Fortnite developers impose $5000 injunction on ‘cheater’

Building a legal case

Epic Games, the creators of free-to-play zombie craft-em-up Fortnite, have settled a legal case against an alleged cheater. It’s one of the two cases we’ve previously mentioned, and involves a player who was accused of tinkering with the game to “see through solid objects, teleport, impersonate another player” and “ruining the game playing experience of others”. The case has been settled with an injunction that will cost the player $5000 if breached.

The injunction was picked up by TorrentFreak and can be seen here. Basically, it orders that the player delete all the hacks in his possession and explicitly prohibits him from “creating, writing, developing, advertising, promoting, and/or distributing anything that infringes Epic’s works”. The full list of conditions is longer and, as you’d expect, thorough. But considering that the alternative was a lengthy legal battle, possibly ending in a $150,000 fine for the player, it was agreed last week to settle on the permanent injunction.

In strict legal terms, the player was accused of copyright infringement and breach of the end user license agreement. But he was also accused of working for a website which sold the cheats to others, as well as specifically targeting Twitch streamers to gain more publicity. He kept this up, they claim, despite being banned nine times.

I was not keen on the game when I wrote my Fortnite review and found it a dumping ground for all the worst free-to-play practices. Matt didn’t really enjoy its battle royale mode either. So I’m not sure what the moral lesson is here. Don’t cheat? But also, don’t play Fortnite? Sounds like a good compromise to me.

61 Comments

  1. Halk says:

    Thank god I live in a country where EULAs are void.

    • Anti-Skub says:

      Because you think it’s OK to ruin products other people have purchased?

      There is obviously a lot of potential issues that could be brought up with allowing this sort of legal action against customers, we don’t want the games industry to start doing the crap the movie and music industry pulls with copyright infringement and DMCA takedowns. However, in this case, this is how those laws can improve the industry for the consumer, rather than making it hostile to them.

      Imagine this was any other product. You go to a restaurant, you order steak and chips, the guy next to you orders the same, but when your meals arrive the other guy takes you steak. You get to eat just your chips, then when the bill arrives and you both pay the same. You don’t think anything should be done in that scenario? The restaurant shouldn’t intervene to make sure every customer gets what they paid for?

      • Halk says:

        >The restaurant shouldn’t intervene to make sure every
        >customer gets what they paid for?

        The restaurant certainly has the right to kick you out (as Epic has for cheaters). But no, I don’t think they should be allowed to demand 150000 US$ from you.

        • HeavyStorm says:

          I’m curious, actually, to understand the legal grounds on cheating on a game. I’m pretty sure my grandmother wasn’t banned from the club when she cheated on cards, but I also know that she would impact orders of magnitude less than a online multiplayer game cheater.

          Still, no matter how important to us, gamers, games are, they are entertainment. People aren’t losing money when playing online, for instance. Fining a guy (who many times is just a kid) in the thousands seems strange.

          • Deadeye666 says:

            I assume their argument would be that if word gets around that a game is infested with cheaters/cheats that a lot of potential buyers would instead buy a different game with a better reputation. So you could make the argument that people who create cheats for multiplayer games are directly impacting the sales a company makes.

          • Zandolar says:

            The company themselves are losing money though. How many people avoid online games if they are known to be rife with hacking? I know I do and it’s a sentiment you regularly hear.

        • Baraqyal says:

          Except, if we continue with that analogy, the restaurant did kick them out.

          9 times.

        • Anti-Skub says:

          The problem is, in reality, you are recognisable. You can’t just walk straight back into the same restaurant and start eating another customers steak in the way that a cheat can with video games.

          Developers CAN’T kick you out, so what are they supposed to do? Imagine everyone had the same face and the owners of the restaurant couldn’t tell if the steak thief was in their restaurant until they’d ruined another customers meal. Now imagine this one person did this all day everyday. Entered the restaurant, stole someones steak, got kicked out, walked straight back in. You don’t think that the restaurant should have some legal means of defending itself from this? You don’t think the customer should be protected from having the product they’ve paid for being tampered with by a third party? By say, saying that if he continues to do it he’ll be sued? Which is very different from demanding $150,000 for doing it in the first place.

