Seattle judge rejects part of Bungie’s case against cheating developers

Destiny 2 developer Bungie has hit a snag in its legal campaign against cheating developers, with a Seattle judge dismissing its copyright infringement argument (by TorrentFreak) against the cheat maker AimJunkies.

For those unfamiliar, a number of competitive PC games have their own ecosystems of paid cheating software, selling external subscription-based programs to enable classic multiplayer bugbears such as aimbots, wall hacks, or invulnerability.

Bungie began pursuing aggressive legal action against Destiny 2 cheat sellers when its use began to seriously mess up the game’s PvP in 2020, with cheaters especially running rampant in the Trials of Osiris competitive playlist. The company used legal pressure, sometimes in conjunction with other developers, to terminate or stop services such as ring-1, perfect targetand GatorCheats.

AimJunkies, however, has managed to undermine part of Bungie’s process, at least for now. An important element of Bungie’s case against AimJunkies is an allegation of “copyright infringement” through the creation and sale of AimJunkies’ Destiny cheats. The cheater’s counter-argument is that their software is an original creation and therefore does not constitute an “unauthorized copying of any of the copyrighted works identified in the complaint”.

While the copyright infringement portion of his case was dismissed, the remainder of Bungie’s lawsuit, alleging trademark infringement and “false designation of origin” against AimJunkies and its parent company, Phoenix Digital Group, may move to the arbitration. Bungie is also allowed to bolster its copyright infringement case for reconsideration through May 27.

While paid cheating services aren’t exactly my favorite aspect of PC gaming — Destiny, in particular, has gone really bad in 2020 — I’m sympathetic to the logic behind this layoff. The show created by AimJunkies appears to be a totally unique creation and doesn’t “copy” Bungie’s work, so to speak. There may be more compelling legal logic to express how this harms Bungie’s product or violates the EULA.

Bungie itself was a victim of overzealous application of their own copyright recently, and while this may only prove a temporary stay of execution for AimJunkies, I find it a little comforting to see an example of a copyright infringement lawsuit against a group of people modifying a game not be an immediate slam dunk .

It should also be said: if they get rid of cheats entirely in online FPS games, what should we blame when we absolutely bolster in a competitive match? Probably our teammates if current trends hold up.

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