Friday, May 5th 2017

Blizzard Pays Generous Bounty for Original Starcraft "Gold Master" Source CD

It's never fun to be contacted by a legal department and be told that something you bought online is not rightfully yours. Still, this occasionally does happen in the case of intellectual property that has been misplaced and is not supposed to be resold. Example: The case of Reddit user Khemist49, who found himself in possession of a CD-ROM claiming to be the original source code for the game "StarCraft." Where did he get said disc? A box of "old Blizzard-related stuff" he bought on Ebay in April. Thinking he had something special, he posted on Reddit asking what to do with it.
He got the usual answers of course. Post it somewhere, be a god among pirates, etc... but Khemist49 did the unthinkable instead: He actually turned the game in to Blizzard. Of course, Blizzard legal was involved in influencing his decision, but this story is not without heart, for it has a happy ending. Upon returning the CD, Blizzard proceeded to shower him with a pile of gifts including a $250 gift card for the Blizzard Store, a Razer keyboard, and a lot of other goodies. Blizzard even offered to pay for Khemist49 to come to BlizzCon that year.

It's nice to see a company reward its users for doing the right thing for a change, if nothing else.Source: mashable.com
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25 Comments on Blizzard Pays Generous Bounty for Original Starcraft "Gold Master" Source CD

#1
R-T-B
Dj-ElectriC said:
generous...

Multi-billion dollar corporation, 250$, a ticket to their own show, a 40$ game...
Technically, they owed him nothing but a stern stare. Generous may be relative, but generous it is from a legal standpoint.
Posted on Reply
#2
Tartaros
I don't want to know how much blizzard would pay if he decided not to show that disc until decades later.
Posted on Reply
#3
Darmok N Jalad
Nice gesture for sure. It doesn't sound like he paid anywhere near what Blizzard gave him in return.
Posted on Reply
#4
bonehead123
Darmok N Jalad said:
Nice gesture for sure. It doesn't sound like he paid anywhere near what Blizzard gave him in return.
nice ST-TNG reference, had to look 2x to be sure thats what I was seeing :)
Posted on Reply
#5
efikkan
To my knowledge, Blizzard wanted this returned due to some "trade secrets" in their IP. And if that's true, they should have given him like $10,000 in cash; enough to encourage the return of lost confidential material, but not enough to encourage extortion.

Anyone thinking a 19 year old source code dump is worth millions by itself is mistaken. It's not like this code is going to be valuable for competing developers out there. Any developer who has worked on a large project knows you can't copy and paste code from random sources into your own code base, in most cases it requires more adjustments than writing your own stuff. Just getting to know a large foreign code base usually takes months for skilled developers. So Blizzard shouldn't be worried that the competition would change from such leaks. It's not like big source dumps have changed things in the past. Many years ago large parts of the Windows 2000 source code was dumped, but that didn't spawn any "forks" of Windows or give "competitors" like Linux any new advantage.

Personally I think that products that no longer have any commercial value should be open sourced, if only to be used as research for education and historical preservation. It's not like this would impact any trademarks.
Posted on Reply
#6
Darmok N Jalad
efikkan said:
To my knowledge, Blizzard wanted this returned due to some "trade secrets" in their IP. And if that's true, they should have given him like $10,000 in cash; enough to encourage the return of lost confidential material, but not enough to encourage extortion.

Anyone thinking a 19 year old source code dump is worth millions by itself is mistaken. It's not like this code is going to be valuable for competing developers out there. Any developer who has worked on a large project knows you can't copy and paste code from random sources into your own code base, in most cases it requires more adjustments than writing your own stuff. Just getting to know a large foreign code base usually takes months for skilled developers. So Blizzard shouldn't be worried that the competition would change from such leaks. It's not like big source dumps have changed things in the past. Many years ago large parts of the Windows 2000 source code was dumped, but that didn't spawn any "forks" of Windows or give "competitors" like Linux any new advantage.

Personally I think that products that no longer have any commercial value should be open sourced, if only to be used as research for education and historical preservation. It's not like this would impact any trademarks.
Perhaps there are aspects of the game engine that they are still using today? Wearing a conspiracy hat for a second, what if the source code revealed that it was Blizzard that had stepped on someone else's copyright? It's been known to happen.
Posted on Reply
#7
Dammeron
efikkan said:
To my knowledge, Blizzard wanted this returned due to some "trade secrets" in their IP. And if that's true, they should have given him like $10,000 in cash; enough to encourage the return of lost confidential material, but not enough to encourage extortion.

Anyone thinking a 19 year old source code dump is worth millions by itself is mistaken. It's not like this code is going to be valuable for competing developers out there. Any developer who has worked on a large project knows you can't copy and paste code from random sources into your own code base, in most cases it requires more adjustments than writing your own stuff. Just getting to know a large foreign code base usually takes months for skilled developers. So Blizzard shouldn't be worried that the competition would change from such leaks. It's not like big source dumps have changed things in the past. Many years ago large parts of the Windows 2000 source code was dumped, but that didn't spawn any "forks" of Windows or give "competitors" like Linux any new advantage.

