When you ask the question; Who owns Dota 2? you’ll probably hear the answer; Valve. That is likely the case but it isn’t official until a federal court says so.
The reason a court has to decide is due to two mobile developers, Lilith Games and uCool, being sued by Valve when they made clones for mobile platforms. Their games, Dota Legends and Heroes Charge respectively are available in China and have proven popular. When Valve made a copyright claim against them, uCool argued that Valve didn’t own the source material that the game is based on and therefore can’t be claimed under copyright.
To understand what they are talking about, we need to go back in the history of Dota. Like a number of popular Valve games, they originated in the world of mods for other games. Team Fortress starting as a mod for the original Quake, followed by the Team Fortress Classic mod for Half-Life, and Dota originally being a mod for Warcraft 3.
uCool referenced a forum post from 2004 by the mod creator, Eul. In it, they reference life requirement and the imminent launch of Halo 2 as reasons why they could not continue working on the mod. They then “released” the mod to the public as an open source project. The lore and characters became fair game for anyone to use.
As some of you have probably figured out, I really don’t have the time for this map anymore. I tried to make time to work on it, but I just can’t anymore.
To be completely honest, I planned from the start to release 4.0 as Second Anniversary Edition in late November, but now that school has started and I’m working again, I haven’t found a way to complete the map, so the work suffered. Also, I somehow didn’t make the connection that HALO 2 is released before the Anniversary.. and I’m sorry, but I’ve been waiting years for HALO 2, so I know it will be impossible for me to work on the map once its released.
I wish I could give you a last map that’s playable, but I can’t. Instead, from this point forward DOTA is now open source. Whoever wishes to release a version of DOTA may without my consent, I just ask for a nod in the credits to your map.
I can’t say its always been fun, but sometimes it has. You probably won’t be seeing me much anymore guys, but I might come back now and then if you make a HALO 2 board.. see you on AIM and Xbox Live.
In a court order, Judge Charles Breyer denied uCool’s motion for a summary dismissal of Valve’s suet after deciding that the question of “abandonment” would be reasonable for a jury to pursue given the overall vagueness of Eul’s statement and the context surrounding it. Based on this, it was decided that the case would move forward.
Breyer did also dig into whether Blizzard’s own EULA meant that Eul never had any rights to the mod in the first place since it was based on their game, Warcraft III.
The EULAs did, however, make clear that players could not â€˜use or allow third parties to use the [World Editor or mods] created thereby for commercial purposes including, but not limited to, distribution of [mods] on a stand-alone basis or packaged with other software or hardware through any and all distribution channels, including, but not limited to, retail sales and on-line electronic distribution without the express written consent of Blizzard. Id. ¶ 3.C.iii. Mods were for play, not pay.
Of course, this part of the EULA prevents you from selling mods, something which Eul didn’t do but rather made their mod available to all without payment. Whether this will sway the decision as the case goes before a jury isn’t known. It also poses the questions, if that is the case does it mean that Blizzard owns Dota? If they do, will they be next in line to take Valve to court over the MOBA?
So now it will go to the jury who will decide whether Valve owns the rights to Dota and based on that, whether uCool and Lilith Games violated those rights with their mobile titles.