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Offline Kolby

Are private servers illegal?
« on: Jun 04, 2013, 07:46 AM »
Hi guys are private servers illegal? If so, why are there so many private servers around the world that still hasn't been closed down? I didn't realize it was illegal until I was like 13 and start to pay more attention to pirated movies and games. It really gets me confused sometimes, I just wanna know are private servers legit or not?
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Offline yC

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #1 on: Jun 04, 2013, 07:57 AM »
This has been discussed many times already.  In summary, you will not get one definite answer to your question.

The general idea, if nothing changed over the years, based on one big thread I read from eAthena:

- Private server, the emulator (the code, the script) is developed by volunteers of the various open source projects.  It is under the "GNU General Public License 3", it does not violate the copyright of the original developer of the game as far as I know.

- However, to connect to the emulated RO server, a user must first download the RO client (maps, sprites, exe) from the original developer.  Then the owner of the emulator need to hex the exe and provide the exe to make a user able to connect to the emulated RO server.  This is where the "illegal" is.

Someone can give a better answer, does it make a different to you if it's legal or illegal?

Offline Yukino

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Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #2 on: Jun 04, 2013, 10:04 AM »
In other words, if you are hosting a server to allow others or yourself to play, it is illegal since you would need to modify the client in order to log into your server XD.
If you are strictly just editing scripts, etc without going in-game to test it (without using a client to access your server), you should be fine [though it's hard to tell if you coded stuff right or not without going on the server :P].

Not many private servers are shut down because they don't earn as much from donations, aren't as large, etc. Gravity doesn't want to spend the money, effort, or time to close down hundreds of servers that can easily pop up like the weeds. There have been cases where other game companies such as Blizzard closing down very large private servers, charging the owners millions of dollars as they have earned millions from private server donations.

But if you are worried, as a player, you don't really have to be - the Owners are the ones who face penalties. But, Gravity will most likely never act.
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Offline Playtester

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #3 on: Jun 04, 2013, 10:12 AM »
Hardly any country has laws about stealing source code anyway. It's totally legal in most countries.

What however is protected by copyright are pictures, sounds and trademark names. As all the protected stuff is inside the client, the server itself can hardly be called illegal.

But anything that concerns the client and modifying the client as well as connecting the client to a private server, is a pretty grey area and probably illegal in several ways depending on country.

It's often hard to proof for Gravity that an offense was done however. Server owner could just link to external websites offering the client and say they only host the server but offer no means to connect to it.

I found this even more interesting with Aion private server, where the at the biggest private server website before you could even access the content of the website you had to agree on a consent that basically says that you do not connect with the server which is pretty lol. That way the server owners are completely safe and the blame is pushed to the players (which are not worth being sued).

Offline Forbiddenz

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #4 on: Jun 04, 2013, 02:23 PM »
I have never known Gravity taken action on closing private server as this far (which is about 3 years since i've begun jumping into the world of PS RO)

But I do know, in Indonesia... the publisher of Ragnarok (Lyto) in Indonesia took action against a private server for one of their games (RF Online)
However, i have again never seen them taking action against even the biggest & most populated server in Indonesia.

Conclusion:
It appears to me that Gravity & Other Publisher of RO have given up on stopping Ragnarok Private Server from spawning.

Offline Kolby

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #5 on: Jun 05, 2013, 04:52 AM »

Someone can give a better answer, does it make a different to you if it's legal or illegal?
Yes it does, I do not want to be donating to a server that is thought to be illegal because I shouldn't do that it's sorta supporting piracy. Mind you, I do play on private servers, but I've never thought that if a server is illegal that means I'm would be illegal spending money to support something illegal.

In conclusion, judging from the posts private servers are illegal but Gravity gave up to close the servers down am I right? Thanks for replying guys
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Offline Meta

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #6 on: Jun 05, 2013, 10:29 AM »
I'm not sure how people get the idea that Athena-based servers are legal. They copy NPC dialog line-for-line.

