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Can my friend be sued over an illegitimate online sale?

Denver, CO |

Hi. I have a friend who plays the MMORPG, World of Warcraft. At one point in his gaming career, he sold his World of Warcraft account to an online account broker (vbarracks.com) for real world money, which is a violation of World of Warcraft's publisher's, Blizzard's, terms of use and EULA. After a couple years of not playing WoW, my friend decided he wanted to pick it up again and reclaimed control of his original account (the one he sold) through Blizzard's various identification methods. He is now being threatened legally by the company he sold his account to, who say they have evidence that he has reclaimed control of his account (which he has). They say they have forwarded his name and address to their insurance and plan to pursue him in court. Do they have a case against him?

Attorney Answers 1

Posted

Interesting question. But I would say yes, your friend could be sued.

A Terms of Use (TOU, which is where this sale limitation is found) is a contract like the contract for sale your friend entered with vbarrack. Keep in mind, it was your friend that would be in violation of Blizzard's TOU by selling the account, not vbarracks by buying the account. [in the comments below, I posed the clause of the TOU at issue]

In reality what the TOU is saying is that Blizzard is not bound to recognize the "account" as an item of property (like a car or sofa). Blizzard owns the account and content, not the end user.

The distinction is between "ownership" of the account, and the "right to use" the account. What your friend sold was the "right to use" the account. That is why outfits like vbarrak still exist and haven't been sued out of existence by Blizzard. Basically, the TOU means that neither your friend or vbarrak can actually force Blizzard to give them the account, and why vbarrak cannot sue Blizzard to get the account back that your friend sold.

In any event, one issue (Blizzard's EULA and TOU) has nothing to do with the other (Friend's sale of account access). Your friend sold "something" to vbarrak and vbarrak paid your friend money; your friend took that something back; vbarrak has a claim against your friend. Vbarrak can sue over it. Whether they actually will is a different issue, I doubt it they will.

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Matthew Scott Berkus

Matthew Scott Berkus

Posted

Blizzard does not recognize the transfer of World of Warcraft Accounts or BNET Accounts (each an “Account”). You may not purchase, sell, gift or trade any Account, or offer to purchase, sell, gift or trade any Account, and any such attempt shall be null and void. Blizzard owns, has licensed, or otherwise has rights to all of the content that appears in the Game. You agree that you have no right or title in or to any such content, including without limitation the virtual goods or currency appearing or originating in the Game, or any other attributes associated with any Account. Blizzard does not recognize any purported transfers of virtual property executed outside of the Game, or the purported sale, gift or trade in the “real world” of anything that appears or originates in the Game. Accordingly, you may not sell in-game items or currency for “real” money, or exchange those items or currency for value outside of the Game. http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/legal/wow_tou.html

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