14-Year Old Video Game Cheater Sued, Mum Says He's A Scapegoat [Update]

Last month, Epic took the unusual step of not just banning two Fortnite players from the game for cheating, but taking them to court. It's since been revealed that one of the accused is only 14 years old, and his mother is not happy. [Correction - December 1: The boy in question is yet another Fortnite player who has also been sued by Epic.]

Epic Is Suing Two Alleged Fortnite Cheaters

Fortnite On Tuesday, Fortnite publisher Epic Games filed civil complaints against two alleged associates of the website Addicted Cheats who apparently used the site's aimbotting services to kill Twitch streamers live on camera.

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She has addressed the court directly through a letter, which attacks Epic's handling of the case on a number of grounds.

  • She says that Fortnite's terms require parental consent for minors, and that she never gave this consent.

  • She says the case is based on a loss of profits, but argues that it's a free-to-play video game, and that in order to prove a loss Epic would need to provide a statement certifying that Rogers' cheating directly caused a "mass profit loss".

  • She claims that by going after individual players, rather than the websites selling/providing the software necessary to cheat in an online game, Epic is "using a 14 year-old child as a scapegoat".

  • She claims that her son did not, as Epic allege, help create the cheat software, but simply downloaded it as a user, and that Epic "has no capability of proving any form of modification".
  • Finally, the mother says that by releasing her son's name publicly in conjunction with the move that Epic has violated Delaware laws related to the release of information on minors.

There's also the matter, as TorrentFreak point out, that you can't actually sue a minor directly, raising the possibility that Epic didn't know the full identity of the accused before going ahead with the case.

You can read the letter in full below:

The cases began last month, when Epic began taking action against individual users who had used (and were allegedly associates of) the site Addicted Cheats to obtain "aimbots" that would give them a competitive edge in the game.

Those cheat services aren't free, with players paying between $US5-$US15 ($7-20) a month for them.

Epic has decided to take the users to court, rather than just ban them, after deciding that the modification of the game's code is against Fortnite's End User Licence Agreement and the Copyright Act.

[Update - Dec 1: It's not listed in the case specifically which cheat program the 14-year-old had been using in his videos, though his YouTube channel does mention the service unknowncheats.]

"This particular lawsuit arose as a result of the defendant filing a DMCA counterclaim to a takedown notice on a YouTube video that exposed and promoted Fortnite Battle Royale cheats and exploits", Epic says in a statement given to Kotaku. "Under these circumstances, the law requires that we file suit or drop the claim.

"Epic is not ok with ongoing cheating or copyright infringement from anyone at any age. As stated previously, we take cheating seriously, and we'll pursue all available options to make sure our games are fun, fair, and competitive for players."

UPDATE: Added more detail to mother's complaints summary for those unable to see image clearly on mobile.

UPDATE: Added statement from Epic

WATCH MORE: PC Gaming News


Comments

    Wow, I hate cheating in an game so much. But the mums claims are spot and and very fair.
    Epic should just back off on this particular case I think.
    Also why Sue the user and not the makers.

      I've only skimmed over the terms for both but technically, the only leg the mum has to stand on is possibly the case against a minor.

      Fortnite ToS specifically outline that use of software to circumvent or gain advantage during online play is not allowed.

      Additionally, Addicted Cheats' ToS specifically note that these tools are only for personal use in private servers. Using them on online servers by epic would void their rights with this software.

      My feeling from the quick read is that the kid has violated two sets of terms. The law against minors being sued will likely have this case dismissed, but that's more a loophole to their use of the software rather than an incorrect case being filed; as epic would not have had that info at the time of submission

      Last edited 27/11/17 5:58 pm

        Additionally, Addicted Cheats' ToS specifically note that these tools are only for personal use in private servers.

        Oh please. That's like buying a playboy 'for the articles'

          Or like torrent sites saying they dont host any pirated content, They just link it.

          Since they don't have nudes in them anymore, what else would you buy them for?

            Actually, the Playboy nudity ban only lasted a year.

              Ah, I never read them, just remember the news article about it when it happened. Did they ever even have much nudity in them to start with?

                lol, leading question, but at the risk of outing myself, as I recall there has only ever been the centerfold and a couple of other very tasteful, barely softcore photo spreads.

                I understand that Hugh Hefner's vision was for a 'gentleman's magazine' with genuinely well paid and interesting investigative journalism, and a range of the usual articles on expensive watches, cars, cigars and exotic travel. Basically, something that James Bond might read.

                It's why reading the magazine 'for the articles' is a joke that works for Playboy and not, for example, Hustler. Many university libraries maintain subscriptions.

        Violating the Terms of Service of a game isn't enough for you to be liable for damages and get sued. At worst they should ban the kid. To sue him they have to prove that his use of cheats has cost them excessive amounts of money (other than court costs). They can't do that because it hasn't. They'd be better off suing the cheat makers rather than any individual players and especially not a kid.

        Edit: NVM, commenter below has provided more relevance and shown more journalism skills than the article above. They're well within their rights to sue him.

        Last edited 28/11/17 9:19 am

        The other part that could be an issue is that they are suing for financial loss. They will have trouble proving that a single user having a cheat installed caused them financial loss.

          I'm not sure if you have to prove it in American law. In Australia you have to prove loss, but there I'm not sure. I know with copy right infringement there is no need for proof.

            Loss is not normally relevant for proving that an offense has occurred, however it is always relevant, even in the US, for determining an appropriate penalty.

            If minimal or no loss has been established then the default penalty is generally assumed to be proportionate to the proven loss unless there are aggravating circumstances. As a result, people rarely if ever get sued if there is no provable loss in both the US and in Australia because there is little incentive to sue people for a peppercorn judgement.

