IPE Update: Motion To Dismiss Digital Homicide Lawsuit Presented


Romine V Stanton refers to the ongoing lawsuit between James Romine (Digital Homicide) and James Stanton (Jim Sterling) over alleged defamation by the latter causing damage to the reputation and sales of the former. Last we heard, James Romine had filed a motion to amend his complaint and is now suing for over $15 million in damages, including $5 million in emotional distress. The defense, on April 5th, filed a motion to delay their response which was granted with the new deadline being May 5th.

Well the deadline is here and the response was filed yesterday, finally giving us a response from Stanton and his lawyers, of which he has two. James Romine is still being represented by himself, owing to the fact that he can’t get a lawyer to take his case. The brunt of the 31 page response aims to persuade the judge to dismiss the case on the grounds that Arizona does not have jurisdiction over the case, seeing as Stanton has no presence in the state, makes no sales in the state, nor is he aware if anyone does or does not watch his videos from Arizona. Humorously, he also notes that he has never even visited the state.

Stanton’s response is a motion to dismiss the case, defending his writing/videos as protected speech and that commentary on DHS is clearly opinion. I’ll let Stanton sum it up:

 I am appalled that my opinions and writings on the subject of DHS, its games, and its use of an alias on the Steam service to distribute its games can serve as a basis for a libel lawsuit. As a writer and entertainer, I am well within my legal right to express my opinions, disclose my discoveries, and be part of online commentary regarding video game companies like DHS and video game distribution services like Steam. The Article is clearly protected speech and use of words like “chicanery,” “the Wet Bandits,” “weirdness” and “weeeeird” to describe DHS is clearly opinion.

MMO Fallout will have an update hopefully early next week on how Judge Tuchi rules.

Digital Homicide, Jim Sterling, Lawyers, Slander, And A Lesson In Legality


Digital Homicide is an enigma. All but one of its games carries a “mostly negative” rating on Steam, its games are critically panned mostly for being lazy, uninspired hobby projects cobbled together with pre-made Unity assets, and the developer is constantly getting into childish squabbles with internet critics like Jim Sterling. Despite the overwhelmingly negative response to his games, Digital Homicide continues to pump out more and more asset flips. As of this writing, DH has 18 games on Greenlight.

If you don’t follow Jim Sterling on Youtube, you may not be aware of the ongoing feud between the Youtube personality and Digital Homicide over the former’s very negative coverage of the latter’s video games. The back and forth banter culminated in a rather lengthy interview last July in which Digital Homicide threatened to sue Sterling. Nearly a year later and it looks like Digital Homicide is making good on their word, and has filed a lawsuit in Arizona district court.

Now neither side are discussing the details of the lawsuit, and for good reason. Talking about a court case in the middle of litigation can backfire and potentially lose the case. Basically lawyers are afraid that the person will say something stupid or incriminating and wind up blowing their arguments. James of Digital Homicide wants to make the details of the case very clear once it is over.

I have an excellent lawyer very interested in this case but they only take retainer. Very few lawyers take contingency now for defamation lawsuits.  For this reason I will also be documenting the process of this lawsuit(not the contents or personal information) and making it publicly viewable after the case is over so that others in similar dire situations can figure out how to defend themselves from online harassers and defamers.

Very few lawyers take contingency for defamation lawsuits because doing so would likely mean not getting paid. Luckily, you don’t have to wait for the case to be over to view, as MMO Fallout has access to the Arizona public court records and will be adding this case to our In Plain English coverage.

Despite his claim of an “excellent lawyer,” James has gone ahead and filed the lawsuit early. An attempt at crowdfunding his lawsuit of Sterling was quickly shut down over claims that people were charging and then quickly using chargebacks to hit Romine with fees. Court dockets list James Oliver Romine Jr. as a “Pro Se Litigant,” meaning Romine is representing himself without a lawyer. Romine is claiming in excess of $2.636 million $10 million USD in libel property damage. Romine has invoked 28 US Code 1332 which grants district court jurisdiction in civil matters where the damages exceed $75 thousand and is between citizens.

Interestingly, the case also invokes International Shoe Co. V Washington, a lawsuit from 1945 in which the courts ruled that a shoe company with salesmen that sold shoes in the state were subject to Washington jurisdiction when the state sued to recover unpaid unemployment fees. Romine is claiming in the dockets that Sterling’s videos being available in Arizona is enough to give jurisdiction even though Sterling himself does not live within the district.