          I’m not saying corporations bullying people with legal fees they can’t fight is the answer, but what better course of action do developers have? It’s pretty clear that this problem will never be solved by detecting these people with software…something else needs to happen.

          The ideal solution in my opinion would be for it to be made illegal to alter a game in a way that affected another player. The problem with the way this is handled now is that it’s all about “This person is hurting our companies profits” and if you set that precedent then it could be used for much more insidious things, like say suing people who are modding single player games, or shutting down Youtubers, that sort of crap. The law should be changed to protect the customer from cheaters, not the corporation.

          • automatic says:

            The problem with this analogy is that there’s nothing like ordering a steak on multiplayer games. Your whole experience depends on how other people play, no matter how restrictive the rules are. Bad players are and will always be bad for games but being a bad player is far from being a crime. Comparing it with theft is bizarre, seems like something said by a corporate pig caricature. He was not DDoSing a server or anything like that. He only made the game bad for players on the matches he played. Ppl who used his hacking tools should be held responsible for the matches they compromised, not him.

          • Anti-Skub says:

            OK fine. Change the analogy to the guy coming into the restaurant and pissing on everyone’s steak. Better? The only reason I used the analogy was to get the point across that there should be legal ramifications if one person willingly, and knowingly damages the property of another. It would not be accepted in any other walk of life, it shouldn’t be here. Nit picking the accuracy of the analogy really change that.

            Speaking of which, no I don’t want to get into a conversation about whether video games count as property, that’s really not the point at all. I buy a product, someone else wrecks it, I should be protected from that in a way that doesn’t allow the company that made the product to abuse my rights. It’s quite simple.

          • automatic says:

            There’s no steak, the restaurant itself is a horrible analogy because in a restaurant you do not interact with other customers. The product of a multiplayer game is the interaction itself. There was no damage to the game, it is still intact. Not even access to it was compromised. The matches he played were bad for other players because he was playing against the game rules, but playing A GAME against the rules IS NOT A CRIME. However does not agree with this should definitely check their life priorities imo.

          • Slazia says:

            Better analogy: One guy keeps coming to Disneyland and stopping everyone using the rides.

          • automatic says:

            He didn’t stopped people from playing. That would be denial of service and it is a crime. A good analogy is a player using and selling stimulant drugs on a competitive sport. That makes him a horrible player, he spoils the matches, but, unless the drugs itself are illegal, he is not committing a crime. Worst case scenario he gets kicked out of the league.

          • JPRacer77Qc says:

            “There was no damage to the game, it is still intact”
            But there’s damage to the game’s reputation. Nobody want to play in a game full of cheaters. It’s damaging the IP and Epic have the right to end that.

          • Zandolar says:

            Exactly. He’s damaging that companies product.
            If we must continue with analogies, it’s the same thing as someone going into the restaurant, being a nuisance and after being removed, returning, after being banned, returning. Multiple times.

            He refuses to either abide by the ban or change his behaviour. The company now has to take further measures, because at this point they are losing money. People will actively avoid that restaurant if they know this person will ruin their dining experience. People will actively avoid that game if they know their experience will be ruined by people like him.

            Pretty sure, given the sports league analogy, if the person, after being kicked out of the league multiple times, refused to stop, then legal action would not be off the table. Probably in the form of something like a restraining order. To me this is very much like an online restraining order, because lesser means of dealing with the problem were proven to not be enough.

          • automatic says:

            He can’t be held responsible for all the cheating on the game. A single person can’t ruin the game reputation unless he is playing all the matches.
            Besides, what kind of society fines ppl a hundred and half thousands of dollars for something as futile as cheating on a virtual game. The only case I see there is copyright infringement IF he was selling the cheating tools using the game IP. Not even building cheating tools is reason enough for legal punishment.

