In Plain English: Epic Sues Two Fortnite Cheat Creators

I’m not entirely happy with the press coverage of Epic Games’ lawsuit. If you’ve been reading the news this week, you may be under the impression that Epic Games was so angry about two particular players cheating in Fortnite that the game developer decided to take these two individuals to court. This isn’t exactly the case.

Epic Games has filed complaints against Charles Vraspir and Brandon Boom in separate cases in North Carolina district court. Unsurprisingly, Epic has chosen to go with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act for their main point of attack, alleging that the cheats involve illegally modifying the game code. By going for copyright infringement, Epic is looking to slap both defendants with some potentially hefty fines (up to $150,000 each) plus damages and any additional profits that the defendants made from the sale of said cheats. In the interim, Epic is seeking an injunction preventing the defendants from continuing to use and advertise said cheat programs.

One interesting note in this lawsuit that may help their case is intent. The lawsuit docket makes several notes of both Vraspir and Boom stating that their goal is to ruin the business viability of Fortnite by making the game as unbearable to play as possible.

In an effort to adversely impact as many people as possible while playing and cheating at Fortnite, Defendant specifically targets streamers. He has declared that it is his objective to prevent streamers from winning the game and has boasted in online cheating discussion channels that his goal is to “stream snipe,” i.e., kill streamers as they stream. Defendant has said that making streamers hate Fortnite is Defendant “in a nutshell.”

Epic also alleges that Vraspir’s conduct may be related to the fact that he was banned from Fortnite PvE for cheating:

 

Defendant’s unlawful conduct may be the result of a misplaced antipathy towards Epic because he was banned from Epic for cheating.

This is known in court as the famous “u mad” strategy.

Now those of you who read In Plain English know that the legality of cheating has come up in the past. The court ruled that the use of bot software in World of Warcraft did not constitute copyright infringement because the software itself was found to not violate Blizzard’s copyright. If the software is found to be violating Epic’s copyright by making illegal modifications or by violating DMCA rules in circumventing protections, it could spell trouble.

This is a copyright infringement and breach of contract case in which the Defendant is infringing Epic’s copyrights by injecting unauthorized computer code into the copyright protected code of Epic’s popular Fortnite® video game. In so doing, Defendant is creating unauthorized derivative works of Fortnite by modifying the game code and, thus, materially altering the game that the code creates and the experience of those who play it.

The Fortnite cheat in question has been discontinued on the cheat maker’s website, along with a Paragon cheat that was similarly discontinued over legal disputes from Epic.

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