Baby Murloc's Voice Wants Piece of the Action


     SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - A former "game master" for Blizzard Entertainment claims she invented the voice and song of baby murlocs, which "have become the de facto mascot of the billion-dollar enterprise ... World of Warcraft" but Blizzard won't pay her a dime for it.
     Amanda Lewis sued Activision Blizzard and Blizzard Entertainment in Federal Court, alleging copyright infringement and misappropriation of her voice.
     Game master is a customer-service position, Lewis says, in which she helped "World of Warcraft" players who had "in-game issues, such as abusive language or players becoming 'stuck,' or unable to move, in the game."
     While working at Blizzard, Lewis says, she received an email requesting voices for "World of Warcraft" creatures. She say she "had previously developed a voice, on her own time and through her own creative efforts, [which] she thought would be appropriate for WoW and offered to demonstrate it."
     The complaint continues: "The appealing style and original content of Amanda's vocal work was recognized by Blizzard, which used Amanda's voice and an original song she developed to give life and personality to creatures known as baby murlocs. Murlocs are a type of aquatic humanoid creature common in WoW, and baby murlocs are a friendly and appealing version of murlocs that appear in various quests and are available as special player-owned 'pets.'
     "Providing creative content for WoW was not part of Ms. Lewis' duties as a customer service representative, and Ms. Lewis did not assign any copyright in her music and vocal work to Blizzard."
     Lewis says her voice and the baby murloc song have become an important part of "World of Warcraft."
     She claims that at BlizzCon, Blizzard's annual convention for gamers, the company has handed out baby murlocs, and that "In addition to their inherent appeal, such pets are status symbols and can be quite valuable on the secondary market for WoW items and characters."
     What's more, she says, the company profits by selling baby murloc plush toys in its online store.
     "In short, due in significant part to the appeal of Ms. Lewis' creative and vocal work, baby murlocs have become the de facto mascot of the billion-dollar enterprise that is WoW."
     She claims she has filed copyright applications "with regard to baby murloc vocal expressions and the baby murloc song ... which have been incorporated into WoW without Amanda's permission."
     She seeks disgorgement, quantum meruit, and damages for copyright infringement and misappropriation of her voice.
     She is represented by Alan Engle, with Meador & Engle, of Anaheim Hills.