Role-Playing Gamemaker Wins $3.5M in Damages | Courthouse News Service
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Role-Playing Gamemaker Wins $3.5M in Damages

(CN) - The copyright owner of online role-playing game MapleStory can collect $3.5 million, but not the requested $45 million, from competitors who gave unauthorized access to an illegal version of the game, a federal judge ruled.

"The plaintiff is not entitled to a windfall," U.S. District Judge Otis Wright II said, entering an order for default judgment Tuesday.

MapleStory creator Nexon America had sued Gurvinder Kumar and Jessica Kaplan after they created a network called UMaple that allowed users to play the MapleStory game without Nexon's consent.

Kumar and Kaplan allegedly pilfered Nexon's profits by accepting donations to enhance his version of the game, money they would have otherwise spent at MapleStory's legitimate virtual goods store.

While Wright found the defendants' failure to respond to the claims inexcusable, he rejected Nexon's claim to about $45 million in damages and attorneys' fees.

Nexon cited several cases to support its claim for maximum damages under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, but Wright said those cases applied the minimum statutory damages available.

"While these observations do not bear directly on the amount of damages to which plaintiff is entitled as a result of defendants' default in this action, they do cause the court to question very seriously whether plaintiff intended to actively mislead the court or whether these oversights were merely the result of poor legal research," he wrote. "And while plaintiff cites several DMCA cases awarding statutory damages awards in the steep millions that arguably inure excessively to those plaintiffs' benefit, each of those cases applied the minimum statutory award those courts were permitted to apply."

"The court would deem even the minimum statutory amount awardable under the DMCA in this case to be a significant windfall to plaintiff far in excess of any amount necessary to deter future infringing conduct," Wright added. "Further, the minimum award here likely bears little plausible relationship to plaintiff's actual damages. "

Wright concluded, "Nevertheless, the court is powerless the deviate from the DMCA's statutory minimum and therefore awards plaintiff $3,587,600.00."

Kumar owes Nexon $398 in profits made from Google advertisements.

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