Evony And Its Lawyers Rely Upon, Act Like Boobs

Law

I previously griped about the ubiquitous and obnoxious advertising by the web browser game Evony, which relies upon depictions of chilly women with incipient back problems to lure adolescents of all ages. Now, I am in general a staunch supporter of boobage, in the proper context. But Evony's boob-based advertising campaign is gratuitous to the level of self-parody. Moreover, as I complained before, Evony conducted — or empowered its hangers-on to conduct — massive blog comment spam promoting itself.

I am by no stretch of the imagination the only one who has complained. Among the loudest voices has been Bruce Everiss of Bruce on Games, who has commented extensively on Evony, and has asserted, among other things, that Evony's developers and promoters are associated with goldfarmers (for the uninitiated, goldfarmers sell the pretend currency of online games for real-world money to players, and in using bots or third-world workers to gather said currency in the games tend to ruin the games' pretend economies and the gaming experience), that Evony rips off the intellectual property of various game developers, that Evony uses various crass and deceitful methods to manipulate its players, and that Evony's advertising methods are highly obnoxious. You can find links to some of Bruce's articles at the end of this post. I haven't investigated most of those assertions myself, other than the advertising and spamming issue I have specifically addressed; you'll have to evaluate Bruce's proof yourself.

Now, the modern world being what it is, Evony has enlisted Australian lawyers to threaten Bruce.

Evony's lawyer, Dean Groundwater of Warren, McKeon Dickson, threatens to sue Bruce for defamation in court in New South Wales, and demands that Bruce identify everyone associated with his blog, pay unspecified damages, remove all criticism, and apologize. Bruce has so far refused to do so, and I sincerely hope that he shall continue. (Bruce has posted the entire threatening lawyer letter; I have taken the liberty of copying it, and will post it here in the unlikely event that Evony's thuggish minions succeed in persuading him to take it down.)

Personally, I was unaware that the semi-reformed convicts of the great nation of Australia had developed even a rudimentary legal system. I suppose I presumed they resolved their tribal differences with some sort of dingo, beer, and didgeridoo-related feats of skill or bravery. Certainly nothing in our past examinations of their society has suggested that they have developed rudimentary legal and social norms like the right to freedom of expression. This bodes well for Evony and its lawyers in their thuggish attempts to suppress criticism, and poorly for critics like Bruce.

In a nation that apparently permits litigants to effect service via Facebook messages, I have little confidence that Bruce's rights and interests will be protected in New South Wales. Bruce lives in the UK. Does the UK allow easy perfection of foreign defamation judgments? I have no idea, but given England's utterly abysmal failure to protect free speech norms against frivolous and manipulative defamation actions, I suspect Evony might be able to get a judgment in New South Wales and use it to harass Bruce in Ole Blighty.

Fortunately for Bruce, and for freedom of expression in general, Evony and its lawyers are about to encounter the Streissand Effect — the principle that in the internet age any effort to censor information through legal threats has the inevitable effect of wider and more vigorous publication of that information. That effect is one of our favorite things to cover here, and the posts in which we have covered (or been subject to) censorious legal threats have been some of the most highly-trafficked posts on Popehat.

A quick Google search reveals that Evony's reputation is already in the shitter. (In most legal systems — even ones run by dingoes — that means that it would be extraordinarily difficult to prove that Bruce damaged Evony's reputation. It's like if I unfairly bad-mouthed a convicted child molester or something.) Evony's attempt to muscle critics is going to make its already bad repuation much worse and much more widely known. One wonders whether Mr. Groundwater is (a) too ignorant of internet culture to realize this, or (b) lacks the client control to persuade Evony to avoid such a self-defeating course of action.

Gamers and bloggers who care about freedom of expression — and who dislike scummy game companies threatening critics — can participate in this process by posting on blogs and forums about Evony's threats. Cry havoc, and let slip the blogs of war.

Edit: I see that Patrick and I posted nearly simultaneously on the same issue. Well, it's worth the attention. And his is funnier.

Last 5 posts by Ken White

19 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Peter  •  Aug 25, 2009 @9:48 am

    Thanks for the small minded, racist bullshit about Australia you moron.

  2. Patrick  •  Aug 25, 2009 @9:51 am

    Australians are a race?

  3. Ken  •  Aug 25, 2009 @9:55 am

    I treat Australians with the same deep respect that I reserve for the British, Americans, French, and the inhabitants of any other nation.

  4. Charles  •  Aug 25, 2009 @10:18 am

    Also, Americans.

