The lawsuit began in August 2021 with the aim of shutting down the ‘Wallhax’ cheat. By June 2022, Bungie had a $13.5 million copyright infringement damages award in hand, and suddenly cooperative defendants helping to unveil others involved in the circumvention of Bungie’s technological protection measures.
Bungie Asks Court For More Time
Earlier this month, Bungie was awarded over $16 million against a single defendant, with claims spanning copyright law, breach of contract, and civil RICO violations.
Just two days later, the court instructed Bungie to voluntarily dismiss all remaining unnamed defendants and any named defendants yet to be served. Bungie followed up with a request for the court to partially reconsider, arguing that progress is still being made in its quest to track the defendants down.
“Bungie continues its efforts to identify the unnamed Doe Defendants, and is actively seeking further information that may allow that identification, but does not have that information yet,” Bungie informed the court.
“Bungie served Eddie Tran, who is the only Named Defendant believed to reside in the United States, on February 28th, 2023,” the videogame company continued, noting that the remainder are believed to reside overseas.
On February 23, Bungie emailed each of the presumed foreign defendants with a request to waive service, with a deadline of April 13 to respond. Hoping that the defendants would eventually respond and in an effort to reduce costs, Bungie said that it didn’t immediately press ahead with service proceedings under the Hague Convention. However, it does have someone working on the case with a track record of success.
Tracking Down Anonymous Cheaters
Kathryn Tewson, a paralegal and investigator at KUSK Law in New York, rose to fame in January after a ferocious teardown of DoNotPay, a company that claims to have developed “The World’s First Robot Lawyer.” DoNotPay says its AI product provides affordable legal representation but according to Tewson, the supposed AI amounts to a document wizard dressed up in Theranos-style marketing.
Being hounded by “the world’s most tenacious paralegal” is also reality for defendants in Bungie cheat lawsuits.
In a declaration filed last week in support of Bungie’s request for more time in the Elite Boss Tech lawsuit, Tewson revealed she was the person who identified Eddie Tran and six other defendants across Europe and China.
“All of the International Defendants operate incognito under assumed names and take other steps to hide their identities and avoid detection. Because of the International Defendants’ intentional efforts to evade identification and detection, it is time-consuming and labor intensive to locate physical addresses for them sufficient to effectuate service,” Tewson informed the court.
Just One Person Answered Bungie’s Emails
One of Bungie’s emailed requests to waive service was sent by Tewson to a defendant named as Marta Magalhaes, aka MindBender, aka Bluegirl. The email contained a copy of the complaint, a reminder about the duty to avoid unnecessary expenses, and a warning that if the waiver wasn’t signed and returned, Bungie would arrange to have the summons and complaint physically served, with Magalhaes potentially picking up the bill.
A response from ‘Bruno Silva’ dated February 24 via a Gmail account said: “sorry i dont know what destiny 2 is, i dont play online games.”
Tewson responded within minutes. “Our apologies. There may have been a mistake. Can you confirm your address?”
As seen in the image below, ‘Bruno Silva’ supplied an address in Bucharest, Romania.
Widely considered the most famous road in the entire country, Calea Victoriei is a major Romanian tourist attraction. The address provided by ‘Bruno Silva’ – Calea Victoriei 118 – is the home of the Romanian Copyright Office (ORDA)
Defendant May Be Trying to Mislead
Tewson believes that the address provided by ‘Bruno Silva’ is probably false.
“Based on information received in settlement and my own investigation, I believe the information provided by defendant Magalhaes / ‘Bruno Silva’ is likely false and that the individual who responded to the email is the proper defendant in this case, and probably resides in Portugal,” Tewson informed the court.
“Bungie has issued a subpoena to Google in an effort to obtain information on Defendant Magalhaes (or Silva) sufficient to effectuate service under Fed. R. Civ. P. 4. The return date for that subpoena is June 15th.”
While it does seem highly unlikely that the defendant lives at the Romanian Copyright Office, email time stamps as they appear in correspondence suggest a time difference more closely aligned with Romania than Portugal, although other details tend to suggest the latter.
Gmail and Privacy
Exactly what information has been requested from Google isn’t unclear but in broad terms, Gmail and Google accounts in general can be a privacy nightmare for the unaware, even in the event Google refuses to hand anything over.
Simply knowing someone’s Gmail address can be the starting point for discovering their activities on other Google platforms that have nothing to do with email. In cases where users have previously contributed to certain Google platforms while unaware of the risks, those platforms can provide worrying amounts of location data.
In this case, none of that data relates to the Romanian Copyright Office.
Image Credit: Pixabay/succo