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I play this online web browser game, and I created a bot that I use to automate in-game actions. Of course using scripts/bots is prohibited in game rules and leads to banishment if detected.

So my question is: legally speaking, is it illegal to sell this bot to other players? Or charge them a monthly fee for using it?

If marketing it is legal, is there anything else that's illegal when dealing with online games and botting ?

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Cheating in video games is not against the law. (If it's not for profit)

IANAL

The legality of cheating in video games has already been challenged in a court of law.

You see, Nintendo didn't want people to cheat. Fearing it would lower the financial value of their games if you can beat them in just a few minutes.

It was argued in court that a video game is no different than a book. If you want to read the end of the book, skip to your favorite chapter or skim quickly through a boring part you can. The conclusion is the game is yours to enjoy in anyway you want. Nobody can tell you how to play your game.

There's an interesting and short documentary about the legal history of cheating in video games by the gaming historian.

Also it doesn't matter what the TOS says.

TOS is not legally binding Good news: another federal judge has ruled that violating a website terms of service is not a crime. But there's bad news, too — the court also found that bypassing technical or code-based barriers intended to limit access to or uses of a website may violate California's computer crime law.

However, I've read you can be sued for breach of contract, if the site can prove any damages based on your cheating. I found that answer here on Law.SE and they didn't provide a source so I can't verify if it's true.

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  • Somebody please comment here and let me know if TOS is legally binding or not with a source. I'll update my answer. Mar 22, 2018 at 19:21
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    It depends on the ToS. A clickwrap terms of service is more likely to form a contract than a browsewrap terms of service. Some jurisdictions are more or less likely than others to uphold a ToS agreement as a contract. In most common law jurisdictions, a ToS agreement is likely to be a contract of adhesion (see law.cornell.edu/wex/adhesion_contract_contract_of_adhesion), which introduces other interpretative considerations. Bottom line: it's impossible to make a blanket statement about ToS enforceability. Mar 22, 2018 at 19:37
  • @JeanLucPicard If a federal judge makes a ruling on it, isn't that how other judges are supposed to rule as well? Mar 22, 2018 at 19:52
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    Not necessarily. Courts are generally theoretically required to rule in a manner consistent with their own precedent and that of courts above them. However, there can be a scenario where one court of appeals says one thing, and another court of appeals says another, called a "circuit split." That means that federal courts under each court of appeals are working off different precedent. (It's also possible for there to be conflicting precedent on an issue due to, for instance, courts wanting to find in favor of the "good guy;' jurists are, after all, only human). Mar 22, 2018 at 19:59
  • See law.cornell.edu/wex/circuit_split Mar 22, 2018 at 19:59
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Depending on the jurisdiction, intentionally accessing an online web browser game using a bot in breach of the terms of service for that game may be a computer crime such as 'unauthorised access to a computer system' (especially in the United States). Selling the bot (or access to the bot) would constitute a conspiracy, aiding and abetting, or some other form of accessory liability (i.e. both you and your customer would go to prison).

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  • do similar rules apply in european countries ?
    – Glassic
    Apr 1, 2017 at 21:25
  • Unfortunately I don't know anything about European law. A lot of computer offences were drafted without a good understanding of computer crime, so it's kind of random whether a given law penalises access to a system, access to data, damage to data, etc, or what other subset of 'hacking' is criminalised. So it might be that a terms of service violation is not an offence in every jurisdiction, but you would want to be very careful about that kind of thing. Another reason to be careful is that your Internet activities tend to bounce around everywhere, so might attract another jurisdiction etc. Apr 2, 2017 at 7:01
  • @PatrickConheady "unauthorized access to a computer system" doesn't sound accurate. A bot isn't hacking or modifying anyones computer except the users. And automating actions is not "conspiracy, aiding and abetting, or some other form of accessory liability" You're describing someone hacking into a server to give themselves currency they don't own. Your post would apply to the FIFA Hackers Not an automation bot. Mar 22, 2018 at 18:51
  • And since when is TOS legally binding. I believe it's not legally binding. Mar 22, 2018 at 18:51
  • You're right: it probably isn't unauthorized access. But it might be "exceeding authorized access." (See pages 14-16 of justice.gov/sites/default/files/criminal-ccips/legacy/2015/01/…). Mar 22, 2018 at 19:53

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