Internet Piracy Protection Acts

SOPA and PIPA are just one part of a decades old trend of copy protection legislation

Of all the SOPA and PIPA explanations I've heard, probably one of the most concise and well delivered was given by Clay Shirky as posted on TED (It's worth a watch and just under 14 minutes). In addition to being a lot more informative then some of the knee jerk commentary on the issue, he gets around to the bigger issue at hand. That these two bills are merely just one more step in a process that has been going on for decades, and that will continue to go on for years still as companies keep trying to pass this sort of legislation. Even with those two bills currently shelved, we now have ACTA being designed behind closed doors over in Europe. There are also fears that in the future, parts of these policies will be pushed through attached to other bills or enacted through foreign policy, where public awareness and legislative accountability will be side stepped completely.


DotA: Defense of the Trademark

Game industry titan Blizzard is now taking fellow game titan Valve to court over trademark rights for the name "Dota." As to why this matters, this calls for a bit of a history lesson.

Our story so far...

The first reason this issue raises an eyebrow is because of the two companies it involves. In a game industry where many developers have reputations of abusing both their employees and their customers for profit, Blizzard and Valve have sat on the opposite end of that spectrum, standing as paragons of community building and compromised work ethic. Neither of these companies has thus far ever given people cause to expect them to take part in cutthroat legalese, let alone square off against each other.

As to the content in question, DotA is an acronym for a game mod called "Defense of the Ancients". When Blizzard developed and released their game Warcraft 3, they also provided a series of tools so that people could modify the game. These tools would allow players to make new maps, modify the game, or even create completely new game modes that could be played as custom matches using Blizzard's online matchmaking service.

Using these tools, a community of players was able to modify the game and create a new set of rules that resulted in a completely different style of game than the original. That game was then provided by the community free of charge for anyone to download as a Warcraft 3 custom map. Defense of the Ancients went on to become extremely popular within this niche, and has since spawned several stand-alone games based on its mechanics.

Now to take another step further back to see how this all started...