Riot Files Lawsuit Against League Of Legends Cheat Dev

Riot Games has presented cheating software LeagueSharp with a lawsuit as of last week. The program lets League of Legends players earn experience at an impossibly high rate, spot enemies, and boosts accuracy to name but a few. It’s no good, very bad, cheaty stuff.

LeagueSharp provides a subscription service in which players can pay $15 to $50 a month to run the software’s scripts in their game. Riot claims that the software is guilty of copyright infringement, stating in the filing that LeagueSharp had to reverse engineer League of Legends in order to build their program. The company is none too pleased that LeagueSharp is profiting from their efforts while diminishing the quality of the player experience.

Riot’s filing also accuses the makers of LeagueSharp with attacking League of Legends’ servers, training players in how to cheat without getting caught, and, perhaps worst of all, doxxing one of Riot’s staff members. The lawsuit notes that LeagueSharp, “disseminated personal and non-public information about a Riot employee, threatened that employee, and posted offensive comments on the employee’s social media.”

Riot Games had attempted to settle the dispute out of court, but LeagueSharp failed to respond. Now, they’re joining both Epic and Blizzard in taking cheat makers to court.

Thanks, Kotaku!

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28 Comments

  1. TillEulenspiegel says:

    50. Riot has incorporated into LoL technological measures that effectively control access to LoL, including access to the dynamic audiovisual elements that comprise LoL.

    52. L# (and the portions thereof that circumvent the LoL Anti-Cheat Software) has no commercially significant purpose or use other than to circumvent a technological measure that effectively controls access to a copyrighted work and that protects the exclusive rights of a copyright owner

    I dunno about the legal merits, but the whole “trafficking in circumvention devices” charge is some serious bullshit. Cracking anti-cheat software = copyright infringement. That’s garbage.

    You could probably make a case for criminal charges under the extremely broad CFAA, though.

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      keithzg says:

      Actually under the DMCA I think that *is* a “reasonable” interpretation; it’s under the strength of the DMCA that the legal actions against folks sharing the DVD CSS keys were attacked. See link to en.wikipedia.org. for example, or link to 2600.com. It’s one of the reason I was so dismayed when relatively recently we harmonized with that with new legislation up here in Canada—I very much agree that it’s bullshit that this new category of copyright infringement has been added to our laws, but unfortunately it has, although those enforcing under such terms haven’t always won (see link to en.wikipedia.org for a case where they didn’t, and what the legal defence (or defense, I should say ;)) was.

  2. ninenullseven says:

    Another PR stunt to show how Riot Games are goodguys.jpg without actually doing anything to prevent cheating. Yay, marketing, coolbeans, who cares.

    Thanks RPS for keeping list of developers who don’t give a fuck about cheating and use it as PR stunt.

  3. MajorLag says:

    Ugh. This sounds a lot like a stretching of the DMCA-type laws to try and pin *something* on them. If it succeeds, there will be precedent for going after modders, people who patch the game 20 years later to make it work on modern OSs, and those lovable digital archaeologists who just want to take things apart to see cut content and the like.

    As much of a problem as cheating is, I, for one, can’t get behind this kind of legal offensive against it. Call me old fashioned, but I think technical and cultural problems should be solved with technical and cultural solutions.

    • Hyena Grin says:

      While I grant that the exact legal arguments here escape me, and there’s potential for the language to become overly broad and thus damaging to other legitimate forms of game ‘hacking,’ I think it’s pretty important that the law supports businesses which rely on a fair platform. Especially where the business itself as well as third parties (such as tournaments not hosted by Riot) rely on the software’s integrity being maintained.

      It can be an extraordinarily difficult task to prevent cheating in games. I can’t think of a game that has managed to avoid it entirely. The best that Blizzard has been able to do is catch a wider array of cheaters – probably with some seriously next-level technology whose development would be wildly impractical for a less fabulously wealthy developer – and ban them. They still can’t prevent people from cheating.

      That simply might not be a reasonable expectation.

      At the end of the day, if the world is going to take eSports at all seriously, then there needs to be some form of legal backing to protect the integrity of the software from people who would exploit it.

      • Beefenstein says:

        “At the end of the day, if the world is going to take eSports at all seriously…”

        ‘real’ sport is riven with financial and criminal corruption, drug abuse and match-fixing at the highest levels. The Olympics is a joke which leaves countries poorer and sports infrastructure worse for normal people. I think the shittier esports is the more like the real thing it is.

        • Hyena Grin says:

          And yet they all have legal backing when it is necessary. FIFA was torn apart because of its corruption.

          I think it’s a pretty silly degree of cynicism to say ‘oh well things could be bad, so why even make it illegal?’ I just don’t buy into that, sorry.

          Wherever there is a real potential to do harm, the law stands as a deterrent and a place of restitution. Cheaters in games are like vandals who diminish the quality of an experience for paying customers, and thus make the experience less desirable overall, cutting into sales potential and damaging the company’s prospects. If their business platform includes organized eSporting events, then unchecked cheating further undermines the potential of the business.

          It ain’t rocket science, and the solution isn’t anarchy.

          • gwathdring says:

            A suit that tries to negotiate those issues I’d have more respect for, but bringing reverse engineering and intellectual property into it seems sketchy here. Especially since its such a fuzzy claim.