          • vahnn says:

            The restaurant analogy is perfect. Consider purchasing the steak the equivalent of buying the game. Purchasing the steak allows you to sit in the restaurant and eat. The restaurant is the “match,” and eating is the game. Say the hacker comes into the restaurant and starts spitting on everyone’s food. Sure, everyone can still eat the food, but it’s ruined. There’s not supposed to be spit in my damn steak.

            They can kick the guy out, but there are tons of different restaurants. He can go into any of them and stay spitting in people’s food again. No one’s preventing those people from eating spit food. But they’re trying to eat a good meal in peace and that experience is now ruined.

            Sure, there are bad players in games, but if they’re playing the game without adding stuff that doesn’t belong, like hacks, it’s fine. In our restaurant analogy, bad players would be people who talk too loudly, or scrape their silverware on their plate.

        • Zandolar says:

          This guy had been kicked out 9 times already though. If an individual has been removed from the restaurant and banned multiple times, yet refuses to stop bothering your customers , aren’t we reaching the stage where further actions such as fines become the next course of action?

        • Universal Quitter says:

          Why shouldnt they be able to demand 150k? I mean, you do perceive the obvious difference between demanding an amount of money and being awarded an amount of money, right?

          And I think they should be able to sue for whatever damages for which they can legitimately make a case. Is there 150k worth of damage in this case? I don’t know, and I’m equally certain that you don’t know either.

          A game isn’t just worth the retail price for a license to play it. It’s a multimillion dollar investment, representing thousand upon thousands of hours of work.

      • Snipersnipe49 says:

        @Anti-Skub-Well for 1 I agree with you, don’t take any offense but that is soo wrong. For starters the restaurant wouldn’t care if someone else ate your steak that you had full control of. They gave you your food as part of your agreement on your order, then you let someone else eat your steak doing nothing about it, it wasn’t the restaurant’s fault that you let it happen. If you really cared about it you would right when it happened accuse the man, tell the restaurant man about it then ask for another steak and put another charge on the man whom is at fault. There simple fix. Secondly that story had nothing to do with the problem at hand. Just throwing that out there.

  2. Premium User Badge

    MajorLag says:

    Ok, so I’m pretty sure he did violate the EULA, but since those, to my knowledge, have never once been tested in court and are widely regarded as probably being unenforceable, that just leaves the infringement case. Typically, cheats don’t need to redistribute copyrighted material to work, so that claim seems dubious at best.

    So if I understand this correctly, which is unlikely because I’m missing a lot of information, Epic Games made a spurious legal claim against someone who was bad for business because they knew that person was probably too poor to adequately defend themselves. This is actually good for the defendant because costing a corporation money is otherwise one of the worst crimes imaginable in our legal system.

    As much as that annoys me, watching the other commenters here once again defend this kind of crap solely because they don’t like cheating and cheaters will be downright sickening. This is the same kind of stunt Take-Two pulled on that popular single-player GTA V mod, lest you all forget.

    • Anti-Skub says:

      I’m more willing to put up with this bullshit than cheaters bullshit. I’m well aware that this is a slippery slope that we should be concerned about, but as it stands, this does not ruin products I have purchased…cheaters do.

      For every single instance you can tell me about where this kind of thing has impacted legitimate players doing no harm, other than the GTA thing, and I’ll tell you of 10 times where cheaters have ruined something I love…including GTA.

      To me, it’s the lesser of two evils.

      • Mezelf says:

        “but as it stands, this does not ruin products I have purchased…cheaters do.”

        How about ruining someone’s life over CHEATING IN A VIDEO GAME? Do you know what happens if you can’t pay a court mandated fine or a lost lawsuit? How does this reality fit into your morality?

        • Urthman says:

          If you keep coming back to ruin other people’s fun after you’ve been kicked out nine times, there ought to be some legal recourse to kick you out and keep you out.

