Epic Games settle their first case against Fortnite cheaters

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Update, December 5: Epic Games have settled one of the copyright lawsuits against a prolific Fortnite cheater. They have also responded to the case of the 14-year-old cheater.

Fortnite have settled on a copyright lawsuit against Charles 'Joreallean' Vraspir. The company took Vraspir to court accusing him of a breaching the game's End User License Agreement by injecting unauthorized code into the game, allowing him to cheat. Vraspir is also suspected of having helped develop some Fortnite cheats.

Ten million people have played Fortnite Battle Royale.

The two parties did go to court, but quickly settled on an agreement, signed by Vraspir, that requires him to refrain from ever carrying out copyright infringement again, to destroy all cheats, and not to cheat ever again. If Vraspir is found in breach of the agreement, he will have to pay $5,000.

Epic also responded to a similar case against a 14-year-old cheater, claiming they were not in breach of laws concerning information about minors, as they were not aware of the defendant's age at the time. They have agreed to redact or initialise the defendant's age in any future correspondance with the court. It seems likely that an agreement similar to Mr Vraspir's could be made with the defendant. 

Update 14:55, November 27, 2017: Epic Games explain in a statement that they had to issue the legal notice to protect their copyright.

Epic Games have explained in a statement that they issued the legal notice against the 14-year-old player to counter the counterclaim the child made to Epic's DMCA takedown notice against his video.

“This particular lawsuit arose as a result of the defendant filing a DMCA counterclaim to a takedown notice on a YouTube video that exposed and promoted Fortnite Battle Royale cheats and exploits. Under these circumstances, the law requires that we file suit or drop the claim.

"Epic is not okay with ongoing cheating or copyright infringement from anyone at any age. As stated previously, we take cheating seriously, and we’ll pursue all available options to make sure our games are fun, fair, and competitive for players.”

Update 13:04, November 27, 2017: That's a problem for Epic, as minors can't be sued directly. It's possible that Epic identified the child through YouTube or other social media without ascertaining his age, as TorrentFreak speculate. In a letter to the court, the boy's mother makes a number of further attacks on Epic's suit.

She says the game's EULA (terms and conditions), upon which Epic rely heavily, require parental consent for minors to play the game, which she claims she did not give. She also points out that Epic are claiming profit loss when the game is free-to-play, and challenges them to prove this with a P&L statement showing how her son's cheating affects their bottom line.

Epic's suit alleges that, by modifying Fortnite, the cheaters violated copyright law. However, the boy's mother says her son did not help to make the cheat software and only downloaded it, arguing Epic thus "has no capability of proving any form of modification." Finally, she claims that, by releasing her son's name publicly, Epic violated Delaware state laws concerning the release of information about minors.

You can read the mother's letter in full via Torrentfreak (to whom, thanks) here.

Original story, October 13, 2017: Epic Games are suing two of Fortnite Battle Royale’s most prolific cheaters. Complaints filed with a North Carolina federal court accuse the two players of violating Epic’s copyrights and End User License Agreement.

Last week, the company wrote about the issues that cheaters were causing the game, saying they had already banned thousands of accounts, and that they were “exploring every measure to ensure these cheaters are removed and stay removed” from the game.

Epic clearly weren’t messing around, and the two lawsuits they’ve filed accuse the two alleged cheaters - whose names on the lawsuits are Mr Broom and Mr Vraspir - of infringing on the game’s copyright by changing the game’s code. That infringement also means that the players - one of whom has been banned from the game nine times - is in breach of the game’s terms of service.

Both defendants are linked to a cheat provider, working as moderators and support staff on a site that helps players access cheats. They both face charges of $150,000 in statutory damages if they lose the case. If you’re up to date with your legal jargon, here are copies of the full complaints filed against Vraspir and Broom.

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BreakLegosaurus avatarDarkedone02 avatarQDP2 avatarJTP1 avatarholmesc avataret operiet ipsos formido avatar+4
BreakLegosaurus Avatar
115
2 Weeks ago

Cheaters keep doing what they doing because there are no consequences and they don't realize/care how much they ruin the game for other people. Hopefully this sets a precedent and scares off a lot of wanna be cheaters.

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holmesc Avatar
77
2 Weeks ago

Dumb script kiddies getting spanked.

3
Astrodesiac Avatar
1
1 Week ago

Here is how they will lose money. Because of your son I will not ever play fornite and thus never even be exposed to any possible micro transaction. See it is the parents fault the mom is making excuses for her son to cheat instead of disciplining for cheating. If they will cheat in videos games and shown that its ok what would stop them from doing it on school tests or at jobs with safety protocols?

