On Monday, April 12, 2010, Blizzard filed a lawsuit in federal court in California against Justin Marshall and five unnamed defendants for copyright infringement, circumvention of copyright protection systems in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”), breach of contract, and tortious interference with contract.

In its complaint, Blizzard alleges that Marshall is the leader of a sophisticated group of hackers (known as “StarCrack”) who are working together to develop “rogue” servers that can emulate Blizzard’s own Battle.net, thereby enabling people with pirated copies of the StarCraft 2 game client (which is still in a closed beta test) to enter the game’s online multiplayer environment.

According to the complaint, the real Battle.net servers validate the authenticity of a user’s StarCraft 2 game client and the user’s Battle.net account at login. If authentication fails, the Battle.net server prevents the StarCraft 2 game client from “unlocking” the copyrighted game content associated with the game’s online multiplayer environment. When a pirated StarCraft 2 game client connects to the StarCrack server, however, the StarCrack server allegedly bypasses the authentication process and unlocks the online multiplayer mode in the pirated StarCraft 2 game client. According to Blizzard, the defendants’ actions constitute copyright infringement, circumvention in violation of the DMCA, breach of contract (i.e., breach of the license agreements for StarCraft 2 and Battle.net), and tortious interference with contract (i.e., causing others to breach these license agreements).

We will continue to follow this case, which is Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. v. Marshall (Case No. 10-cv-00450-DOC-RNB), filed April 12, 2010, in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.