Offline Novus Orbis

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #7 on: Jun 05, 2013, 12:31 PM »
I think that TVtropes can help us with this one.... http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/VideoGame/RagnarokOnline?from=Main.Ragnarokonline


"Also of note is Ragnarok Online's rather colourful history, markedly moreso than most Massively Multiplayer games and definitely remarkable given the game's general success despite the various tribulations. At the end of its original closed beta period, a group of hackers, apparently angered by the game moving into a pay to play format, attacked the servers, not only of the game but Gravity as well, destroying everything, setting RO's development back, and causing it to disappear from the radar for a long time before finally resurfacing. A lot of anger can be seen under the community at this, at times, as not only did it enable the private servers to come about by stealing a copy of the basic Aegis architecture at the core of the game, but caused many features, such as player owned apartments, to be dropped from the final release. Not to mention a near disastrous case of Executive Meddling by Samsung after they saved Gravity from total bankruptcy (though Samsung saw how horrible things were going because of the meddling, and backed off just in time)"

And,

"Some private servers run the semi-legal eAthena core architecture, which is a Ragnarok Online server emulator. Others run on a pirated version of Gravity's Aegis core. The first is legal right up until servers start putting copyrighted media (the rest of the game) on it, the other is entirely illegal."
/ene

Offline Meta

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #8 on: Jun 05, 2013, 01:47 PM »
I'm not sure what you're trying to say with that. NPC dialog is protected by copyright, so *Athena servers are illegal from the outset unless they come up with 100% original NPCs. Much of the dialog is bad, but that doesn't mean it's not protected, unless you're in a country that doesn't have automatic copyright.

And this is the source for the thing on TVTropes, which has more detail: http://adultimum.net/rw/extras.php?section=soappserv

Offline yC

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #9 on: Jun 05, 2013, 04:00 PM »
I think the developers on our sides do have some contribution to the overall development of RO.  We can't deny the number of "coincidences" where officially released sprites (mostly headgears) look ultra similar to custom sprites we have seen on private servers.  I am trying to think of an example for a feature from pserver that got implemented into official, there could be some.

Offline Triper

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #10 on: Jun 05, 2013, 04:29 PM »
Oh, there are tons of features from pservers that they added to the officials[some were improved, I must say]:

- custom xmas prontera
- nightmare maps[they were called hardcore mode? I remember to see them in some high rates]
- the bg queue feature
- bank[lol, I can't believe they only added this now]
- edited+stolen sprite headgears *cough* fro *cough*
- nerfs to some skills based on "balances" from some servers
- thematic events based on what is done at pservers
etc

I would say that each one balance each other. Tons of stuff done at pservers "give" them ideas to add stuff to officials.

Offline Thoth

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #11 on: Jun 08, 2013, 02:14 AM »
I recall some europe official RO server trying to close someone down. however, the licenses they had from gravity did not apply to the country the server was hosted in, and they had no choice but to back down.
its quite similiar to the subtitling and distribution of anime outside of japan- its legal to do it (?not for profit?) in whatever country until someone buys the license for that country. if a company has the licenses only for canada and usa, but not mexico, they cannot take any legal action against anyone in mexico. it is illegal for them to try. quite often, these homegrown operations end up making a product popular enough to profit in whichever country it was previously unlicensed in.

Offline RagnarokSaga

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #12 on: Jun 11, 2013, 11:52 AM »
Recent close down on PhoenixRO Server is a living proof that RO License holder in Thailand is still active...
This is a very good example for us all...

NEVER-EVER host your RO within the region where most of your player came from...
Pick the neighboring country perhaps..
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Offline Yukino

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Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #13 on: Jun 11, 2013, 01:21 PM »
I do not know too much about the details regarding RO licenses, but I'm just wondering how it is in the Canada, and the US (separately, if they are). Does anyone know the specifics? [In terms of activity or any recent events]

What about other countries?

And at least we know that the license holders in Thailand and Europe (Specific country?) are active XD.
« Last Edit: Jun 11, 2013, 01:27 PM by Yukino »
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Offline yC

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #14 on: Jun 11, 2013, 09:58 PM »
Haha I don't think Canada will ever get its own local official server.  Very safe isn't it?  Just that Canada is too friendly to the US that they might think their US copyright apply to Canada too.  But Canada / US / UK etc do respect the DMCA stuff.

