The last time we checked, Epic Games, Inc., the North Carolina-based video game development company, brought separate lawsuits against Brandon Broom, Charles Vraspir, and Caleb Rogers, is a 14-year old minor from Delaware. The complaint accuses all three individuals of cheating in Epic’s game Fortnite Battle Royale by hacking the game by various means, as well as posting videos showing other people how to hack the game to gain an unfair advantage, which Epic stated is in clear violation of the terms and agreements that all players must agree to before they can access the game.
Epic Games obviously disapproves of the numerous amount of cheaters that have on the loose within the Fortnite game, and seems to have taken several cheaters to court in order to make an example of them and deter other people from hacking the game. It appears that the first Fortnite copyright case has already concluded, but whether the resolution of the case is a sufficient deterrent for other potential cheaters remains yet to be seen.
The resolved Fortnite copyright infringement case is the case with Vraspir, who is a Minnesota resident who goes by the name of “Joreallean” online. Among the other accusations Vraspir was faced with, he also allegedly injected a self-made computer code into the game in order to cheat, and would create numerous accounts despite being banned multiple times in order to continue playing the game. It could be that writing his own cheat code and creating his own way to cheat in Fortnite is what put Vraspir catch the attention of Epic Games’ copyright lawyers.
This could very much have been a lengthy legal battle between Epic and Vraspir, but it seems that though both sides seemingly came to an agreement relatively quickly, and chose instead to resolve the case through a settlement rather than going to trial. Part of the settlement terms that Epic Games requested was that the court order a permanent injunction forbidding Vraspir from hacking Fortnite any further, requiring him to destroy all of his codes related to hacking any of Epic’s games, and never cheating again. The settlement offer also prohibits Vraspir from “creating, writing, developing, advertising, promoting, and/or distributing anything that infringes Epic’s works now or hereafter protected by any of Epic’s copyrights[,]” and he will have to pay a fine of $5,000 if he breaches any part of the settlement agreement. You can read the full injunction against Vraspir here.
On the other hand, Epic released a response to the scathing retort made towards them by the mother of Caleb Rogers, the 14-year old minor who is also being sued by Epic games for hacking Fortnite as well as uploading videos to youtube showing other players how to hack the game. Rogers’ mother released a letter calling out Epic for using a 14-year old as a “scapegoat,” and also accused them of violating Delaware laws for releasing the name of a minor. In Epic’s statement, which can be read here, they state that they did not violate any laws because they were unaware that the defendant was a minor when they filed their complaint against him, and note a potential argument that Rogers’ mother waived such protection for her minor son by writing a letter to the court that contained the defendant’s full name and address. It may be because the defendant in this case is a minor, but regardless of which, it does not seem like this case will be resolved as quickly as Vraspir’s case was.
Some sources consider Epic’s legal battle against Vraspir to be a “rather long-winded slap on the wrist, which could spur cheaters to more liberally act without fear of serious repercussions.” Others say that Vraspir got off easy, and harsher critics say that Epic was being too soft on the hackers and that gamers need to be taught a harsh lesson about respecting a developer’s intellectual property. Is this a major issue for developers to focus on? Is there a place in the gaming industry for hackers? Leave a comment down below sharing your thoughts about hackers in the video game industry.