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Report: Blizzard Threatens Litigation Over Korean StarCraft TV Broadcasts

Blizzard COO Paul Sams expects a court battle over Korean television broadcasts of StarCraft tournaments, stressing that "StarCraft is not a public domain offering."
Blizzard COO Paul Sams expects a court battle over Korean television broadcasts of StarCraft tournaments, according to a report in The Korea Times. Sams singled out Korean cable TV channels MBC Game and OnGameNet, accusing the companies of broadcasting StarCraft tournaments without the consent of Blizzard, which develops the multi-platinum real-time strategy game franchise. Blizzard's run-ins with the Korean eSports industry are notable, as StarCraft is practically a national sport in the country. Professional StarCraft players are also treated like celebrities. StarCraft II: Wings of Liberty, the sequel to the 1998 original StarCraft, launched in July this year worldwide. "It’s unfortunate that the e-sports industry in Korea is lagging behind other industries in recognition of intellectual property (IP) rights and the basic principles related to them. Korea is the only region in the world where we have had to resort to litigation to protect our IP rights," Sams said. According to the report, the executive added that Blizzard has yet to decide whether it would seek a preliminary injunction against further StarCraft broadcasts. Blizzard broke off negotiations with the Korean e-Sports Players Association in April this year, claiming the group -- which is the country's largest pro gaming league -- hasn't exhibited satisfactory recognition of Blizzard's IP rights for StarCraft. KeSPA has argued that StarCraft and other games used in gaming tournaments are in the public domain, a viewpoint that Sams strongly contends. "StarCraft is not a public domain offering, as Blizzard has invested significant money and resources to create the StarCraft game and the overall StarCraft universe," KeSPA said in The Korea Times report. Sams also argued that Blizzard is not trying to muscle in on Korean eSports in order to capture more revenue, stating that the country has only contributed 5 percent of Blizzard's worldwide sales in the past three years.

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