Offline Veruno

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #15 on: Jun 22, 2013, 03:20 PM »
Well, the companies that own the games think private servers are illegal. Here is an actual lawsuit filed against a WoW private server by Blizzard: http://www.scribd.com/doc/149378603/Blizzard-v-Allison-Reeves

Lucky for us, Gravity has never cared much about Ragnarok private servers.

Offline Woon

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #16 on: Jun 23, 2013, 08:36 AM »
Blizzard and gravity are worlds apart.
I recall some europe official RO server trying to close someone down. however, the licenses they had from gravity did not apply to the country the server was hosted in, and they had no choice but to back down.
its quite similiar to the subtitling and distribution of anime outside of japan- its legal to do it (?not for profit?) in whatever country until someone buys the license for that country. if a company has the licenses only for canada and usa, but not mexico, they cannot take any legal action against anyone in mexico. it is illegal for them to try. quite often, these homegrown operations end up making a product popular enough to profit in whichever country it was previously unlicensed in.
Stupid French official server...

Offline Thoth

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #17 on: Jun 25, 2013, 02:07 AM »
we should totally create a ragnarok server licensing map. so people know where the "danger" zones are? someone might buy a license for a country if you make it too popular, but then you just move and host your server in a nearby country?

Offline Boreas

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #18 on: Jul 07, 2013, 03:32 AM »
we should totally create a ragnarok server licensing map. so people know where the "danger" zones are? someone might buy a license for a country if you make it too popular, but then you just move and host your server in a nearby country?

The "danger zones" are only those countries which have very strict copyright laws. Most servers are hosted in the US and you'd think that Gravity would do something over there, yet they don't.

Offline hoykarin

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #19 on: Jul 09, 2013, 04:25 AM »
I can't believe someone is still in between thoughts whether a pserver is legal or not. I mean, Ro was really made to be free-for-all in a sense everybody should take a sip at this games kool-aid. heuheu

Offline Thoth

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #20 on: Jul 14, 2013, 04:52 PM »
well, when you think about what it would take to finish up the open source version of the RO client and fix stuff, you figure you just might as well make your own game. I mean, who wants to deal with all the complications of fixing RO client for your own server when you could be sued by gravity whenever? instead of ripping off existing companies, one day there will be an open source MMO model for private servers and content...

Offline yC

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #21 on: Jul 15, 2013, 10:38 AM »
Thoth, aren't we more than half way there?  There's graphic available, working server side and usable client side.  Most people running an RO server today wouldn't be running one if not for all the convenience, they are not interested in fixing or creating anything new I assume.

Offline Thoth

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #22 on: Jul 15, 2013, 09:42 PM »
you may be right in a way, but gravity has claim to the main bulk of graphics files in RO, yes? what would you replace all of that with?  /wah

Offline Jenova

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #23 on: Jul 15, 2013, 10:29 PM »
Yes, 99.999% of pservers are illegal; They modify and redistribute Gravity's copyrighted files, including the client, music, sprites, etc. The server (eAthena/rAthena or whatever) are completely legal, however.

Offline Playtester

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #24 on: Jul 17, 2013, 03:49 AM »
And the remaining 0.001% is called The Mana World. =p

http://themanaworld.org/about.php

Based on eAthena, all graphics, maps and names are 100% self made.

Buuut... it's not really RO if you don't steal anything from it.

Offline Meta

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #25 on: Jul 17, 2013, 08:07 AM »
Yes, 99.999% of pservers are illegal; They modify and redistribute Gravity's copyrighted files, including the client, music, sprites, etc. The server (eAthena/rAthena or whatever) are completely legal, however.

Except for the NPCs.

Offline Playtester

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #26 on: Jul 17, 2013, 09:14 AM »
Only trademarked ones are actually protected. You can actually steal NPCs from other games totally legally, but it's gets harder when you steal something like Chocobo and Mog.

I think "Kafra" and "Poring" is trademarked.