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Darkedone02 Avatar
106
1 Week ago

now that the case has been settled, if the cheater broke the terms again and get own 5 thousand dollars, how does a 14 year old kid can earn 5 thousand dollars? I barely can make 3K in 6 months of an 8 dollar min wage job working straight 8 hours.

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JTP1 Avatar
57
2 Weeks ago

While I don't agree with cheating and the boy should be punished, EPIC is going to lose this if it goes to court. If Epic violated state law that is a criminal offense. The boy broke no criminal statues from the information given. Does not matter if they knew his age or not. This won't go well for Epic.

Best thing to do is settle out of court and hope Delwares DA doesn't go after them if in fact Epic broke state law.

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Homeworkman Avatar
3
2 Weeks ago

EPIC cannot possibly lose this if they go to court. It is copyright violation. They own the rights to showing the gameplay, it's no different than putting a movie on youtube. If your curious why things like let's play videos aren't taken down for it.

A. they are, it's not that common but they are, I think nintendo recently started doing this.

B. there is a legal grey area where things can become derivitive works and such if you provide a lot of your own unique commentary etc.

C. fair use comes into this as well, though once you hit 20 minutes of use and not 20 seconds, it's pretty clear cut your violating copyright.

He's guilty. "if epic violated state law this is a criminal offense" it's a criminal offense in the same manner that jaywalking is also a criminal offense. Being criminal does not automatically make it spooky terrifying. They did not release his information, they sued him and the suit became a matter of public record, HOWEVER they did not know he was a minor, more over THEY COULD NOT HAVE KNOWN. The only way to force him to acknowledge them and verify his identity was to sue him, if you read the lawsuits it specifically says we have reason to believe ...

This is hardly different than what's known as a john doe suit where your suing someone without entirely even knowing who that is, you know what right was violated, you know someone did it but you may not know who and you through a john doe suit use the court to uncover who in fact it is you are in fact suing.

Deleware state attorney is going to recognize this and not go after them.

The whole idea of it's free to play therefore they didn't lose money is BS. It's free to play, but it's also optional to pay and they lost out on options, or at least one can argue a game populated by cheaters is one legitimate players are less likely to spend money on playing. It's obvious EPIC isn't paying it's developers with player's enjoyment of the game. They are generating tons of revenue from the game, so yes they could easily produce a profit and loss statement and make an argument cheaters devalue the property.

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JTP1 Avatar
57
2 Weeks ago

They can't sue a minor. Maybe they go after the parents, but the suit is aimed at a child. They failed to properly identify whom they were suing other than a name and address.

It sounds like the boys mom has legal counsel already. I would take it to court. A lawyer I talked to as well, thinks EPIC probably wouldn't win this case, but that would be up to a jury in civil court and not many will want to convict a 14 yr old boy for cheating.

I don't support cheating of any kind, but EPIC picked the wrong target. Instead of going after the hard target of the website or developer of the hack, they are going after the soft target or users of the hack. That is weak at best. So you remove one of two people using the cheat, the site that distributes it is still doing so. What have they gained, other than bad publicity with the general public? Big bad company going after a kid who is barely a teenager for cheating. That won't resonate well.

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Darkedone02 Avatar
106
2 Weeks ago

Suing people over cheating is not the right way to go, you might be encouraging people to play legit but that message don't really mean much to begin with. Now you got a bunch of legal problems, you going after cheaters and not the program itself, which is pathetic, and you should of have decent protection to prevent this from happening and plug in the exploit that they found... So all the faults are aiming at you epic, it's like suing and banning the person who found an exploit and reporting it... it's basically pulling an EA here.

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QDP2 Avatar
884
2 Weeks ago

Sorry but this is nothing like 'suing and banning the person who found an exploit and [reported] it'

Why are you defending cheaters like they're innocent in the first place? They went out of their way, this kid presumably googled for Fortnite hacks, downloaded and installed it (or copied/pasted it into the game files) to be able to cheat. Whether or not he's a kid or an adult. Whether he read the EULA or skipped it; he will have known that cheating was against the rules. and his family should be fined for it.

Hunting down and charging caught individuals will reduce the number of cheaters in the game. Teach them they are not free from harm. It's not like you can perma-ban a player in a F2P game. Shut down their account and they'll simply create another. IP banning can't exist server side since game servers don't keep track of IPs that sent them data in the past, only what account the IP's linked too when it first starts up.

