A lawsuit filed at a California court named four defendants as suspected operators with an additional 50 ‘Doe’ defendants to be unmasked as the case progressed.
Six causes of action including copyright infringement, trafficking in circumvention devices contrary to the DMCA, trademark violations, and unfair competition, encouraged three defendants to settle with Bungie. However, with Ring-1 still in business, more work lay ahead.
New Lawsuit, New Determination
Filed at a Washington court early August 2023, a new complaint alleging copyright infringement, breaches of the DMCA, and civil RICO violations, among others, targeted up to 50 developers, marketers, customer support staff, and sellers of Destiny 2 cheating software offered by Ring-1.
According to the complaint, Bungie’s investigative work had already identified several defendants by name, while others were known only by their online handles. During September and October, identified defendants were served in West Virginia, Delaware, and Ontario, Canada, but in order to identify and serve more, on October 27, Bungie requested assistance from the court.
“Like the cheat itself, the Enterprise is sophisticated and its members go to great lengths to conceal their identities,” Bungie’s motion for expedited discovery explained.
“Many Defendants do not provide any contact information such as a physical address, email address, or phone number, and conduct their transactions entirely pseudonymously. Defendants also use privacy protection services to hide their names and contact information from the public domain name WHOIS database.”
Third Parties Likely to Hold Identifying Information
While those personal details had proven evasive up to that point, Bungie informed the court that it had been able to identify several third parties with past, current, or ongoing relationships with those it hoped to identify. Those parties, Bungie said, were likely to have records “uniquely attributable” to the unidentified defendants, and these would either directly or indirectly allow Bungie to identify and then serve its targets.
In respect of the Ring-1 website, Bungie named Nice IT Services Company (host), Digital Ocean (payment-related subdomains), and Telegram (support) as service providers that allow it to operate.
In connection with six alleged operators of Ring-1 (“Hastings,” “Khaleesi,” “Cypher,” “god,” “C52YOU,” and “Lelabowers74”), Bungie identified a further seven third party service providers upon which the Ring-1 operators reportedly rely; Twitch and YouTube (advertising), Streamlabs (enhance revenue, broaden reach) and Steam, where the defendants allegedly play Destiny 2.
Other providers include Yahoo and Live (where Hastings has email accounts), Google (where Khaleesi has a Gmail address), and Discord; according to Bungie, the alleged Ring-1 operators used to chat there before deleting their server in July 2021.
Bungie’s investigations reportedly identified accounts at ISPs connected to Hastings and Khaleesi; the former at Verizon and Comcast in the United States and the latter at Virgin Media and Sky Broadband in the UK. Five Ring-1 resellers identified by Bungie operated various services including Discord servers, websites, plus Twitter and YouTube accounts.
As a result, these third parties plus domain registrars Squarespace and GoDaddy, and e-commerce platform Sellix, are likely to hold identifying information, Bungie informed the court (sample of proposed order below).
Order Granted in Part, Denied in Part
Having considered Bungie’s rather broad motion, United States Magistrate Judge Michelle L. Peterson handed down her order this Wednesday.
While most of Bungie’s requests were found to be “narrowly tailored” to seek identifying information, requests to serve third-party subpoenas to Cloudflare, Storely, Selly, and “any other third-party Plaintiff identifies to be providing services of any kind to any one or more of the Defendants” were described as unsupported or overbroad.
Even with these denials and especially considering the number of services involved, Bungie’s narrowly tailored request could prove pivotal for the entire case. As such, unless extreme caution was exercised at all times, it will only be a matter of time before Bungie begins serving additional defendants.
From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.