SAN JOSE (CN) – Twitch, Amazon’s live-streaming video game site, sued seven botmakers and their 12 “bot packages,” claiming they distort numbers and deceive Twitch and its subscribers into believing that some games are more popular than they are.
Twitch claims the defendants’ computer fraud may cause it to “lose its carefully developed reputation as the premier service for quality social video game content, the ability to attract and retain users, and the goodwill of the community.”
Lead plaintiff Erik Bouchouev dba Twitch-Buddy.com and four other bot sites lives in the Netherlands. Other defendants live in California, Colorado, Nevada, Germany and Switzerland.
Twitch is a website that allows gamers to establish a broadcast channel on which they play video games and fellow gamers can watch them.
“The best broadcasters are celebrities in the gaming community,” Twitch says in the complaint. “In addition to being excellent gamers, they are engaging and entertaining.”
The gamers also create content, including visuals, and engage with their followers. The more viewers and followers a gamer gets, the more money comes in.
Twitch has developed algorithms to ensure that gamers who gain popularity and viewers are more visible to those browsing on the site.
Twitch claims the bot manufacturers create automated systems that inflate the number of viewers and followers of a given broadcast channel, in violation of Twitch’s terms of service.
“Defendants deliberately exploit Twitch users for their own commercial gain, harming both those users and the Twitch community at large,” the complaint states.
Defendants include Erik Bouchouev dba Twitch-Buddy.com, Twitch-Viewerbot.com, Twitchviewerbot.net, streambot.com and blackdesertbot.com; Justin Johnston dba Twitchstarter.com, and twitchstarter.tv; Michael and Katherine Anjomi dba UpitPromo; Pooria Sharaffodin dba Babatools.com and streamviewers.com; Marco Pelagatti dba Twitchswiss.com; and Alex Renfrow dba Streamhomies.com.
All the defendants are sued as individuals and in their business capacities.
The sites charge escalating fees, depending on how many bogus followers the bots generate, Twitch says. For instance: “Defendants Michael and Katherine Anjomi sell packages that range from $26.99 per week for 100 viewers to $759.99 for 20,000 viewers.
Defendants’ offerings, described in more detail below, are accompanied by fake follower and fake chat activity designed to make the fake viewership mimic real user behavior.”
Twitch seeks an accounting, delivery or destruction of source code, cancellation of domain names, an order prohibiting payment processing companies from doing business with the defendants, restitution, and damages for cybersquatting, trademark infringement, unfair competition, computer fraud, breach of contract, tortious interference and other charges.
The defendants’ email addresses are not listed on their sites and their owners could not be reached for comment. Twitch did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.
Twitch says its site has 1.7 million unique broadcasters per month and more than 1 million unique views per month. It claims 12,000 people enrolled in its Twitch Partner Program, 106 minutes of footage watched per person per day and 2 million peak concurrent statewide viewers, according to its website.
It is represented by Judith Jemmison with Perkins Coie in Seattle.
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