Chasing the content sources is important I agree, but we've all seen how hard that's been with providing websites like TPB and Torrentz being impossible to shut down. Anyone can upload the content anonymously nowadays; it's impossible to shut down all sources of hacks. Either way, existence of cheats doesn't make the cheater's actions acceptable.

There needs to be a way for cheaters to be punished directly. I say developers should find a way to add to the EULA (or load-in screen should the EULA have flaws/loopholes like this) that any cheaters caught with irrefutable proof shall result in a fine.

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Darkedone02 Avatar
106
2 Weeks ago

Ok so your in favor of suing individual people who cheat in a multiplayer game. It's quite funny how your in favor with Epic on this when you don't hear a lot of other game companies that do the same, suing people over this kinda bullshit...

I'm defending this cheater because I see it as bullshit to sue people, your making it more reliable for companies to become sue happy towards other gamers, both single player and multiplayer games, and I who cheat in single player games for the sheer enjoyment of it (infinite ammo on a destructive physic engine game like red faction guerrilla, hell yeah). I don't want to get sue for having fun in single player games.

I recommand a better and stronger defense, people use easyanticheat on certain games like ghost recon Wildlands and 7 days to die, and possibly more games that actually use easyanticheat program to prevent cheating.

I hope Epic loses this fight...

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QDP2 Avatar
884
2 Weeks ago

I agree that the single player experience shouldn't have an anti-cheat included. Seems I have good news for you though; There's no anti-virus on single player games.

To go into your examples: 7 days to Die and GR:Wildlands; 7D2D has many mods (including its own NexusMods page), and seems plenty fine with you modding away in single player. Anti-virus only kicks in with the multiplayer scenario.

Then GR:Wildlands; I didn't realise anyone still owned/played that game after its woeful Betas/reviews. Either way, it's an online-only game if I recall correctly. You're always on a server so that other players can drop in and out of your world randomly (they pop up on the map as icons if I recall correctly from the Closed Beta). To have hackers on the Online server is just begging for more problems when two players interact with each other. Ignoring the chances it'll lead to crashes for the PCs without the mods installed (getting told information that they don't know how to interpret) or the potential to overload low-spec PCs and cause imbalanced frame-rates based off who you're playing with; openning up to 1 type of hacker is openning to all types. You'll get people like yourself who just turn on God mode/infi-ammo in single player, but you'll also get people who join servers, spawn hundreds of enemies around the team then DC again before they can be reported. It's impossible to draw a line as to what's acceptable cheating and what's not; so from a legal and philosophical standpoint it makes much more sense to say no cheats at all in online experiences.

I haven't heard of even a SINGLE case of a company pursuing or charging a player for messing with a single player experience. Please correct me if I'm wrong; point out an example of a SINGLE player game with anti-virus banning people, or an example of a person getting sued for cheating whilst playing a solo-experience game.

Most games approach it the same way nowadays; having Antivirus enabled/reporting on the multiplayer servers, and disabling the antivirus (or stopping it from reporting faults) in single-player. Developers know the value of mods (see where Skyrim is today, with mods on all platforms). This is the way gaming should be. Problem comes when people decide they'd rather break game rules to abuse others in game. There's no defense or argument valid for this kind of 'gaming' (even this example with the kid; the best defense they can come up with is an evasion of justice). You want to explain where your defense for cheating in Fortnite comes from too? The game is built on its competitive ladder and Player Vs Player content. Please do try and explain why this kind of person should not be sued; or why companies should ignore the individuals who aim to find enjoyment through annoying others.

I've stopped playing multiplayer games before now because of cheaters (CS:GO, H1Z1, ARK and CoD to name a few). I feel confident in saying I'm not alone in people who've quit titles because of such abundance of cheaters before now, leading to the point that these hackers are literally hurting the games economy; reducing the player-base, creating more negative reviews and overall reducing title and DLC sales. Screw them. Steam IP banning should be a thing in my opinion. Let the suckers who repeatedly get VAC banned be removed from the eco-system. With their lack of games over the recent years, Steam have the money to sort out the infrastructure of IP recognition to halt and reject blacklisted IPs. If the game companies can't do anything about it, bring the restriction up a level. Give people something to actually fear and maybe they'll cheat less. Our current position is that people feel indestructible, happily cheating in the knowledge the worst that can happen is the game account gets banned. Oh no, they have to make a new account; such a hard life. Guess they'll just have to cheat to bring the account back up to the same level. Yet more cheating added. The cycle continues. This cycle needs to end.