            In many sports and countries, doping is not formally criminalized and is instead handled through violations of contracts, contracts that include clauses about fines, bans from specific competitions, and charges related to controlled substances the control of which often aren’t directly due to the usefulness of the substance for cheating. Making cheating illegal because it makes people feel bad is a rather complicated legal mess. The law is not the appropriate forum for every moral issue.

      • MajorLag says:

        Blizzard has already shown a willingness to use the law against its own community, see the shutdown of that original-release WoW server for example. Frankly, I’d much rather have vibrant modding culture than esports.

        Unfortunately, it seems the world has decided to shift the other way, in favor of corporate control where culture only exists to profit the company.

        • Hyena Grin says:

          Sure, that’s regrettable. And modding is incredibly important to the PC gaming culture in particular.

          But personally, I’d also very much like to be able to play on multiplayer games without cheaters frequently ruining it for everyone else, and that means holding the creators of those scripts accountable for their actions. The fewer of them there are, the lower the incidence of cheating will become.

          And, I will point out, I don’t think these two things are mutually exclusive.

        • fabronaut says:

          I’m with you on that point… The sweet irony here is that almost every title that has enough traction to aim at transitioning into an eSport — Counter-Strike, Dota 2 (and by proxy League of Legends and its ilk), Overwatch, and so on — all these came about as result of popular mods that were iterated over time.

          Literally the only example of a premier eSport title I can think of that isn’t the direct offspring of a mod of some sort is Starcraft. Are there any other examples? I can’t think of any others nowadays.

          • TheLetterM says:

            Rocket League? Street Fighter? Guess it depends on your definition of a premier eSport

      • gwathdring says:

        I don’t think it is the job of the law to protect the “integrity” of the software used for competitions. I think that is the private affair of people running and maintaining those competitions. Putting that burden on government is entirely unreasonable, to me. I’d argue the same in sporting competitions.

        If the act or substance is not already illegal outside of a sporting context, I don’t think it is fair to expect the government to place restrictions on people’s behavior and expend monetary and legal resources on policing people’s behavior so that sporting organizations can more effectively profit from competitive events. Ensuring the fairness of a competition is the job of its organizers, not the damn State.

        • gwathdring says:

          You want to make it legally binding? Make competitors sign a friggin’ contract. And I don’t mean a EULA, those are sketchy as heck.

  4. brucethemoose says:

    Wouldn’t it be cheaper for Riot to just patch (or even rework) the game and make this cheat irrelevant?

  5. gwathdring says:

    Any lawsuit that tries to claim reverse engineering as intellectual property theft can go skydiving on Neptune as far as I’m concerned and any law or court precedent that makes that argument more consistently successful can do likewise.

    Trying to attack an exploitative company profits off making the game less enjoyable for many players sounds nice on the surface, but doing it–in part or whole–by attacking the part where said exploitative company reverse engineered the code so as to produce a functioning accessory? I don’t like that at all. It smells wrong. From my perspective it rather spits in the face of how derivative works are typically protected.

    • pistachio says:

      I agree. The developers of cheating software are not really the bad guys here. Much like those who develop doping.

      I think cheating should be a punishable offense by law when there is financial gain or serious harm to the career of others involved (science or professional sports). Banning people from sports events, games tournaments or academia doesn’t quite cut it imo. Cheat at the Olympics? Jail! You screwed some other contestant out of their podium place which was the whole point of not only participating, but years of training and investment.

      • kalirion says:

        These are also the drug dealers selling the dope to the athletes. You don’t think those are guilty?

        • pistachio says:

          Yeah the selling for profit bit (like the hack in the article) rubs me the wrong way too. But the actual creation of a cheat ranks as a lesser evil on my ethical scale than using one.

  6. geldonyetich says:

    I suppose, so long as mass extermination camps are considered poltically incorrect overkill for handling cheaters in online games, litigation against open profiteers of online cheating ventures will have to suffice for now.

  7. NephilimNexus says:

    Every competitive, player vs player computer game inevitably devolves into a contest to see who has the better hacks. FPS games are the absolute worst, but no game is truly immune.

    The only real solution is to move everything server side, because anything that is left client side WILL get hacked eventually.

  8. kalirion says:

    Didn’t read the story, but I guess some nice group called Riot is filing a lawsuit on behalf of a poor dev who was cheated by League of Legends? Good for them!

  9. Voqar says:

    Why is it that most commenters here seem to be in favor of cheating, cheaters, and makers of cheats?

    It’d be nice to see a company attempt to do something, that’s for sure.

    • jomurph86 says:

      Because many commenters here are in a stage of life where they are consumers, not creators?

      Pure speculation.

      Additionally, the world is increasingly legalistic. It’s stressful to live life with the nagging feeling that you’re doing something someone is going to sue you for or at least berate/shame you for (that’s my experience, at any rate). Lashing out against legalism is understandable.

      Also, cheating and enabling cheating sucks.

  10. xyberviri says:

    Doesn’t Fair Use allow you to reverse engineer software in order to make other software that will work as an addon to it?

    I seem to remember this being a major point about the whole oracle/google law suit.

  11. kirkkh1 says:

    I didn’t realize playing video games made you a lawyer.