  5. Jag  •  Aug 25, 2009 @11:42 am

    Notice he didn't say Canadians

  6. Hotnoob  •  Aug 25, 2009 @12:03 pm

    No, it's Not like BOOBS, cause boobs r great!
    It's more like DICKS…

    naww, girls wouldnt like that..
    ud have to go with… jack-ass'

    or donkeys :P

  7. Ken  •  Aug 25, 2009 @3:55 pm

    By the way, in Bruce's favor, here is rather startling proof that at least one version of Evony rather blatantly stole content from Civilization 4. (The same link shows that a later version used new text that is simply incoherent rather than stolen.)

  8. Bruce  •  Aug 25, 2009 @5:04 pm

    C'mon Peter. It's true. Our legal system is pathetic – especially when it comes to stuff invented in the last 30 years. It remains surprisingly good when it comes to sheep and wheat cases though.

    And it seems Mr Groundwater is an expert in Workchoices legislation. Another high point in our legal history.

  9. James  •  Aug 26, 2009 @12:14 am

    Haha, you write like the American system is a blinding white beacon of justice, when it is known to be one of the most flawed in the Western world.

    Sure, our defamation laws are archaic, but PATRIOT Act anyone?

  10. Patrick  •  Aug 26, 2009 @8:36 am

    James, since you're an expert on comparative common law, do tell us which portions of the USA-PATRIOT Act make the American legal system one of the most flawed in the Western [sic] world? Name specific defendants and prosecutions, please.

  11. captbasch  •  Aug 26, 2009 @9:45 am

    United we stand, United we fight to topple down the Evony empire!
    Also check out my article at http://www.mmogrindhouse.com/game-news/bizarre/evony-com-threats-bloggers-dont-criticise-our-game-or-well-sue/

  12. Bruce  •  Aug 26, 2009 @5:18 pm

    The cited precedent was Dow Jones vs Gutnick where a Melbourne man sued a New Jersey publication for defamation based on a possible 1700 readers of the article in his home state of Victoria. This being the place where his reputation was most on the line.

    This will mean that Evony's case will be based on how defamed they are in NSW which may be trickier than they think. Gutnick succeeded in his case because he actually lived in the place he sued from – Evony clearly does not and it is therefore possible that the case would be rejected as this is not the state where their reputation is most on the line. Unless most of their players come from Sydney.

  13. Ms Random  •  Sep 22, 2009 @4:29 am

    Personally, I was unaware that the semi-reformed convicts of the great nation of Australia had developed even a rudimentary legal system. I suppose I presumed they resolved their tribal differences with some sort of dingo, beer, and didgeridoo-related feats of skill or bravery.

    You know, that was pointlessly offensive, and not even clever. Also it really had nothing to do with the article– it's just gratuitous baiting, isn't it? I honestly can't see any point to it other than to provoke angry responses from Australian readers– presumably so you can then jeer at us further for being "sore".

    If the author is American, then this is really pathetic, given the tendency of US citizens to become hysterically outraged at even implied criticism of their nation.

  14. Ken  •  Sep 22, 2009 @8:17 am

    I'm sorry you were offended, Ms. Random. I thought convicts had more intestinal fortitude. Now your complaint haunts me. I imagine you sitting there, weeping, chin all a-quiver, after someone read you the post and then tried to explain it to you several times and then eventually got frustrated and walked away.

    Whoops, that was jeering, wasn't it?

    The truth is, Ms. Random, that we bash all sorts of countries, states, counties, public officials, companies, and individuals around here. In many cases we bash them because they are acting, individually or collectively, because they are censorious asshats. You won't find a kinder tone, or fewer satirical insults, in any post criticizing Canada for their ludicrous attacks on free speech. You won't find a kinder tone in posts criticizing the legal system or law enforcement or culture in America. Especially Florida. The main difference is that nobody from Florida has showed up all butthurt to whine about it. (Of course, they may not have figured out how.)

    I'm amused by the proposition that, because some Americans are hysterically outraged over criticism of America, I should not criticize other countries, even if my co-bloggers and I routinely criticize America. Your notion seems to be "I've read these two posts, and I imagine in my head that the author is American — though I'm too lazy to read any other posts or follow any of the internal links and confirm that — and I imagine that the author is being inconsistent with his own views on America, which I am too lazy to read." You're not exactly moving me off of my inclination to make fun of Australia there, mate.

  15. Ms Random  •  Sep 22, 2009 @9:06 am

    Ken– as I said in my reply to your other comment: I admit to not knowing much about this site, and I had assumed your intent was more serious than it apparently is. So sorry for jumping to conclusions.

    Okay?

  16. Ms Random  •  Sep 22, 2009 @9:12 am

    Let me explain a bit further, I only clicked on the link to this article because I was curious about the "Evony" business– like everyone else, I've seen those adds all over the place, and I've suspected the game had to be dodgy in some way.

  17. Bruceongames  •  Oct 20, 2009 @7:20 am

    You can help defeat Evony. More details here: http://www.bruceongames.com/2009/10/20/help-defeat-evony/

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