Personally I think that products that no longer have any commercial value should be open sourced, if only to be used as research for education and historical preservation. It's not like this would impact any trademarks.
Tell that to Gearbox, who are never to re-release (read "make money") Homeworld Cataclysm, cause it's source code has been lost for years.
Posted on Reply
#8
efikkan
Darmok N Jalad said:
Perhaps there are aspects of the game engine that they are still using today?
Very unlikely. Even the game logic part has probably been rewritten for Starcraft II.

Darmok N Jalad said:

Wearing a conspiracy hat for a second, what if the source code revealed that it was Blizzard that had stepped on someone else's copyright? It's been known to happen.
Yes, it's been known to happen, so it's not far fetched at all.
I would say the possible explanations are:
- Source contains licensed IP (very common even today)
- Source contains stolen IP
- Source may reveal vulnerabilities in online services (battle.net in this case)
- Source may reveal a super-smart algorithm (unlikely)

Still, I would have loved to spend a couple of weekends reading through the code just to see how well written it is.

Dammeron said:
Tell that to Gearbox, who are never to re-release (read "make money") Homeworld Cataclysm, cause it's source code has been lost for years.
Yes, you are right. If the developer has lost the source code then it can be worth millions to them, but it's still "worthless" to others.
Posted on Reply
#9
Tsukiyomi91
while some say his actions is for the good, others say that he should've copied the disc in secret & then give back to Blizzard. To me, outdated source code or not, it's something that belongs to the developers & it's up to them whether to disclose it or not.
Posted on Reply
#10
Prima.Vera
efikkan said:

Yes, you are right. If the developer has lost the source code then it can be worth millions to them, but it's still "worthless" to others.
Dude, loosing a ”source code” is getting a cliche even on the low budget Boliwood movies or such. Common. If you think there aren't 1 million+ copies and backups, then....lol.
Posted on Reply
#11
Frick
Fishfaced Nincompoop
Prima.Vera said:
Dude, loosing a ”source code” is getting a cliche even on the low budget Boliwood movies or such. Common. If you think there aren't 1 million+ copies and backups, then....lol.
Again, Homeworld Cataclysm.
Posted on Reply
#12
medi01
I have a tad different definition of "generous".
On the other hand, I don't think anyone would care about mentioned sources anyhow.

Frick said:
Again, Homeworld Cataclysm.
Was developed by a tiny studio that got renamed/disbanded/whatnot.

I wouldn't expect this kind of shit to happen to Blizzard, which flourished and broke revenue/income records like from the very beginning, which decade ago had a team of 85 dudes doing game cinematic alone.
Posted on Reply
#13
TheGuruStud
Embarrassing.

I would have uploaded it out of spite. Threaten me and you'll just get a beating.
Posted on Reply
#14
Mescalamba
Im sure that certain ppl would be happy if they had source code for last version of HoMaM 3 including all datadiscs. :D
Posted on Reply
#15
Bluescreendeath
R-T-B said:
Technically, they owed him nothing but a stern stare. Generous may be relative, but generous it is from a legal standpoint.
That would depend on how stupid their legal department is in potentially creating a PR disaster.

They may have the legal standing, but going after him would be penny wise but dollar foolish.
Posted on Reply
#16
pantherx12
If blizzard me offered me that as a reward I'd of accidentally lost the source code.

Cheap bastards, yes they owe the guy nothing but considering the potential damage he could of done it's almost insulting.

I mean at the least offer like life time wow subscription or something, something that would cost blizzard nothing but has a high value.
Posted on Reply
#17
geon2k2
In which universe is a mouse and a keyboard a "generous bounty"?
Posted on Reply
#18
ogharaei
TPU Proofreader
They put $250 on his account for purchases over the Blizzard store, mailed him all those things in the picture, and offered to pay for his flight, ticket, and hotel room for Blizzcon. There was also no "negotiation" to secure those goods or the $250 on his account before he mailed the CD back. He simply mailed the CD back and Blizzard randomly surprised him with those gifts.

It isn't so much about how much these gifts are worth, but, rather, about the way Blizzard chose to react and interact with Khemist49. Blizzard could have given him $10,000, but instead thought about what someone who actually purchased a bunch of random Blizzard-related junk on Ebay—probably also someone who grew up with Blizzard's games and still loves playing their games today—would appreciate getting as a thank you gift. I mean, haven't you ever wracked your brains over what to get a friend for their birthday instead of simply putting a $50 bill into an envelope with a happy birthday card?
Posted on Reply
#19
geon2k2
ogharaei said:
They put $250 on his account for purchases over the Blizzard store, mailed him all those things in the picture, and offered to pay for his flight, ticket, and hotel room for Blizzcon. There was also no "negotiation" to secure those goods or the $250 on his account before he mailed the CD back. He simply mailed the CD back and Blizzard randomly surprised him with those gifts.

