Here’s the latest love note from John Smedley, ambassador of goodwill to the player community:

Ok.. if you want to play hardball, I can do that too.

The documentation that you recieved doesn’t have the Verant Copyright because someone TOOK IT OUT. I can at this point only assume it was you.

If it’s not down in 2 hours, Verant’s lawyers will be in contact with you. Is that Bad Cop enough for you? It’s 11:00am here in San Diego. I will check it at 1:00pm.

and please re-read my first email and note the nice tone. That’s the way I like to do business.


John Smedley
President and CEO
Verant Interactive, Inc.

Well, normally I would have many options at this point, such as studying John’s first email searching for his nice tone (B flat? F sharp?), checking my original .RTF copy that I was emailed AGAIN for copyright notices that I didn’t remove, or contacting one of hundreds of net.lawyers who live for this sort of thing. However, in between the many “You go, Lum! Stick it to the MAN!” emails (which I did appreciate, and damn, you guys check this web site pretty obsessively, since I started getting them within SECONDS of my update) I got a pointer to this interesting page on copyrights and the web. The first paragraph especially is of interest:

1) “If it doesn’t have a copyright notice, it’s not copyrighted.” This was true in the past, but today almost all major nations follow the Berne copyright convention. For example, in the USA, almost everything created privately and originally after April 1, 1989 is copyrighted and protected whether it has a notice or not. The default you should assume for other people’s works is that they are copyrighted and may not be copied unless you know otherwise. There are some old works that lost protection without notice, but frankly you should not risk it unless you know for sure.

It is true that a notice strengthens the protection, by warning people, and by allowing one to get more and different damages, but it is not necessary. If it looks copyrighted, you should assume it is. This applies to pictures, too. You may not scan pictures from magazines and post them to the net, and if you come upon something unknown, you shouldn’t post that either.

So basically I have the option of spending thousands of dollars to make myself the Defender of Net Freedom, only to eventually lose, or to accede to Emporer Crush’s demands. So if you didn’t get the file when I told you, enjoy that 404 File Not Found message.

What’s the point of all this?

Certainly not the file in question… it wasn’t really that interesting, although it did give some insight into how the support program works (and I’m sure the GMs will be getting “Gimme a /buff!” pages now). What’s interesting is how none of this was actually ever public knowledge, and Verant’s reaction when it was. From talks with other webmasters, 90% of Verant’s communications with the player community are in tones similar to what I got… if they post something Verant doesn’t like, they are summarily ordered to remove it. With the undertone of “while we may not technically control the Internet, we do have more money to spend on lawyers than YOU do.”

Is there any website out there, with the possible exception of the abysmally run, “we are the only professional UO and EQ website” Vault Network, that Verant even takes seriously? I doubt it, considering the pottery exploit totally blindsided them and was openly discussed for weeks before the offending patch on various websites.

The problem, it seems to me, is that Verant sees the players as the enemy.

There is no communication between the developers and the players save brief unstructured chat sessions; there is no accountability or even acknowledgement that Verant sees itself as accountable for various destructive changes being made to Everquest. It’s their baby, and they’ll be the first to tell you as such.

The way I see it, there is only one moral way to respond, and that is an account cancellation.

I plan to cancel my EQ account today, and I urge all who agree with what I’ve posted here to do likewise. CANCEL it, don’t resell it.

I harbor no illusions of this having any impact whatsoever; I don’t even count on anyone besides myself would actually carry through and cancel their account.

However, the morality of an action is not dependent on its popularity or its effectiveness. What is right, simply is. And I can no longer let someone, who sees me and those who work with me as an enemy, access to my credit card.

Needless to say, Everquest-related updates to this site will somewhat decrease.