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  • Master's Thesis: A Legal Analysis of Cheating in Online Multiplayer Games

    [06.10.05]
    - Joel Zetterström
  • Abstract

    This Master Thesis deals with the legal issues of cheating in online multiplayer games, particularly in the three major game genres; First Person Shooters, Real Time Strategy and Massive Multiplayer Online Role-playing games. The industry is growing rapidly as Internet connectivity increases, and is thus forced to face new challenges; specifically the problem of cheating in online games. This paper examines and analyses legal strategies that can be used to combat cheating, ending with conclusions on how and when they can be used most effectively to limit the amount of cheats in computer games.

    Because of the global nature of the Internet and the gaming industry, the legal focus is placed on the United States and the European Union. Law differs from country to country, but international conventions provide a common ground – especially regarding Intellectual Property rights. The European Union have produced a number Regulations and Directives that the member countries are obligated to uphold nationally, thereby creating a somewhat harmonized legislation that can be used to make legal predictions valid for all member states. This is augmented with a US perspective, which probably is the single biggest market for computer games.

    The first part of the thesis describes the phenomenon of online gaming in order to provide a sufficient background on the subject for the uninitiated reader, but also to examine the mechanisms of, and structures behind, cheating. The second part examines the processes of how cheats are created and the legal measurements that can be used to prevent such creations, specifically copyright laws. The third part focuses on the spreading of cheats, if and how such spreading can be stopped with legal means. Trademark laws together with rules about the takedowns of websites containing illegal material are analyzed and discussed. The fourth part deals with the use of cheats in the games, and how such use can be stopped with contractual means. The validity of wrap agreements, i.e. electronic contracts, with specific examples is examined and their effectiveness evaluated. Part five of the thesis contains a brief examination about cheating as a crime, and criminal law pertinent to the subject is provided. The sixth part compares the phenomenon of cheating in cyber sports to that of regular sports, and if lessons learned in the sports world about cheating (specifically doping) can be carried over to cyber sports. The thesis ends in a conclusion part which discusses the findings of the above mentioned chapters in an effort to find the most effective legal strategies that can be used to limit cheating in online computer games.

    "A Legal Analysis of Cheating in Online Multiplayer Games" by Joel Zetterström, Master's Thesis, 95 Pages, Acrobat PDF

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