Should you make a copy of one of the most successful games in the world and open it up to players at the risk of a hefty lawsuit? No. Should you, an employee of the developer of said game, personally reach out to the creator of such a project and tell them “Give me what I’m looking for and we won’t sue”? Also no.
Yet both of those things happened, so here we are.
PCGamer is reporting that the maker of Chronoshift, a fan-made League of Legends emulator that enabled a 10-year-old version of the game, has been shut down by Riot Games. That, in and of itself, should come as no surprise, since that sort of thing — even if done for no profit, as its creator claims — is clearly a breach of copyright. They were even warned (kindly) by a Riot dev a year ago, who said “please don’t do this.”
“Do this,” they did anyway, and it operated for a year with little issue. However, last weekend, the developer was approached on Discord by someone claiming to be with Riot’s security team, demanding the source code and all identifiable information related to Chronoshift, using frankly hostile language to do so:
“Give me what I’m looking for and we won’t sue. Refuse and we will. I’m not interested in dragging this out. If you feel you’d like to speak to legal representation you are certainly capable of doing so. I’m on the security team. I find people and things. I don’t practice law and have little/nothing to do with any legal proceedings Riot is involved in. We can come to an agreement to end this today or we can both hand this off to counsel. To be honest I don’t care either way.”
Riot would later make formal legal contact with the Chronoshift dev and request that they cease development on their project, while also admitting that the Discord conversation was with an actual employee. However, the company said that it was “disappointed with the tenor of the conversation” and would be addressing the issue internally.
There’s no doubt that what Chronoshift was doing violated Riot’s copyrights and that the company was fully within its rights to have it shut down. The manner in which the message was initially delivered, however, is sure to leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, even those who would normally side with Riot in this dispute.