports and Blockchain. He advises eSports associations and clubs on all legal issues, advises and supports crypto startups in all matters from planning, preparation to execution of private and public token offerings (so-called Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs). Furthermore, Leonid Shmatenko specializes in international arbitration and has participated in several arbitration proceedings (SAC, ICC, DIS, UNCITRAL, ICSID, ad hoc) as a party representative and secretary of the tribunal. Leonid Shmatenko studied at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and is currently pursuing a PhD in international law. After his successful first state examination (2011), he completed his legal clerkship, inter alia, at the German Embassy in Lima and within international law firms in Düsseldorf and Paris. He passed the second state examination in 2015. He is an external lecturer at the National Law University of Ukraine “Yaroslav Mudryi”, where he teaches International Investment Law. He is admitted to the Bar in Switzerland and Germany. Before joining Eversheds Sutherland, Leonid Shmatenko worked as an attorney at leading law firms in Geneva, Munich and Paris.

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Doping & Cheating

Apex Legends’ Hacking Scandal Shakes North American Finals

In a situation more resembling a cyberpunk story than an esports competition, the Apex Legends North American Finals were disrupted by a complex hack. This was not caused by typical technical issues or scheduling conflicts, but was a deliberate addition of cheats into the games of professional players, leading to a major scandal.

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Apex Legends Hack ELN

Apex Legends’ Professional players found themselves unwilling recipients of game-breaking cheats like aimbots and wallhacks amidst the competition. This serious breach of integrity prompted Respawn Entertainment and EA to stop the event immediately, aiming to protect the competitive environment and investigate the breach’s extent.

Respawn’s Initial Response and Lingering Questions

While Respawn aimed to reassure with a statement about immediate actions taken, specifics about the hack were not disclosed, including rumors of a remote code execution exploit. Its statement reads:

“On Sunday, a few professional Apex Legends player accounts were hacked during an ALGS event. Game and player security are our highest priorities, which is why we paused the competition to address the issue immediately. Our teams have deployed the first of a layered series of updates to protect the Apex Legends player community and create a secure experience for everyone. Thank you for your patience.”

The situation has been further complicated by the hacker known as Destroyer2009, notorious for targeting professional players, suggesting a sophisticated ability to manipulate the game remotely.

Easy Anti Cheat (EAC) quickly clarified that the issue did not stem from their software, emphasizing their confidence in its security:

“We have investigated recent reports of a potential RCE issue within Easy Anti-Cheat. At this time – we are confident that there is no RCE vulnerability within EAC being exploited. We will continue to work closely with our partners for any follow up support needed.”

However, the breach has ignited a broader debate about the effectiveness of anti-cheat systems and the evolving sophistication of cheats in esports.

A slight decrease in Apex Legends’ Steam player count indicates community concern, though many continue to play. The incident highlights the ongoing battle between hackers and developers, underscoring the need for robust security measures in esports.

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Hacker’s Motivations Revealed

The hack, which specifically targeted two professional players during the North American finals, sent shockwaves through the community, raising concerns about the security of casual gameplay. Despite assurances from the hacker that the exploit did not extend beyond the game’s processes, the incident has left many players uneasy.

Destroyer2009 now claimed their actions were “just for fun” in a TechCrunch interview. They aimed to highlight a security flaw, urging Respawn to address it, claiming the hack was a benevolent gesture to prevent potential misuse that could ruin careers.

Respawn’s Ongoing Response

This incident ranks among the most ridiculous and shameful moments in the history of esports competitions, regardless of the game. Respawn should provide a thorough explanation of the situation, detailing what occurred, what information may have been compromised, and their strategies for preventing future incidents.

Responding to the hack, Respawn has initiated a series of updates to enhance security, emphasizing their commitment to a secure playing environment.

With information from: TechCrunch, Kotaku, and Forbes

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Author

  • Leonid Shmatenko

    Leonid Shmatenko is part of Eversheds Sutherlands’ data protection and technology law team. He has vast experience in regulatory and general issues in the areas of eSports and Blockchain. He advises eSports associations and clubs on all legal issues, advises and supports crypto startups in all matters from planning, preparation to execution of private and public token offerings (so-called Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs). Furthermore, Leonid Shmatenko specializes in international arbitration and has participated in several arbitration proceedings (SAC, ICC, DIS, UNCITRAL, ICSID, ad hoc) as a party representative and secretary of the tribunal. Leonid Shmatenko studied at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and is currently pursuing a PhD in international law. After his successful first state examination (2011), he completed his legal clerkship, inter alia, at the German Embassy in Lima and within international law firms in Düsseldorf and Paris. He passed the second state examination in 2015. He is an external lecturer at the National Law University of Ukraine “Yaroslav Mudryi”, where he teaches International Investment Law. He is admitted to the Bar in Switzerland and Germany. Before joining Eversheds Sutherland, Leonid Shmatenko worked as an attorney at leading law firms in Geneva, Munich and Paris.

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