Is Epic Taking It Too Far By Suing A 14-Year Old Cheater?

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Epic Games, the developer of the popular shooter video game Fortnite, filed a lawsuit against some of its players who were discovered to be cheating in the game. The video game developer claims that the cheaters, targeted in separate lawsuits, violated the company’s terms of use contract and federal copyright law. The cheat codes that the players used in Fortnite, infuses unauthorized computer code into the game. It gives the users an advantage against others as they are given the ability to impersonate other players, and see through solid walls and objects among others.  

On Oct 10, Epic Games started to issue two lawsuits against Brandon Boom and Charles Vraspir, both were associated with the subscription-based cheating websites where the cheats originated. Epic’s reason for the lawsuit is that the creation of the cheats violated the Digital Millennium Copyright Act as the cheats leveraged Epic’s intellectual property. Public court documents showed that both lawsuits will be proceeding in U.S. district courts and could result in fines of up to $150,000 per incident, per case. 

However, Epic Games did not stop there and started to go after the players who used the cheat as well. This resulted to Epic Games receiving tremendous backlash when it was revealed that one of the players they’re after is a minor who is only 14 years old. This instigated a debate as to whether Epic Games is doing the right thing by punishing these cheaters or if Epic is becoming too aggressive with the lawsuit against the cheaters, and instead should just focus on going after the people creating these cheats in the first place. Epic mentioned that they have banned the players multiple times in the past but the players would just create a new account every time they got kicked out and continued to use the cheat in-game. 

The 14-year old’s mom was quick to defend his son as she wrote a letter asking the judge to dismiss the suit filed by Epic Games (You can read the full letter here via Kotaku). In her letter she mentioned that the case is based on profit loss, however the game is free-to-play, and Epic must prove that her son’s cheating directly caused a profit loss. She also argued that her son can’t be sued for violating the game’s terms and conditions because he is a minor and cannot enter a contract without parental consent and that she never gave this consent. GameTyrant tried to reach the players being sued but received no reply. However, the 14-year old identified as Caleb “Sky Orbit” Rogers, posted a video in his YouTube channel speaking out against Epic’s “unfair treatment”. Check out the video below:

We reached out to Epic Games for a comment regarding the case and received this statement from a representative: 

“This particular lawsuit arose as a result of the defendant filing a DMCA counterclaim to a takedown notice on a YouTube video that exposed and promoted Fortnite Battle Royal cheats and exploits. Under these circumstances, the law requires that we file suit or drop the claim.” Furthermore, they stated that “Epic is not okay with ongoing cheating or copyright infringement from anyone at any age. As stated previously, we take cheating seriously, and we’ll pursue all available options to make sure our games are fun, fair, and competitive for players.”

I tried to ask whether Epic Games is aware that one of the defendants is a minor when they filed the charges, but they declined to comment. I also tried to ask on what Epic is expecting to come out of filing a lawsuit against its players but the spokesperson said that they are not at liberty to release any more information for the time being. 

What are your thoughts in the case? Is Epic taking it too far by making an example of these cheaters? Or do the cheaters deserve to be sued for making the game less competitive and fair for all players?