The NDA and you

At the moment, the World of Warcraft community is all up in a tizzy. Yesterday, MMO-Champion.com spewed a massive amount of leaked screenshots onto their main page. These were apparently pulled from the Alpha Client. The interesting part about it all, is that the Friends & Family Alpha is supposedly covered by an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement). A Non-Disclosure Agreement is:

a legal contract between at least two parties that outlines confidential material, knowledge, or information that the parties wish to share with one another for certain purposes, but wish to restrict access to by third parties. It is a contract through which the parties agree not to disclose information covered by the agreement. An NDA creates a confidential relationship between the parties to protect any type of confidential and proprietary information or trade secrets. As such, an NDA protects non-public business information.

So, according to the contract, which I’m assuming had to be signed to be part of the Alpha test, the party who is agreeing to the contract must not leak or provide information provided from the Alpha test to the outside/a 3rd party.

Slight SPOILER ALERT, after the break, one image, but it’s kind of important, I’d think.

I’m really surprised that MMO-Champion has yet to receive a cease and desist letter. Especially with the sheer amount of information leaked. And, it wasn’t only pretty pretty screenshots, apparently class talent trees and abilities, still under development, were also provided to the site.

According to what I had read, the NDA can have some loopholes, but most covered by blanket statements in the NDA. See below:

Some common issues addressed in an NDA include:

  • outlining the parties to the agreement;
  • the definition of what is confidential, i.e. the information to be held confidential. Modern NDAs will typically include a laundry-list of types of items which are covered, including unpublished patent applications, know-how, schema, financial information, verbal representations, customer lists, vendor lists, business practices/strategies, etc;
  • the exclusions from what must be kept confidential. Typically, the restrictions on the disclosure or use of the confidential data will be invalid if
    • the recipient had prior knowledge of the materials;
    • the recipient gained subsequent knowledge of the materials from another source;
    • the materials are generally available to the public; or
    • the materials are subject to a subpoena. In any case, a subpoena would more likely than not override a contract of any sort;
  • provisions restricting the transfer of data in violation of national security;
  • the term (in years) of the confidentiality, i.e. the time period of confidentiality;
  • the term (in years) the agreement is binding;
  • permission to obtain ex-parte injunctive relief;
  • the obligations of the recipient regarding the confidential information, typically including some version of obligations:
    • to use the information only for enumerated purposes;
    • to disclose it only to persons with a need to know the information for those purposes;
    • to use appropriate efforts (not less than reasonable efforts) to keep the information secure. Reasonable efforts is often defined as a standard of care relating to confidential information that is no less rigorous than that which the recipient uses to keep its own similar information secure; and
    • to ensure that anyone to whom the information is disclosed further abides by obligations restricting use, restricting disclosure, and ensuring security at least as protective as the agreement; and
  • types of permissible disclosure – such as those required by law or court order.

Now, I won’t complain, I’m a big fan of spoilers, as I feel that it is a big difference between seeing the screenshots themselves, and then seeing them in action in game. Much like the fact that I don’t mind some folks ruining the end of a movie or game, as I will still experience it in person, and have my own opinion. As I’ve said before, I’m a visual person, and something moving is much more of an attraction than a still photo.

A great example is this screenshot from the Stormwind section.

Valley of Heroes - Stormwind

Valley of Heroes - Stormwind

This picture shows the normal Valley of Heroes as you enter Stormwind, but there’s one difference… see that on top of the two towers on each side of the bridge.

Deathwing Claw Marks

Deathwing Claw Marks

OMG

OMG

Ya, those are claw marks… BIG claw marks. Considering that Deathwing is supposed to escape the Elemental Plane just north of Stormwind, and in addition, from other screens I’ve seen, blow a hole in northern Stormwind’s ground, I’m guessing that he makes a quick landing here before leaving.

This would be awesome to actually see in motion, not just a screenshot. It also shows that the initial images of Deathwing, truly aren’t showing his real scale.

Again though, I’m really surprised that Blizzard hasn’t put a smack down on MMO-Champion, unless there is a loophole in the NDA that allows screenshots. To tell you the truth, if they didn’t want screenshots to leak out, they’d disable that ability (sure people can still do screencaps, but it takes more work than just hitting Print Screen). I personally would not post them myself, even if I had access. It would be more of a personal thing, maybe show it to my brother or friends or something (it is called Friends & Family), but not post it publicly.

What are  your thoughts on the sudden massive leak of information? Do  you like spoilers or try to shy away?

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