          • Devan says:

            Maybe, but fines and copyright law are not it. If publishers want a law that can help keep out cheaters then they can propose one. This is a misuse of IP law, which overreaches enough as it is.

    • Halk says:

      >Epic Games made a spurious legal claim against someone
      >who was bad for business because they knew that person
      >was probably too poor to adequately defend themselves.

      That’s exactly what it looks like, yes. And that kind of practice should merit prosecution in itself.

    • Deadeye666 says:

      I may be wrong here but I think it would only constitute a spurious legal claim if there was a precedence set that the EULA is not legally binding. But since nobody has pushed such a case all the way through court yet everybody is operating under the assumption that the EULA is in fact binding. So as of now they were well within their rights.

    • mitrovarr says:

      It’s pretty common for cheats to redistribute copyrighted material. All they have to do is include any modified game materials. This was very common in the past and only has gone down lately because game companies figured out they could use it to sue the creators of cheats.

  3. BaronKreight says:

    In no way this will stop people from using or creating cheats. This is a pure PR stunt.

  4. Blackrook says:

    From what I read elsewhere this guy was advertising software to cheat on youtube, Fortnight told him to desist, he didn’t so they threatened to take him to court.

    Why is this bad? It might seem a heavy handed PR stunt but if it deters a few idiots from spoiling my game time, its worth it.

    I’ve quite enjoyed playing Fortnight BR – it might be a rip off from PUBG but its fast, enjoyable and free (you don’t need to spend money on cosmetics to enjoy it). I’ve only had a couple of moments where I’ve suspected cheating, and even then it was just as likely to have been lag.

    • Ghostwise says:

      They’re not idiots. They sell a product that is in heavy demand.

      • Blackrook says:

        So do drug dealers. Plus I was really referring to the idiots who feel the need to cheat, not the obviously fabulous hackers who enable them.

        If I was selling magic football boots that enabled major league players to cheat – I assume that the same people defending this guy would say “Good on you – we need more cheating in the game!”

        • Premium User Badge

          MajorLag says:

          Who’s defending this guy? Most of us are decrying the abuse of the legal system by a giant company. I don’t particularly like living in a world where it’s ok that anyone with billions of dollars can bully anyone they like with legal threats just because they know they can’t afford to fight back.

          • Slazia says:

            That’s more the broken legal system than the company.

          • Massenstein says:

            I get your point of view and I’m also worried where it might end when we allow companies even more power when they already have too much. But looking at just this case I don’t think they were being unreasonable. They warned the cheater off and they refused to take the hint so I don’t know what Epic should have done differently. If anyone is to blame for the steepening slippery slope – if it is that, I really hope not – it’s the cheater.

          • automatic says:

            IMO going to court is a lazy way to work things on their side using cash as fuel. If they give free access to their game it’s their responsibility to regulate who can play it or not, trough their own means. Using the legal system this way is an abuse of taxpayers money.

          • Zandolar says:

            Why? They used their systems in place, they banned people.
            This guy refused to abide by the company stating that he was no longer welcome to use their servers.
            Remove someone from a bar or a restaurant and generally you are allowed back in the next time without much bother. Refuse to change your behaviour and you get banned, don’t respect that ban and persist with your behaviour? Legal punishment is likely on your way. I consider this very similar.

          • automatic says:

            The game company banned the guy 9 times but couldn’t manage to work around his cheats? That’s fucking lazy. It’s like letting into a bar someone that gets wasted and destroys everything everytime, taking action only after he does that enough times to give the bar owner a certain sum of cash on reparation. Plus, as far as I understood, he wasn’t the only one cheating. They punished him because he promoted the cheat to streamers. Are those streamers getting sued for damaging the game reputation aswell?

          • Universal Quitter says:

            But they weren’t bullying random people who were minding their own business, nor are the fortnight devs billionaires.

            Have you ever heard the expression “pick your battles?”

