Legality issues related to development

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90 Human Paladin
14410
I was in the middle of developing an app for the Android platform when I saw that many of the WoW related apps, including WoWTalents (both paid AND free) and the donation version of Droid Armory, on the Android Market were removed. As a developer for the Android, this concerns me. Where is the legal line on things we can/can't do with these new and upcoming APIs? I understand that both of the aforementioned apps had paid/donate versions. While I can't speak for WoWTalents, as I never did get a chance to use it, I know that the Droid Armory did not contain any new features in the donation version. The only thing the donation did was remove the ads as a thank you for donating. I was planning on following a similar model, but again, now I'm concerned because Blizzard seems to take issue with apps like this. I can understand that WoW is a Blizzard property and they have the right to say "No, you can't make money off our property" (however, many websites do make money off WoW, so even this confuses me a bit...guild websites come to mind. Maybe they pay royalties?), but people still spend a ton of time developing apps/websites and they should have the right to get something out of their work, no?

The TLDR:

1. What can we/can we not do while developing websites/apps in regards to Blizzard IP?
2. Can we charge for our work (ie: paid apps)? Can we provide a free version, but with ads?

Any clarification would be greatly appreciated.
Web & Mobile Team
Good morning. I'm in the process of working with some other teams to help answer these and a few other related questions. I'll reply as soon as I have answers.
Web & Mobile Team
Unfortunately, the use of Blizzard IP is prohibited without a license and you can’t use any Blizzard IP commercially.
90 Human Paladin
14410
Thank you for looking into that for me, Straton, I appreciate it. So, let me just make sure I have a full understanding because I can interpret how you phrased "the use of Blizzard IP is prohibited without a license" two different ways. If you can clarify which of these two (or if there's third meaning that I didn't list) is accurate, that'd be great:

1. We can't use any Blizzard IP, period. No images, data, etc regarding any Blizzard products. This would make any website/app regarding WoW near impossible to make since they'd be useless without any data about WoW.

2. We can't use any Blizzard IP commercially, but so long as there is no charge for use/acquisition of the website/app, it's allowable. I want to say that this is what is meant because otherwise there wouldn't be much point to allowing anyone to have access to any APIs. If this is the case, are free, ad-support apps and websites OK? I'm assuming these are fine because many websites have information/data regarding WoW that also have ads.

I appreciate your help ahead of time. I'm just trying to save myself, Blizzard, and hopefully other devs time by getting these ground rules clearly laid out.
Edited by Elimine on 4/25/2011 2:26 PM PDT
Web & Mobile Team
I strongly recommend you contact api-support@blizzard.com so we can put you in contact with people more qualified to answer these questions.
90 Human Paladin
14410
Thanks Straton, I'll do that.
90 Blood Elf Paladin
11425
Elimine,

If you could cross post their reply here on the forums (to this thread) I think that other developers would be interested in the answers.

96 Troll Mage
16220
Yes please post. I'd also like to see the legality issues with say a guild website that uses the API but is supported with ad revenue.
62 Human Death Knight
550
Agreed. This information is vital to have. Please post back when you have an answer.
90 Human Paladin
14410
I e-mailed that address the same day, and I'm still awaiting a reply. When/if I get a response I'll post it here, but so far I've gotten nothing back.
85 Troll Warlock
5575
I'm wondering if this also applies to websites that are using the api to commercially host guild websites
90 Human Paladin
14410
05/03/2011 11:12 AMPosted by Elithara
I'm wondering if this also applies to websites that are using the api to commercially host guild websites


This was my initial thought. There are tons of guild hosting websites out there that offer premium services at a price. How are they allowed to do this, and your every day app developer can't? It doesn't make much sense to me unless all of these websites are writing up contracts with Blizzard.
100 Night Elf Hunter
12330
the price you pay at these sites is for the host not the content if you look at there tos and tou they say any fees are relavent to the host or priemium no-ad sites not the blizzard content or anything else
90 Human Paladin
14410
One could say the same thing for ad-removal on any app, that all you're paying for is the removal of the ads. This apparently is not legitimate in the eyes of Blizzard from what I've seen happen in the Android Market. Most of the apps that did this were removed.
20 Worgen Rogue
130
05/09/2011 04:05 AMPosted by Elimine
One could say the same thing for ad-removal on any app, that all you're paying for is the removal of the ads. This apparently is not legitimate in the eyes of Blizzard from what I've seen happen in the Android Market. Most of the apps that did this were removed.