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et operiet ipsos formido Avatar
38

- Putting the debatable efficacy of this method aside (it's not feasible to bring every cheater to court, so it's mostly a bluff, though a strong one), litigation is not especially more anti-consumer than mandatory installations of difficult to remove, completely invasive systems monitoring third party software. That's what anti-cheating software generally are. Some of these are even known to keylog.

- What's the incentive (financial or otherwise) to sue players cheating in single player games? Why actually would anyone ever do that? Ever?

- The presence of cheating in any multiplayer game makes it unplayable, or seem unplayable (which has the same result since populations inevitably disappear). That's actively anti-consumer; it's preventing consumption of those games. Why would you defend any party actively impinging on consumer rights if your position is to defend consumer rights? That's a direct self-contradiction.

Again, I don't know that litigation is the solution. But cheating in a multiplayer game in itself is simply indefensible.

(Edit: I see QDP2 had many of the same thoughts I did. Apologies for being a bit redundant.)

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Sinkmeat Avatar
1
2 Weeks ago

That's regardless, your *personal* opinion does not invalidate their claim. Whether you think the process of suing is bad or not, it's the only thing you can do. What do you propose Epic does? Ban them? like QPD already said, they don't track IPs, all they'll do is make a new account and cause more money loss. Track them down and beat them? All they can do to say "We've said this a dozen fucking times, and even if you didn't read the EULA (Despite in my opinion, some companies NEEDING to have big, long EULAs or they can be open to cheating, liability for a player thinking their experience was ruined because of action/inaction on the player's part when they've been "Promised" a good experience, and so many other things that can put the company on the end of the "Sue happiness" you hate oh-so-much) we've told you not to cheat and banned you over it multiple times, and because of your actions now millions of players are doing this and are abusing the system we have in place, thus making godly-OP characters run around on servers and fucking over people who haven't cheated, which is making them leave, making it so the cheaters are a loss of income and the people who could've been supporting us are now a loss of income as well". Saying "I don't like companies getting sue happy" is manipulative beyond belief. They're not going bitch-slapping every person who whispers of cheats with lawsuit notices. Not to mention the "I don't wanna get sued for cheating in single player games" makes me gag. Don't you dare try to act like companies are gonna sue you for cheating in single player games. There's a reason why Nexus for Skyrim, Fallout, Dishonored, The Sims, Overgrowth, Neo Scavenger. the Etcs have etcs on this list, all allow cheat mods exactly the same as they do graphic mods with not an ounce of backlash from companies.

I'd go on but most all of the points I'd bring up are things QDP has already made. Your comment just reeks of desperation, what with the manipulative wording (Not just "I don't want companies suing" because Epic is suing one person, "I don't want companies getting SUE HAPPY!".. Because Epic is suing one person, "I don't wanna get sued for cheating in a single player game" when no one brought that up, which means you're not just replying to someone, you're actively trying to make this a point of yours etc.) and the ignoring of points QDP made that were irrefutable. I'm all down with defending something you believe in but there's a point whee you just say "Yea you have a point" and leave it at that, because even if you don't go into detail on why it's a good point and give your opposer's cock a gooood suckin' it makes you look more humble then if you start exaggerating things to extremes and blatantly making up shit in an effort to fearmonger and support your points you look like 10x more of a jackass for it. Like seriously I am extraordinarily respectful to strangers online, especially when there's no reason to be because I know they'll probably only become more respectful at the fact I'm being nice despite their assholeishness, and if not it only makes my points look stronger. But your points have already been dismantled by QDP in such a respectful manner and your comment is so manipulative and desperate I feel like it gives me a bit of space to be the asshole I wanna be.

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WhiteCrow Avatar
438
2 Weeks ago

"you should of have decent protection to prevent this from happening and plug in the exploit that they found... So all the faults are aiming at you epic, it's like suing and banning the person who found an exploit and reporting it... it's basically pulling an EA here."

Holy shit you're dumb.

The kid, and the other kids who used these cheats from the forums he moderated altered the game in some way for the cheats to work. This isn't some "exploit" they took advantage of. It isn't up to Epic to force people to be morally responsible and not attempt these things in the first place. It's not as if their game is like swiss cheese full of backdoors and exploits just begging to be taken advantage of.

1