          • automatic says:

            They may not be millionaires but they also may not be game developers at all if they prefer to try a legal course instead of working around cheats. Lazily leaning on the judicial system instead of improving their product is something corporations that don’t care about the source of their profit does. We’re talking about virtual stuff on video games, not physical properties on actual bars. If everytime a game dev who doesn’t have things his way went to court we would still be playing multiplayer on local lans.

          • Sin Vega says:

            They may not be millionaires but they also may not be game developers at all if they prefer to try a legal course instead of working around cheats.

            So instead of solving a problem, they should commit themselves to throwing time and money at it forever, because a TRUE DEV is a hybrid of Sisyphus and Boxer from Animal Farm. Sensible.

          • automatic says:

            Welcome to system development.
            link to en.wikipedia.org

            THAT is how you solve a problem when you work with software. Going to court everytime a kid cheats on your game or someone else does something you didn’t programmed your system to do is just throwing your weight on taxpayers back.
            That’s what corporate does, not developers, because they don’t care as much about the product as they do about the profit.

        • Halk says:

          > assume that the same people defending this guy would
          >say “Good on you – we need more cheating in the game!”

          I would totally say that. Man, it would make sports so much less boring to watch if people had the right to use… creative approaches to winning. I would be thrilled to watch what funny ideas they come up with next.

          A player suddenly putting on a jetpack in a soccer game and scoring a goal? Awesome!

  5. Sin Vega says:

    They should just kill him instead.

  6. DavidKer says:

    The individual accused by EPIC has videos showing he owns 60k in bitcoin. He has videos showing where he “hacked people” or blackmailed them for bitcoin. This individual uses the same name and email and posts links to his own videos in a cheat forums where screenshot shows him bragging about getting paid 500$ a week for helping to develop cheats. He has a screenshot tutorial about how to setup the environment to begin development. Might he have faced more charges if they went to court? What other charges would they have found? I have no sympathy at all for this person he sounds like someone who is setting himself up to learn identity theft and do other nefarious things against people across the world for the next few years, what happens when he turns 18?

  7. grizzo says:

    nice work epic, crush the cheaters. crush them all. i support the shit out of this

  8. Hyena Grin says:

    I keep hearing the argument that if we allow developers/producers to take legal action against cheaters for ruining the game for everyone else, that it will open the door for corporations to abuse that precedent and ruin games for everyone.

    This is an argument that cheaters and those who make hacks, have made.

    Taking zero responsibility for the fact that if they didn’t cheat, if they didn’t ruin the game for everyone else, then the companies wouldn’t need to act, and there would be no risk of a slippery slope in the first place.

    How about; if you don’t want to ruin games for yourself, stop ruining games for everyone else so that they support legal action against you.

    You don’t get it both ways. Either you want games protected, or you want to exploit them for your own enjoyment over the enjoyment of others. You don’t get to take a moral highground when developers step in to stop your abuses.

    And because there’s no way we’re going to successfully convince all cheaters and hack creators to stop being twits, this is the only recourse left to protect consumers and developers from these idiots. And frankly I am out of sympathy for them.

    • automatic says:

      This is about the money, not the games. Not a long time ago most multiplayer games had player managed servers, and afaik cheaters never destroyed a game’s reputation. Server managers banned the cheaters themselves and anti-cheating tools were built by third parties and installed by them to keep their own server reputation and if that didn’t happened it wasn’t reason for a legal action. Ppl used to do that only because they liked those games. Your generation was spoiled by paid DLC and loot boxes and now you’re defending legal actions on game players for cheating. That’s so fucking retarded I want to kill myself for seeing this happening. Sell your house, buy a VR set and all the DLC and loot boxes you can get and go live in a public bathroom, it’s for the games, so much joy.

    • Universal Quitter says:

      Exactly. If anything, wasting these argument in defense of cheaters makes it HARDER to stand up to companies with heavy handed EULAs.

      It’s the same way that Napster was no friend to copyright reform, and in fact made room for much of the abusive IP protection we see today.

