Epic Games took on the touchy topic of Fortnite cheaters last week, saying that thousands had already been banned and warning of more to come. “We’re exploring every measure to ensure these cheaters are removed and stay removed from Fortnite Battle Royale and the Epic ecosystem,” the studio said. And apparently it wasn’t dicking around: Epic has filed two lawsuits, one against Brandon Broom and the other against Charles Vraspir, for copyright infringement, breach of contract, and other such bits of illegality, all as a result of cheating.
“The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (‘DMCA’) was enacted in 1998 to bring the Copyright Act into the digital age. Among other things, the DMCA prohibits the circumvention of any technological measure that effectively controls access to a protected work and grants copyright owners the right to enforce that prohibition,” the suit against Vraspir says. (The one filed against Broom is very similar.)
“This is a copyright infringement and breach of contract case in which the Defendant is infringing Epic’s copyrights by injecting unauthorized computer code into the copyright protected code of Epic’s popular Fortnite video game. In so doing, Defendant is creating unauthorized derivative works of Fortnite by modifying the game code and, thus, materially altering the game that the code creates and the experience of those who play it.”
Vraspir’s cheating is “ruining the game playing experience of others who do not cheat,” and while he was banned from the game for doing it, he “nevertheless continued to play using other accounts he created using false names.” That in itself might be tolerable—who among us has not created an alt to bypass the cruel hand of an unfair and uncaring cosmos?—but he has also “continued to cheat, induce others to cheat, and has modified, and instructed other cheaters how to modify, the cheats so that they are specifically designed to circumvent technological measures Epic put in place to control access to Fornite’s copyrighted code in an effort to prevent cheating.”
The suit claims that both Vraspir and Broom are part of AddictedCheats.net, Vraspir a “support/help person” and Broom a “moderator and member of the support staff.” That elevates their case beyond simple cheating as well, as the site charges for access to its cheats. It also brings to mind Blizzard’s lawsuit against Bossland, the maker of the Buddy Bot software, which ended with an $8.6 million win for Blizzard.
“When cheaters use aimbots or other cheat technologies to gain an unfair advantage, they ruin games for people who are playing fairly,” an Epic rep said. “We take cheating seriously, and we’ll pursue all available options to make sure our games are fun, fair, and competitive for players.”
The suits don’t mention specific numbers, but Epic is seeking statutory damages for copyright infringement from both parties, as well as any profits they may have earned from the sale of their cheats, legal fees, and an injunction against any further cheating. More importantly, though, the suits send a message, very early and firmly: Cheaters will not be tolerated.