It is an issue like the one before us today that makes me glory in geekdom.
Bnetd, though - heard of it? They've got a FAQ that explains it, but as this is one of the few parts of the equation that I understand, please, allow me: Bnetd allows mortal men to host private substitutes for Blizzard's Battle.net service. Something else that it happens to do is allow people to connect to these surrogate Battle.net's with pirated copies of the software. This sort of thing is a veritable recipe for bunchy open source panties, igniting kuro5hin and Slashdot with "Boycott Blizzard" ballyhoo, peppered with the infrequent, heretical "Perhaps The Issue Is More Complex Than Good Versus Evil." LawMeme, which appears to be a Slashdot for lawyers, proffered this analysis of the pertinent legal realities, which spawned a rather interesting critical view. Of course, this is all highly simplified - there is also a project called Warforge, which appears to be on even shakier legal ground - but you've got enough information in the links I've already provided to eradicate any hope of a productive Monday, if you're so inclined. I only have three things to add.
Obviously you can use Bnetd to facilitate quote bad things, let's say the piracy, but I hardly believe that is the focus of the project. Indeed, when discussing the issue with lawyers representing Blizzard, the Bnetd man made it clear that they would like nothing more than to roll in a function to do legitimate CD-Key checks, the way that Battle.net itself does. It's not something they can even implement without Blizzard's help. It goes without saying that the attorneys in question were not there to try and improve Bnetd, and as a result, they ain't trying to hear that. The blood of any breathing geek is enticed by the prospect of running their own Battle.net. What if they could? What if a sanctioned, but not supported product were delivered - one that diligently performed the anti-piracy measures assigned to it, ran their official ads, all while removing load from their main body of equipment? I'm trying to figure out who loses here.
Though Battle.net is a matchmaking service, it's silly to call that its only function. I've always thought of it as performing a sort of de facto authentication, a la Half-Life. This watchdog element is (I'm sure they believe) crucial to sustaining their business, and Blizzard has absolutely every right to try and protect their stuff via whatever methods they want to. Whatever else is going on here, I don't think that it's okay to make something that emasculates their security mechanism. I don't mean that in a legal sense, this violates statutes W, A, N, and G or what have you, I mean it in a personal one.
For the sake of argument, let us say that Bnetd has some strong defenses, legally speaking, for what it is doing (or not doing, depending on who you ask). This is not inconceivable. Unfortunately, it hardly matters - and this isn't just garden variety cynicism. This is a highly distressing state of affairs. Even if you are right, and you know it, clap your hands, actually proving that in a court can bankrupt your shit faster than you can say "I Remember When Food and Shelter Were Not Abstract Concepts." I'm just saying. And the Bnetd guy, or one of them anyway, he owns the ISP that hosts all this stuff - and he's aware of his rights. I have no doubt that if you were running some shit like this, after one letter your ISP would just delete your account and then send a tall man in a black coat to kill your dog. They can do that - didn't you read your service agreement? The law represents this terrible power and mystique, this raw force that can only be bridled by the law-yer, seen here as a shaman-equivalent character of near-myth. You send somebody something from a lawyer - or even something that looks as though maybe it did - and you've harnessed the black remnants of forbidden magicks.
My heart thrills with delight, knowing that Gabriel's position on all things Emu will cause him to rise up and call someone a hippy. I do hope you'll stay tuned!
I've completely squandered my space on hypothetical meanderings which were likely of no interest to anyone. I liked the bit about the man and the dogs, but that probably wasn't enough to rescue it. I wasn't able to talk about Greg Kasavin's smouldering video review, which I am confident will win an award of some kind - for example, Most Hot. I didn't talk about my grand plan to synthesize the classic, before-its-time Allegiance and the surprisingly engaging Renegade - which I'll still do, because it needs doing. Something else I didn't do was make a dummy sing while I drank a glass of water. I probably won't get to that anytime soon.
Wrapping up: Scunsion requests that you check out his "friend's" flash game, Zero Race. Please, please don't sue him! Andy Hull is putting his formidable programming abilities on the auction block. I'm told he will make an excellent pet! Also, I couldn't help making a post in German under the pseudonym "Snarl" at the Stealth Combat site, which is unfortunate, because although it looked very convincing to me, many of the words I employed were not, well, "words" as such. And it's too bad, because I've actually grown rather fond of "hompf."