German Court Says MMOG Publisher Can Set Game Rules, Regardless of Consumer Rights Legislation


This is a guest posting from Dr. Andreas Lober (Andreas.lober@schulte-lawyers.com) and Tim Christopher Caesar (tim.caesar@schulte-lawyers.com)

Recently, the district court of Hamburg, Germany, ruled against the provider of a bot for the MMOG World of Warcraft.

The court held that rules of online games are not subject to the restrictions of the very strict German law on General Terms and Conditions (which is based on an EU Directive on Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts).

The court stated that the plaintiff, being the developer of the game, is free to set the game rules – they do not have to be fair, transparent or non-discriminatory, as is required under German and EU law for consumer contracts. Such restrictions are not appropriate for game rules, as they generally only have in-game consequences, the court held.

Therefore, the plaintiff may exclude or ban any intervening of third parties or the players themselves if such behavior violates the game rules.

On the other hand, it is clear that German and EU law impose very strict rules for EULAs. Disregarding such rules will make the stipulations void, and may expose the Game Publisher to third party claims, including such of Consumer Watchdogs.

Decision: May 23rd 2013 – reference 312 O 390/11; appeal pending.
 

 

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