EBay Seller Sues Blizzard, Vivendi And ESA For Improperly Barring Auction Of WOW Guides

Video Game Law Blog

March 24, 2006

In a suit filed yesterday in a California court , Brian Knopp is suing Blizzard Entertainment, parent company Vivendi Universal and the Entertainment Software Association for "improperly" barring him from auctioning copies of his "unauthorized" guide to WOW called the "Ultimate World of Warcraft Leveling and Gold Guide" on EBay.

Knopp sold several hundred copies of his guide for around 15 bucks each on EBay, starting last summer.  Blizzard, Vivendi and the ESA fired off several takedown notices to EBay, citing theDigital Millenium Copyright Act,claiming the guides infringed copyright in WOW.  EBay's policy is not to investigate takedown notices, but to ban a seller after a certain number of takedown notices are acculumated against that seller.  Knopp was eventually banned from selling his guide, which he insists was written for educational rather than commercial purposes.

Knopp's suit alleges that Blizzard and the gang had him improperly banned from EBay, as his guide doesn't infringe WOW copyright the book clearly features a disclaimer at the front that the guide was unauthorized by the game's producers, and the guide doesn't feature any copyrighted text or storylines from WOW.  He alleges that screenshots from WOW featured in the guide are clearly acceptable as "fair use" of the images.

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