Because they are trying to make money off of Blizzard IP's. Of course it's not allowed.
100 Night Elf Hunter
12330
well to be honest i dont think anything wow related should have a price on it ... blizzard offers lots of thing free why should some one make money off something they do for free.. but in the end It IS Blizzards call they own it they have final say .. the best you can do is ask for permishiona nd hope they say yes...
90 Human Paladin
14410
05/09/2011 03:27 PMPosted by Gearvosh
One could say the same thing for ad-removal on any app, that all you're paying for is the removal of the ads. This apparently is not legitimate in the eyes of Blizzard from what I've seen happen in the Android Market. Most of the apps that did this were removed.


Because they are trying to make money off of Blizzard IP's. Of course it's not allowed.


Again, I ask, how can Curse, Wowhead, Wowstead, etc charge for premium services related to Blizzard IP? Wowstead, for example, unlocks new themes as one of the premium features. These themes are directly related to and use parts of Blizzard IP.


05/09/2011 08:16 PMPosted by Ulminia
well to be honest i dont think anything wow related should have a price on it ... blizzard offers lots of thing free why should some one make money off something they do for free.. but in the end It IS Blizzards call they own it they have final say .. the best you can do is ask for permishiona nd hope they say yes...


Yes, Blizzard does offer many things like the Armory and such for free, and they certainly don't HAVE to. They could charge to have access to the entire Armory, for example. Keep in mind that Blizzard has many different products and places that they make revenue in from WoW. An average app developer could have a full-time job, however they have no obligation to create said app. A lot of times these apps tend to fill gaps that Blizzard doesn't already have covered. As the Goblins would say, time is money. Some developers have a lot of free time and just want to make things as personal challenges/exercises and will do this for free. Other developers don't have a lot of free time and look to get some sort of compensation for their efforts (paid or ad-revenue of some sort). Not to mention that it takes more time after development to support the app and add new features.

In the end, Blizzard gets to choose what's allowed and what's not. If they say no go, then that's the rule. However, if that is the answer, I'd be curious to hear how other websites like those above get away with premium services.
85 Human Rogue
6285
Well, the sites you have listed actually don't charge for Blizzard IP. Wowhead offers custom graphics, removal of adds, custom avatars, but anything and everything related to WoW is accessible for free. Curse.com offers extra simultaneous downloads and a few other features for premium service. Again not Blizzard IP. Wowstead same thing, custom themes and added features but not Blizzard IP.

With all that said, there are several legal loopholes that simply can't be touched when it comes to a business model. Blizzard has every right to enforce their ToS, ToU and guidelines within the law, but that law also provides ways for alternative sources of income. I don't think Blizzard has a problem with a site that pulls from the API that finds a creative way to support itself. They just don't want people for charging for what they offer free or they themselves charge for.
90 Human Paladin
14410
Obviously one cannot flat out charge for Blizzard IP. I understand this is ridiculous, and that Blizzard has every right (and should) stop people from doing this. However, what I've been trying to get at is how is an app charging for ad removal different than Curse, for example, charging for ad removal? They sound the same to me, and this is honestly what I'm trying to figure out. Can someone charge for simply the removal of ads and nothing else?
100 Night Elf Hunter
12330
its possable but agian it has to do with blizzards tos but .. have you given credit to bliz for any thing? we ar wowroster offer a completely free guild roster (php mysql based website) and wow addon to get info from the game, on everypage we have a credit setion in the footer
World of Warcraft and Blizzard Entertainment are trademarks or registered trademarks of Blizzard Entertainment, Inc. in the U.S. and/or other countries. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

i dont think we are required to but we want people to know the game and the images are from the game are Blizzards IP not ours only thing we have taken credit for is the coding and minipulation of the data we can get

Blizzard should be able to release a clean cut totaly CLEAR (no mumbojumbo) for us to go buy once this happens we are good to go with what we can and cant do. I personaly wouldent charge for something i made i may ask for donations but thats as far as i would go...
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