      • Premium User Badge

        MajorLag says:

        There’s a reason the ACLU defends the rights of Nazis to hold rallies. If you’re only willing to defend your principles when it is convenient then your principles are worthless.

        • automatic says:

          That comparison is way off reality. Don’t put people defending a guy against corporate abuse on the same page as people who defend freedom for hate speech. Two whole different principles at work there.

  9. racccoon says:

    Epic are bully’s to game players
    Just ban them and let it be for gods sake
    ITS A GAME!! NOT A LAW SUIT! You daft idiots!
    And for christ sake! its your stupid POOR CODE that messed up anyway!!
    Horrible Epic

    • Sin Vega says:

      They did ban him. Repeatedly. He kept violating bans. It may be “JUST A GAMAEi!!!11!!!!!” to you, but it’s also how they make their living, and some piece of shit intentionally ruining it for others threatens both their income and the existence of that game as a viable one.

      If it’s JUST A GAME! NOT LAWS!, or whatever translation of that actually makes any kind of damn sequiteur, then he should have no problem just walking away from it.

      • automatic says:

        Make a game with junk code and try to take to court all the kids who breaks the EULA by subverting it. What a way to make a living.

  10. Universal Quitter says:

    Those of you who can’t see the obvious difference between cheating at a video game, and creating cheats for a multiplayer game that will ruin the experience for other players, are complete idiots.

    Companies should have SOME capacity to punish people who repeatedly and intentionally damage their brand.

    And whining about the 150k is hysterical because they weren’t actually awarded 150k, nor is there any indication that they would have been. They settled for an agreement to cease and desist, with a 5k penalty for violating that agreement.

    That’s perfectly reasonable.

  11. BuzBeee says:

    Please take the time and read the article before you speak because some of you sound uneducated and emotional instead of rational and willing to understand law on a corporate level. The example of the restaurant charging the customer $1500 for stealing a steak is wrong. The idea that this cheater is being charged a fine right now for cheating wrong. For a better understanding of this court ruling read the definition of key word in article below:

    in·junc·tion
    inˈjəNG(k)SH(ə)n/Submit
    noun
    noun: injunction; plural noun: injunctions
    an authoritative warning or order.
    synonyms: order, ruling, directive, command, instruction; More
    LAW
    a judicial order that restrains a person from beginning or continuing an action threatening or invading the legal right of another, or that compels a person to carry out a certain act, e.g., to make restitution to an injured party.

    “continuing an action threatening or invading the legal right of another”, is the important definition here for this case. This means that the person cheating the digital video game code and degrading the quality of the game as it is meant to be played by the developers who own the rights to this digital property is being put on probation. Currently their are no repercussions for his actions other than getting a stern legal warning to, “cease and desist”, another good legal term to look up and compare here. A cease and desist letter is a document sent to an individual or business to stop purportedly illegal activity (“cease”) and to not restart later (“desist”).

    This means IF that cheater does this AGAIN he will be fined. Considerably fair as the current punishment is nothing other than legal fees. He got a stern warning and was put on probation. The example of the customer ordering the steak and being fined $1500 is COMPLETELY false comparison.

    The correct comparison, once you understand the word injunction as it plays out here is: If you come in this restaurant and steal another steak now that we know you are a criminal then you will be punished severely but this time there is no direct punishment. This time we will just have a stern talking with you.

    • automatic says:

      Still an abuse of the judicial system in my book. It’s totally debatable to say it degrades game quality. Even though most people don’t expect cheaters on any game, on a conceptual level the guy is just using the game system creatively. Overwatch has a character that can see though walls, where do you think they got that idea from? Now, like I said on another post, I don’t know if the guy infringed IP by selling the cheat codes. That could be a reason for suing him. A sue for cheating, regardless the fact that it’s an “injunction”? No. Just no. If a game company wants to enforce the competitive aspect of a game they must work against cheats by improving their code, not by legal threats. If there’s anything that went against the game reputation on this case was this companies attitude.

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