Romine is suing Sterling and claims in his blog post that he will be suing the people leaving anonymous mocking comments, whom he believes to be overseas competitors, and is simply building a case file for the time being.

If you believe being anonymous will prevent you from recieving said justice you will be surpised when the summons shows up, this goes for competitors in foreign markets using alternate accounts as you may be foreign by you will be sued in the US. This is the first case. More are expected to be filed soon.

What Romine may not understand about US defamation/slander law is that winning the lawsuit is heavily slanted against the plaintiff, especially when dealing with a public figure such as himself. The plaintiff is required to prove, beyond a doubt, that their reputations were harmed as a result of the allegedly slanderous material. In order to prove harm, Romine must provide quantifiable damages.

Romine claims he has been falsely accused of:

  • Stealing artwork
  • Stealing assets
  • Flipping projects with no work put in
  • Doxing
  • Had products misrepresented with intention to do damage
  • Of illegally using another companies name
  • Conducting illegal business activities
  • Impersonating someone
  • Being incompetent and unable to perform my job

For the record, Digital Homicide was caught stealing assets and artwork which Romine admitted to in his interview with Sterling and blamed on being a new developer, the same interview containing a thinly veiled threat of doxing, and we have covered here on MMO Fallout that Digital Homicide has used multiple company names in the past, including one of an established developer.

As is custom here at MMO Fallout, we will be offering regular updates as they become available. I may space out coverage depending on how quickly the case proceeds because access to the documents is not free and can very quickly add up and get expensive depending on how many there are and how long each document is.

In Plain English: The Curious Case Of Jagex V John Doe


Those of you who play RuneScape or World of Warcraft are likely well acquainted with a popular phishing technique that made its rounds over the past few years, or at least you would be if you took a gander through your spam filter. The email warns players that they’ve been caught either botting or engaging in real money trading, and that further cheating will add them to a list of John Does in a pending lawsuit. While the email links to a fake login page designed to steal your account information, you might be surprised to know that the body of the email itself is indeed legitimate, or I should say was originally written by a legitimate source.

Jagex once filed lawsuit against cheaters, and it didn’t end in their favor.

No, seriously. I reported on this way back when it initially happened, getting confirmation from Jagex and from the central district court of California where the lawsuit was filed. The email cites both a valid case file and specific laws under which Jagex planned to file suit. The email threatened users that they could be hit with a fine ranging anywhere from $200 to $2500 per act of botting, past, present, and future. Recipients were informed that their accounts were on watch, and that they would be granted a one-time leniency. Cheat again, and be sued.

A bold move, certainly, but one that you wouldn’t really need a law degree to know is total bunk. While bot makers have been successfully sued in the past, cheating in a video game is not in itself a crime and there isn’t legal precedent in the United States to take a contrary position. For that matter, there isn’t a law specifically prohibiting making cheats either. In the past, developers like Jagex and Blizzard have gone down various avenues to shut down bot makers. Accusations include everything from DMCA violations by bypassing anti-bot software, copyright violations for using the game’s logo/trademark/assets without permission, receiving and then violating injunctions against maintaining the software, and raising costs/damaging revenue due to increased customer service and lost business from disgruntled customers.

But as far as players go, while there isn’t any precedent in the successful prosecution of cheaters, there is in their defense. In the case of Blizzard V Glider, the 9th circuit court of appeals ruled that the Glider bot did not violate Blizzard’s copyright because it didn’t modify the software. As a result, using the bot software was not illegal, noting that Blizzard cannot claim copyright infringement just because their terms of service prohibit such activity.

The court notes:

Were we to hold otherwise, Blizzard — or any software copyright holder — could designate any disfavored conduct during software use as copyright infringement, by purporting to condition the license on the player’s abstention from the disfavored conduct. The rationale would be that because the conduct occurs while the player’s computer is copying the software code into RAM in order for it to run, the violation is copyright infringement. This would allow software copyright owners far greater rights than Congress has generally conferred on copyright owners.

While we will likely never know how many people Jagex targeted with these emails, we do know that the lawsuit specifically mentions ten John Doe defendants. In July 2011, the court approved a motion for Jagex to serve Paypal in order to obtain information on the defendants, with the addition that in the event that Paypal is unable to provide sufficient information, Jagex could go after the ISP of each John Doe to get more data.

The lawsuit references four attorneys representing Jagex, two of whom had to be approved by a judge to appear “pro hac vice,” allowing the lawyers to practice in jurisdictions that they are not licensed. Following the court dockets, Judge Cormac J. Carney approved both applications on July 6th and 7th. At this point, the lawsuit goes dark for a while.

