EULAs Inability to Stop Lineage II Lawsuit

September 3, 2010 -

A judge’s ruling earlier last month that Craig Smallwood’s lawsuit against Lineage II maker NCsoft could continue (a suit in which Smallwood claimed he was addicted to the game), could have an impact on End User Licensing Agreements (EULA).

A lawyer at Princeton’s Center for Information Technology Policy named Steven Roosa took to his blog (thanks Slashdot) to discuss the Smallwood case, using the headline “A Software License Agreement Takes it on the Chin.”

Roosa detailed NCsoft’s attempt to stop the lawsuit by using Section 12 of its User Agreement, which is entitled “Limitation of Liability.” The judge eventually only partially granted NCsoft’s motion to dismiss.

Roosa wrote:

The Court determined that the User Agreement contained a valid “choice of law” provision stating that Texas law would govern the interpretation of the contract. However, the Court then ruled that both Texas and Hawaii law did not permit people to waive in advance their ability to make gross negligence claims. The plaintiff's remaining negligence claims survived as well.

The claims based on gross negligence remained viable for the full range of tort damages, including punitive damages, whereas the straight-up negligence-based claims would be subject to the contractually agreed on limitation on damages.

This is significant, according to Roosa, because the gross negligence claim survived, but also because “having the right to sue for “gross negligence” is the functional equivalent of having the right to sue for straight-up negligence as well—thus radically broadening the scope of claims that (according to the court) cannot be waived in a User Agreement.”

The unfolding events in the Smallwood case caused Roosa to proclaim:

The Smallwood decision, if it stands, may achieve some lasting significance in the software license wars.

A Wall Street Journal article on the subject answered Roosa’s above proclamation with the response, “Let's hope not. Because a new opportunity for parasitic litigation isn't exactly the way to boost technological progress.”

If Smallwood’s lawsuit was eventually tossed, the WSJ author wrote:

And a good thing that would be, because discovering some newly elastic definition of injury, combined with an expanded concept of "gross negligence" would be just the stuff to spur a new tortious gold rush. Do we want the tech biz focused on innovation or litigation?

The Journal writer also took an unnecessary potshot at gamers. Smallwood’s claims of being “unable to function independently” and suffering from "distress and depression” caused the author write:

Mr. Smallwood did not specify how this differs from the condition of the average video-game aficionado.

Jerk.


Comments

Re: EULAs Inability to Stop Lineage II Lawsuit

Conflicted on this.  I don't think the developer should be held liable for his problem, but on the other hand I think EULA's frequently overreach and ask users to give up rights that they legally can't.

In a nutshell, I think the judge made the right call at THIS step in the case; that EULA was illegal -- but I still hope the case ultimately gets decided in NCsoft's favor.

Re: EULAs Inability to Stop Lineage II Lawsuit

Hehe, his last name is Smallwood...

Re: EULAs Inability to Stop Lineage II Lawsuit

"Mr. Smallwood did not specify how this differs from the condition of the average video-game aficionado."

If this is the case, then video games are in-fact addictive, and we should sue all developers and publishers of video games for addicting us to this terrible hobby.

Just indicating the flawed logic of the Wall Street Journal editor. Though I suppose this doesn't differ from the condition of the average newspaper editor.

Re: EULAs Inability to Stop Lineage II Lawsuit

You forgot sueing authors and book publishers because I'm addicted to reading. After all anything that brings pleasure is potentially addicting.

Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

Hunting the shadows of the troubled dreams.

Re: EULAs Inability to Stop Lineage II Lawsuit

I'm not sure how I feel about this news. While on one hand I think many EULAs are a bit... nuts, and should be limited, on the other hand I think this lawsuit is BS and I don't want it to make any progress at all.

Re: EULAs Inability to Stop Lineage II Lawsuit

Does NCSoft have to loose for this ruling to stand?

my vanity is justified

my vanity is justified

Re: EULAs Inability to Stop Lineage II Lawsuit

This was on a motion to dismiss the case outright, and the ruling means that the trial goes forward. NCSoft could very well win the resulting trial, but this ruling would still stand and can serve to establish precedent in other cases.

In fact, the only way the ruling would be challenged, is if NCSoft were to lose the resulting trial, and then challenge the motion to dismiss on appeal. If NCSoft prevails at trial, no one is going to care how they got there, and the motion ruling will therefore survive as a precedent.

So I'm kinda hoping NCSoft wins the resulting case. Besides, I don't want to see a legal ruling that says MMOs are addictive...

 

Re: EULAs Inability to Stop Lineage II Lawsuit

Seconded.  The idea that you can sue someone because you're mentally ill and as a result became addicted to their product (if we even assume video game addiction is valid at all) is scary.

