Client modification, the EULA and you

By CCP Stillman
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Greetings honourable spaceship pilots!

As mentioned in our last dev blog, we’ve been putting a lot of effort into some exciting things in our war on people who violate our EULA and TOS and try to cheat in New Eden. This is of course behavior we do not accept happening, and we’ve been taking steps to address this problem.

You may have read different third-party blogs by now speculating about some recent addition to our technology that aims to combat client modification. We’re watching the reaction to the steps that we’ve taken, but today I want to share with you some information about our efforts and address some concerns we’ve been seeing over the last few months in regards to what our EULA and TOS permits.

Action taken against client-modification

I want to start off with letting you know about action we took today during downtime. Through our new detection systems we detected 2350 accounts as using a specific hack, “Autopilot to zero”, which is strictly against our EULA, as it is only possible with client modification. Our normal policy for dealing with client modification is to apply a permanent ban to accounts in question and any associated account.

However we recognize that we’ve addressed the particular issue of client modification poorly up until this point, and specific types of client modification may have been seen as “acceptable” to some people as a result of our inaction. Therefore, we’ve made an exception for most of the 2350 accounts affected today, and only applied 30 day bans. In the cases where we’ve determined that the accounts were in violation of other parts of our EULA or also were detected as using other client modification, we applied a permanent ban instead.

It is extremely important to stress that this was a 1-time exception. In the future, we will be sticking to our normal policy where client modification is a permanent ban.

A word on our detection methods and client modification

We’ve heard a lot of concerns from people who are afraid that “legitimate” applications, such as Fraps, Teamspeak, and Mumble that interact with the EVE process in different ways could result in false positives to our detection system. We’ve also heard concerns from people about privacy and to which extent we go to look for client modification.

From our perspective, it makes no sense to ban people for the use of programs that don’t give them an in-game benefit in the same way that bots and other modifications to the game do. Our detection methods work on the principle of looking for known signatures of these malicious programs that enable this. We do not at this time extend beyond our own process. We only care about what is going on in the EVE process at the time of execution at this stage. Here’s what our EULA covers in this regard:

7.D. MONITORING

You agree that CCP may remotely monitor your Game hardware solely for the purpose of establishing whether in playing the Game and accessing the System you are using software created or approved by CCP, or whether you are using unauthorized software created by you or a third party in contravention of Section 6.

It should be clear to everybody that we have no interest in banning people who do not do anything bad in New Eden. How can you know for sure though? Unfortunately, I’m afraid you’re going to have to take my word on it, but I think it should be pretty obvious that we’re not gonna ban people that are not doing bad things. Here’s what the EULA considers bad in 6.A:

2. You may not use your own or third-party software to modify any content appearing within the Game environment or change how the Game is played.

3. You may not use your own or any third-party software, macros or other stored rapid keystrokes or other patterns of play that facilitate acquisition of items, currency, objects, character attributes, rank or status at an accelerated rate when compared with ordinary Game play. You may not rewrite or modify the user interface or otherwise manipulate data in any way to acquire items, currency, objects, character attributes or beneficial actions not actually acquired or achieved in the Game.

As well as 9.C:

You may not reverse engineer, disassemble or decompile, or attempt to reverse engineer or derive source code from, all or any portion of the Software, or from any information accessible through the System (including, without limitation, data packets transmitted to and from the System over the Internet), or anything incorporated therein, or analyze, decipher, "sniff" or derive code (or attempt to do any of the foregoing) from any packet stream transmitted to or from the System, whether encrypted or not, or permit any third party to do any of the same, and you hereby expressly waive any legal rights you may have to do so. If the Software and/or the System contains license management technology, you may not circumvent or disable that technology.

This extends to multiboxing software. Some of the multiboxing software out there is powerful enough to count as “client modification” if used for that purpose. Our stance on third-party software is that we do not endorse such software as we have no control over what it does. As such, we can’t say that multiboxing software isn’t against our EULA. But the same goes in this case, that unless we determine that people are doing things beyond “multiboxing”, we will not be taking any action. We only care about the instances where people are messing with our process for the purposes of cheating, and running multiple clients at the same time is not in violation of our EULA in and of itself unless it involves trial accounts.

General policy update

In extension to the above, we’ve taken steps to address concerns about our policy on different subjects that may not have been completely clear in the past due to contradicting messaging. We’ve created a page that addresses different concerns you may have about third-party programs. You can find it here:

http://community.eveonline.com/support/policies/third-party-policies/

We will add to this as appropriate. But for now, hopefully this dev blog clarifies things a bit more.

 

Update:

We have been receiving a lot of feedback about our statement on cache scraping. Please see the following forum post for further details:

https://forums.eveonline.com/default.aspx?g=posts&m=2900665#post2900665

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