Activision Hits World of Starcraft Modder With Cease & Desist

Playing out the inevitable outcome of everything cool that is made by fans, Activision-Blizzard has issued a cease and desist against Ryan Winzen for the World of Starcraft mod we told you about.

Details are a bit sketch right now. The C&D information is coming to Winzen via YouTube, which has pulled his videos due to a copyright infringement claim from Activision. Here’s what Winzen received this morning after the World of Starcraft videos circled the Intertubes yesterday:

We have received copyright complaint(s) regarding material you posted, as follows:

from Activision Games Inc about World of Starcraft Pre-Alpha Trailer – CreationArtist25
Video ID: RU1dSXU_Bk0
from Activision Games Inc about World of Starcraft Character Selection Screen – CreationArtist25
Video ID: 37dp_5E5NvQ
from Activision Games Inc about Starcraft 2 ATB Battle System MOD – ‘POWER OVERWHELMING’ – CreationArtist25
Video ID: BTl7YWYFnP8
Please note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos you have uploaded. Please delete any videos for which you do not own the necessary rights, and refrain from uploading infringing videos.

From what can be gathered thus far, the issue isn’t necessarily the mod itself — and therefore, Winzen hasn’t been barred from creating or showing it off — but about the name, “World of Starcraft.” World of Warcraft and Starcraft are Blizzard trademarks, and when it comes to intellectual property law, trademarks have to be fairly rigorously protected by the parties who own them. If a company fails to try to protect its own name, those words can become too “common” to be owned. It’s a whole mess when it comes to law, and it’s also the reason the Rollerblade company sent letters to my alma mater, asking them to change their “No Rollerblading!” signs to say “No in-line skating.”

Anyway, we’re not sure exactly what Activision is going for here. They could just be protecting the trademark of their two huge properties in case they ever want to mash them up themselves, or it could be even less interesting — it might just be a matter of not letting other people use their owned names, which are brands that they use to make money. This is not, repeat not necessarily an indication that there’s some kind of World of Starcraft game in the works at Blizzard.

What we don’t know just yet is that the mod itself is being targeted. It seems to be just the name. We’re reaching out to Activision-Blizzard to get its side of the story.

For Ryan’s part, he mentioned on his World of Starcraft forum today that he doesn’t think he’s violating Blizzard’s video copyright rules, and if the huge gaming company wants the fan-made game celebrating its properties to change its name so as to not accidentally usurp any of its potential future money, he’s willing to do so.

Thanks to Rock, Paper, Shotgun.

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