"I was always feeling anxious but this tea calmed me down.  It got so I couldn't function without it.  I always had to have a mug in my hand.  I lost my life to that damned tea!"  (Agreed it's extreme, but that's kind of the point.)

===============

Chris Kimberley

===============

Chris Kimberley

Re: EULAs Inability to Stop Lineage II Lawsuit

I love that giant bullshit assumption by the WSJ that any time and money a business saves by not litigating will automatically be used to create more useful innovations consumers can use.  That's simply not how businesses operate in the real world.

my vanity is justified

my vanity is justified

Re: EULAs Inability to Stop Lineage II Lawsuit

It's the WSJ, what did you expect? Their editorial department was worthless even before the Bancrofts sold it to Rupert Murdoch. (Although, to be fair, the Bancroft-era WSJ was a hell of a lot better at keeping news and editorial seperate than anything with the Fox name on it.)

Re: EULAs Inability to Stop Lineage II Lawsuit

Any money the business saves goes into the pockets of the CEOs.

 
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Andrew EisenIf you do, I hope you can provide some examples of people (again, other than random no-name numbnuts on Twitter) who are genuinely trying to dictate what should and should not be allowed so far as themes, topics, language, plot devices, etc. go.07/01/2015 - 9:43am
MattsworknameI'd go into why I think it's a bigger problem then most realize, but nows not the time really. I'll catch up with everyone later07/01/2015 - 9:42am
Andrew EisenThat's the thing though, rarely is anyone (again, other than random numbnuts on Twitter) attempting to dictate what can and cannot be said or done.07/01/2015 - 9:39am
Andrew Eisen"Don't write rape scenes" is being offered as advice (along with reasons for that advice) not a mandate.07/01/2015 - 9:37am
MattsworknameOh, on that last one andrew I wasn't talking about the article, I was being more general, lately it seems like all the news and media is trying to decide what is and isn't proper to say. Thats what i was refering to.07/01/2015 - 9:37am
Andrew EisenPerhaps you should consider reading the entire article. Despite quotes you can pull from the intro and conclusion, the author isn't arguing that you can't or shouldn't be allowed to cover a certain topic.07/01/2015 - 9:35am
MattsworknameOne of the things I hate right now is that people are trying to be the deciders of what is and isn't proper to be said. It's political correctness to a level that makes me angry.07/01/2015 - 9:29am
Mattsworknamemake them, i just tell peopel that I think what they did sucked. Just cause I dont like what they did, doesn't mean I can tell them "You shouldn't wrtie that" cause thats just another step on the way to telling them "YOU CANT WRITE THAT".07/01/2015 - 9:24am
MattsworknameNo, but you or I aren't the one to tell someone else what they can or cannot do beyond EXTREMELY narrow limits. Telling a person then shouldn't write something or say something. I may hate certain movies or music, doesn't mean I dont' tell peopel not to07/01/2015 - 9:23am
E. Zachary KnightHasbro is taking steps to fix its Dinosaur gender issues. http://io9.com/the-jurassic-world-dinosaur-toys-are-clever-girls-again-171513589607/01/2015 - 9:20am
TechnogeekImagine that level of accuracy, only applied to something that has actually caused physiological and psychological trauma in more cases than just whatever the equivalent of the CD-i Zelda games would be.07/01/2015 - 8:40am
TechnogeekThat's the issue I see as well, E. To put it in terms anyone reading this site will likely understand: you know how any time video games show up on TV, they feature absurdly outdated 3D graphics and/or audio from the Intellivison era?07/01/2015 - 8:40am
InfophileWell, you CAN go to a crowded streetcorner and tell everyone who passes by your social security number and bank account PIN, but you shouldn't. Is that censorship?07/01/2015 - 8:36am
E. Zachary KnightSo if it is going to turn out to be a bad scene, why even bother writing it?07/01/2015 - 8:07am
E. Zachary KnightMatts, Goth, The article, and others I have read making the same conclusion, state that most people fail in their attempts to write rape scenes without being overly offensive or overly incompetent in their attempt.07/01/2015 - 8:07am
Adam802http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Ex-Sen-Leland-Yee-may-be-headed-for-a-plea-deal-6358941.php07/01/2015 - 7:12am
Adam802Possible plea deal in Yee case: http://www.mercurynews.com/crime-courts/ci_28408532/leland-yee-case-plea-deal-appears-likely07/01/2015 - 7:11am
MattsworknameInfo, Im with goth on this, the moment people start saying "You can but you shouldnt" thats a slow slide into censorship07/01/2015 - 6:05am
InfophileIn other words, you stopped when you found out it was arguing for a position you disagreed with, but before you found out why.07/01/2015 - 5:29am
Goth_Skunk"In short, anyone can write a rape scene—but should they? Chances are, the answer is no." And that's where I stopped reading.07/01/2015 - 5:11am
 

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