Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, November 09, 2011
If you can't afford a lawyer

Massively Multiplayer Fallout reveals one of the funniest cases of internet piracy: Star Vault, makers of Mortal Online apparently couldn't afford a lawyer to write their terms of service. So they simply copied and pasted the term's of service from EVE Online, and just replaced all instances of "CCP" with "Star Vault". Unfortunately they failed to also replace "EVE Online" by "Mortal Online". So now the Mortal Online ToS says that if you break the rules, you will lose access to "the EVE Online client, servers, and website".

Are legal documents like terms of service copyrighted?

Not really. Law isn't worth the protection. ;)
This is a very common practice. Almost all my clients do exactly the same. They send me (c) material that is just a copy-paste from somewhere (a fast Google check is fun to confirm that).
I wonder if by agreeing to that ToS you are immunized from being banned until they make you agree to an updated version?

I mean, I guess ToS as boilerplate contracts are still a pretty grey area in general...but if you are paying for it and you agree to the idea that if you cheat you aren't banned from their game but from a completely unrelated game, could it hold?

It would be the height of ridiculousness to see someone bring a lawsuit over being banned from a game for cheating in the first place, but to claim what is clearly a stupid mistake in the ToS as the reason why you disagree?
If I remember right, not too long ago there were posts on the EVE forums about these folks stealing the artwork as well. The spaceship pics were Caldari Raven's taken right off EVE's on website.
ToS are copyright, but aside fron copyright lawyers very few people would worry about them being cloned. If nothing else it makes them more standard, which probably makes them stronger legally.
Automattic (the company behind WordPress) released their ToS and EULA under Creative Commons, which is a nice way to get this sort of document without so many licensing entanglements.
They are copyright. Of course, with the current clash of intellectual property law and the digital economy, that doesn't mean much in itself :-)
Yes, in America. Can't speak to other countries.

The thing is, under American copyright, legal documents are kinda like recipes. You can't copyright data or descriptions of things or processes, but you can copyright the particular EXPRESSION of it. The two most common examples are the phone book and recipes.

The phone book is mainly data. You can copy all of the numbers from it and be cool. But if you do it in the same font with the same arrangement per page, youre boned.

With a recipe, you won't get in trouble for listing the ingredients or telling how to make the same recipe -- but if you use the same words in the narrative part (the expression) you can get popped.

In other words, if they had just rearranged things, they could have had all the same parts (the data part) and been ok, but since they copied the arrangement and expression, it is almost certainly a violation.
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