It isn't so much about how much these gifts are worth, but, rather, about the way Blizzard chose to react and interact with Khemist49. Blizzard could have given him $10,000, but instead thought about what someone who actually purchased a bunch of random Blizzard-related junk on Ebay - probably then also someone who grew up with Blizzard's games, someone who still loves to play their games today - would appreciate getting as a meaningful thank you gift. I mean, haven't you ever wracked your brains over what to get a friend for their birthday instead of simply putting a $50 bill into an envelope with a happy birthday card?
If you put it like this, yes it does sound nice, but that disk is something unique, something worth far far more than a mouse a keyboard or even blizcon ticket.
Why do people pay hundreds of milions on an 80 year old rols royce, they cannot drive? Its something unique, nobody else has. The same with this disk, while worthless by itself it is unique, and this gives him so much more value.
Posted on Reply
#20
esrever
ogharaei said:
They put $250 on his account for purchases over the Blizzard store, mailed him all those things in the picture, and offered to pay for his flight, ticket, and hotel room for Blizzcon. There was also no "negotiation" to secure those goods or the $250 on his account before he mailed the CD back. He simply mailed the CD back and Blizzard randomly surprised him with those gifts.

It isn't so much about how much these gifts are worth, but, rather, about the way Blizzard chose to react and interact with Khemist49. Blizzard could have given him $10,000, but instead thought about what someone who actually purchased a bunch of random Blizzard-related junk on Ebay - probably then also someone who grew up with Blizzard's games, someone who still loves to play their games today - would appreciate getting as a meaningful thank you gift. I mean, haven't you ever wracked your brains over what to get a friend for their birthday instead of simply putting a $50 bill into an envelope with a happy birthday card?
It just shows how dumb the guy is. I seen this story posted is so many sites now and every time, it sounds like PR push from blizzard when the whole thing costed the billion dollar company like $1000 total. Fools who don't know the value of their assets will walk away from a scam thinking they got the better deal.
Posted on Reply
#21
ogharaei
TPU Proofreader
esrever said:
It just shows how dumb the guy is.
If I somehow lose, say, my laptop and someone returns it to me for free, that person is simply doing what is morally right.
Posted on Reply
#22
Ripper3
The comments section really just shows how little people value someone else's possessions. Whether it's a company asset, or a personal possession; unique, or mass produced and distributed; worth millions, or worthless, if it's someone else's possession, then it's morally and legally correct to return it to them.
You may consider the reward not so generous, but large rewards can be investigated under extortion and bribery laws. Dealing with that could be an enormous headache for the company, and lead to annoyed shareholders.

Speaking of value, considering Blizzard is going to sell a remake that is backwards compatible, the source would be useful for modders and cheaters especially. If you can exploit the game at a source level, you can gain an advantage in online games, while being less likely to be discovered. There's always someone that will attach value to that. Even with the patches changing things, as long as the source at networking level hasn't changed dramatically, exploits would still be possible.
Posted on Reply
#23
R-T-B
Bluescreendeath said:
That would depend on how stupid their legal department is in potentially creating a PR disaster.

They may have the legal standing, but going after him would be penny wise but dollar foolish.
Of course. I was only speaking from a legal perspective. What they did makes perfect sense from a PR perspective... which is why they did it. What the guy did (turning it in) also makes perfect sense when you realize posting it online could easily have netted him jail time and/or a hefty legal fine.

ogharaei said:
They put $250 on his account for purchases over the Blizzard store, mailed him all those things in the picture, and offered to pay for his flight, ticket, and hotel room for Blizzcon. There was also no "negotiation" to secure those goods or the $250 on his account before he mailed the CD back. He simply mailed the CD back and Blizzard randomly surprised him with those gifts.

It isn't so much about how much these gifts are worth, but, rather, about the way Blizzard chose to react and interact with Khemist49. Blizzard could have given him $10,000, but instead thought about what someone who actually purchased a bunch of random Blizzard-related junk on Ebay—probably also someone who grew up with Blizzard's games and still loves playing their games today—would appreciate getting as a thank you gift. I mean, haven't you ever wracked your brains over what to get a friend for their birthday instead of simply putting a $50 bill into an envelope with a happy birthday card?
That's what I thought was touching. They actually kind of looked at this guy said "hey, he likes Blizzard. We can provide that." Not a bad move at all IMO.
Posted on Reply
#24
Caring1
esrever said:
It just shows how dumb the guy is. I seen this story posted is so many sites now and every time, it sounds like PR push from blizzard when the whole thing costed the billion dollar company like $1000 total. Fools who don't know the value of their assets will walk away from a scam thinking they got the better deal.
Speaking of showing how dumb someone can appear.
You are aware stolen goods are not your property just because you bought them right?
Posted on Reply
#25
Dammeron
Caring1 said:
You are aware stolen goods are not your property just because you bought them right?
It's called "fencing" and in my country the punishment for it is bigger than for the theft.
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