Offline Meta

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #27 on: Jul 17, 2013, 09:16 AM »
Only trademarked ones are actually protected. You can actually steal NPCs from other games totally legally, but it's gets harder when you steal something like Chocobo and Mog.

I think "Kafra" and "Poring" is trademarked.

The NPC dialog text is automatically copyrighted (with less protection than a registered copyright in some countries) upon publication in most countries where RO is available. Gravity may have registered copyrights on the materials in the game in countries where that's not the case.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Berne_Convention_for_the_Protection_of_Literary_and_Artistic_Works

Offline Playtester

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #28 on: Jul 19, 2013, 09:27 AM »
I'm not sure if you can count NPC dialogues as litarary or artistic work, though. I know books are protected through that, but dialogue in a game... I dunno.

Offline Meta

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #29 on: Jul 19, 2013, 09:52 AM »
It's similar to saving a streamed movie from Netflix and uploading it to YouTube. I think the MPAA would have a strong case there.

Offline Thoth

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #30 on: Jul 27, 2013, 06:41 AM »
NPC dialogs are alot more boring and easy to replace than NPC sprites... well, I certainly feel that way, not much of a graphics person

Offline Lassander

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #31 on: Sep 27, 2013, 03:09 AM »
My understanding is that the server code itself is legal, the eAthena wikipedia page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EAthena somewhat explains it.

Offline Ein

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #32 on: Oct 02, 2013, 07:26 AM »
Private Servers are illegal, since you need to connect to the server using a hacked client. However, it has been long argued (which means it's still not clear) that running the emulator (such as eAthena) is perfectly legal.
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Offline lilsword

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #33 on: Nov 05, 2013, 11:47 PM »
It is illegal because you're using a client with copyright, but there are like 76312897461278361 servers out there. Gravity wont waste their time filing a case for every server.

Offline HarmsWay

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #34 on: Jan 21, 2014, 08:35 PM »
eAthena servers are not Illegal!
rAthena servers are not Illegal!

You are allowed to own a copy of ragnarok since it's a free download.
You are allowed to modify anything in that folder, if it's intended for personal use only.

So, what exactly is illegal?
The act of modifying the client.exe file and sharing it online.
This is the only ILLEGAL part in a private server.

Now, anyone can download a hexed client.exe and use it for his or hers personal whatever.
Hence a private server can only be shut down, if they ask money to let you connect to the server.

The only person who's actively breaking the law, is the person who hexes the client.exe and shares it.

Offline Zhin

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #35 on: Jan 26, 2014, 11:52 PM »
Our server once got a notice from Gravity, if I remember correctly, asking for it to be shut down.  Basically, all we did was ignore it, and nothing came of it again. :P  Pretty much the most you'll ever encounter is someone trying to scare you into shutting down, if anything at all, and I think that'd only happen if you get popular enough.  /heh

I'd be more worried about using official artwork for things like graphics and stuff than having them shut you down for pirating the game hah!


Offline Razer

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #36 on: Jan 27, 2014, 02:15 AM »
Running a P Server is Illegal. Its akin to installing bootlegged software (pirate bay). Gravity does send out Cease and Desist Letters to servers owners (according to 2 server owners I have known) but Gravity finds it very hard to use litigation against each and every one of them. The costs of litigation would be too high and most server owners are not rich enough to provide good compensations from won lawsuits. Winning 10,000 USD from a Server owner will be much lesser than the costs Gravity put in the lawyers and time. Add to that the fact that most servers are located in countries with slow legal systems that could take weeks, months or even years before the case even reaches to court.

As a result Gravity does not pursue legal actions against such people.  This still doesnt change the fact that they are illegal.

Offline dahman

Re: Are private servers illegal?
« Reply #37 on: Feb 06, 2014, 07:05 PM »
well the last server i played went down duo gravity :(

http://forum.ratemyserver.net/server-reviews/oldschoolro-the-pre-trans-experience!/msg167704/#msg167704

maybe that was also "boosted" duo the server was hosted in Germany
(bad laws for pserver owners xD)