Fast forward five months and on December 1, 2011, Jagex files an ex parte application for a hearing telephonic status conference. A telephonic status conference is essentially where the plaintiff gets in touch, by telephone, with the judge’s clerk to let them know how the case is proceeding, to ensure that requirements set out by the court are being kept, and to resolve any other issues before a trial. It’s pretty standard, but in John Doe cases the courts have a tendency to lose their patience when the investigation phase drags on.

On December 9th, Judge Carney rejected the application with no documented opinion. The following month, January 20th 2012, Jagex filed a notice of voluntary dismissal, dropping all charges. There are no official opinions noted either by Judge Carney or by Jagex in their dismissal, but the answer should be obvious. They didn’t have a case, the court likely recognized it as a waste of time or the judge requested that they show up in person and they never did, and everyone went home with nothing accomplished.

I should make a note here that I reached out to Jagex’s press relations in the hopes of at least giving them a chance to comment, and I received no response. It’s hard to imagine that Jagex intended this to be any more than a scare tactic to hopefully convince some teenagers and the occasional person using bots to make money, to change their ways. It took about forty minutes of searching court dockets to find precedent against cheaters being sued, in an appeal case ruled one year prior.

The original copyright ruling against Glider cited a court ruling from 1993 that stated a technician operating a computer for the purposes of repair constituted a copyright violation, in that the technician creates an unauthorized copy when the program is started and loaded into RAM. That provision of the case was overruled with an addition to title 17 of the United States Code dealing with maintenance or repair, however since the defendant had unauthorized copies of the software on their computer, they were still found guilty.

So now you know the story of when Jagex filed lawsuit against ten unnamed bot users. If I do get a response from Jagex, I’ll put it up at the top.

If you have any thoughts, drop us a comment in the box below.

Changyou Plays The Victim With Project Tank Lawsuit


It takes a certain kind of person to deny any wrongdoing when they are caught with their hand in the cookie jar, while their hand is still in the jar. But once you’re caught, you might as well try to save face and play the victim, right? With the lawsuit moving forward by Wargaming.net over Project Tank stealing from World of Tanks, Changyou has posted the following on the Project Tank Facebook game client. The red text and quotation marks are their emphasis, not mine.

Wargaming.net LLP (developer & publisher of World of Tanks) has recently launched a series of underhand actions against Project Tank, including using their connections to shut down our facebook page (http:/www.facebook.com/projecttankofficial), over PT’??s purported “??infringement”? of their intellectual property rights.

Continuously sabotaged by Wargaming, Project Tank and Gamebox have never intended to pose a threat or compete at any platform with World of Tanks. The graphics used in Project Tank are our efforts to reconstruct WWII battle scenes. We feel truly shocked and bullied by Wargaming, a giant company of the gaming industry who is apparently “threatened”? by a closed beta phase browser game aiming to provide a cheaper, fairer, and more accessible war game to players around the world.

As we are dealing with this issue with legal measures to protect this game, the PT closed beta has now come to an end. The open beta server will be open in approximately a month. Please go to the link below to leave your email address to receive your reward (for open beta server) and updates of Project Tank.

Wargaming Sues Chinese Developer Over World of Tanks Ripoff


There are only two certainties in life: Death, and that if there is a product in existence, China has ripped it off and claimed it as its own. Now you can find a ripoff of just about anything in China, including MMO Fallout as I recently discovered. Litigation against these companies is generally extremely difficult, if not impossible, in part because copyright infringement apparently does not translate into Mandarin. I say this with the full knowledge that any time I talk about China being infamous for ripping off products, that MMO Fallout will probably be hit with a surge of attempts at breaking into the site. Twenty six thousand attempts in April, and still going strong.

World of Tanks developer Wargaming is taking the fight head on by filing a lawsuit against the developer of Project Tank, Chinese companies Changyou and Gamease. So how does a company steal a game based on tanks that existed in reality? By using the exact same historical inaccuracies and stealing the tanks that did not exist as well, according to Wargaming.

“Copying is evidenced by the fact that the designers of Project Tank copied historical inaccuracies found in WOT, each of which does not affect gameplay but which was included in WOT to simplify the tank modelling and rendering process. Copying is further evidenced by the fact that the designers of Project Tank copied tanks from WOT that never existed in real life, and which included features original to WOT.”

The Project Tank closed beta has been shut down with a message calling Wargaming’s litigation “bullying.” Wargaming is seeking damages and an injunction against Changyou.

(Source: Polygon)

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