            It is true, however, that it is easier to establish aggravating circumstances in most US courts.

            Last edited 28/11/17 4:14 pm

          Well, it's not just that he cheated. It's the fact that he was distributing the cheat and possibly getting money for it. It'll still be pretty much impossible for them to prove just how much damage the kid may have caused them, or even that he caused any damage at all. It's very likely that they won't get any money out of this. But just the chance that it may deter others might just be enough for them to continue this.

          If they can prove that he made the cheat in the first place (as they seem to be trying to do) then they'll almost definitely get some money out of it.

          Last edited 28/11/17 11:54 pm

      Her claims are ignorant.
      She assumes that by not directly signing the waiver, her son is not liable. By him still using the software, he created a liability by implied acceptance of the waiver. It is not the responsibility of Epic to pursue verification for anyone not covered by COPPA.
      He is not a scapegoat, but one of the few people stupid enough to make a counterclaim instead of simply removing the video. He had a fair chance to avoid it.
      If there was any sort of monetization, he screwed himself on fair usage claims. One of the terms in monetization is that you have rights to the content. Violating the EULA in the video was more than enough proof that he waived any rights to the content.
      Free to play games are not free in every sense of the word. Fortnite has paid content, which people may not buy because of this cheat. The cheat can deter players from playing, which in turn can massively impact sales of their paid content. It isn't hard to prove that.

      The kid deserves to sweat, even if he gets out of it. Maybe he'll learn something about when it is right to sit down and shut up. At least his parents will stop handing him the credit card.

      The kid is being sued after making a counterclaim to his YouTube video showing how to use the cheat programs which they tried to DMCA.
      They can't have that stuff on YouTube, and their only option after the counterclaim is to sue or let the video stayed up.

      If every company did the latter, then you could have any amount of illegal works on YouTube as long as they were uploaded by minors.
      With the system the way it is the kid forced their hand, but I imagine this will be settled out of court anyway with the kid simply agreeing to take the video down.

    Ehhh still hoping that dumpster the kid, making examples of these people is next level anti cheat.

    Some finer points about this lawsuit:

    - The kid streamed videos of himself playing and cheating on fortnite, while promoting and demonstrating the cheat, and provided a link to donate and get the cheat program.
    - The 14 year old kid was warned numerous times by Epic Games, and had videos and channels removed, and his fortnite account banned.
    - This didn't take, and the kid created numerous fake accounts to circumvent the ban, and also created new youtube channels to keep streaming, and kept providing links for the cheat and donations.
    - The kid even went to the extent as to taunt and insult Epic in his videos and social media, and even doxxed the personal details of one of Epic’s legal team.
    - In the US, a 14 year old child can enter into a contract and be responsible for the rights and damages within that contract (might vary state to state), so this might show that the EULA is binding.
    - When suing someone in court, they must declare who they're suing (although this probably protects minors)
    - Plenty of precedence in the 80's/90's where a person who broke the EULA has been brought to court and successfully sued.
    - This case might set a new precedent regarding underaged persons being bound by EULAs even when it comes into F2P games
    - It's not about how it affects other people playing the game, but also the employees of the developers who rely on their jobs to provide for themselves and their families.
    - A letter from mom wouldn't undo the repeated offences of the child, considering Epic did take numerous steps in order to control the situation, but were pushed to further action due to the child's idiocy.

    More interesting details about copyright law and how this applies to this particular situation in a couple of videos by Leonard French (Gamer/Geek/Copyright Attorney). It's a meaty watch, but interesting nonetheless:
    1. Mom's letter to judge
    2. Lawsuit / Complaint

    Update from Eurogamer article

    It has now come to light that one of the defendants is a 14-year-old who Epic Games sued because the teenager appealed against the developer's DMCA takedown request of a YouTube video revealing how to use cheats. Legally, Epic Games had to either withdraw the DMCA takedown request or file suit against the teen. The developer chose the latter.
    "This particular lawsuit arose as a result of the defendant filing a DMCA counterclaim to a takedown notice on a YouTube video that exposed and promoted Fortnite Battle Royale cheats and exploits," said an Epic Games spokesperson in a statement to Eurogamer. "Under these circumstances, the law requires that we file suit or drop the claim.

    In a nutshell, because the child filed a counterclaim, Epic either had to accept and withdraw the DMCA action, or escalate the suit to court. These were the only two options they had according to law.

    Source: Eurogamer

    Last edited 27/11/17 6:21 pm

      Was going to link Leonard here but you've already done it :)

      All this woman has done is strengthen Epic's case against him.

      Awesome analysis of the situation - kudos!

      I got about halfway through the list and all I could think is "Nail the little shit to a cross ... right next to his mother."

      Last edited 28/11/17 8:19 am

      update moved to original comment

      Last edited 28/11/17 8:41 am

      Holy shit! Facts! On the internet!

      Thank you for taking the time to fill in the many gaps this story had.

      awesome comment, thank you for the effort you put into providing these details.

      Me, prior: bullying a kid, so uncool Epic :(

      Me now: Wow the little turd literally gave them no choice.

      Can't really blame the mother for what she's doing though. Kid likely played victim to her, doubt she has the facts and she sees this massive company coming down on her son. Itll also be her money that they'll take if sued, so what choice does she have but to try and fight it no matter how crappy that kid was? I feel for her and it only makes me angrier at him for putting his family in that position. 14 is underage but it's old enough to have an understanding of the situation. He knew exactly what he was doing.

    The most surprising thing I got out of this article was that the cheats were subscription based.

    Next there will be cheat loot crates to give you a sense of pride and accomplishment.

      It'd be because otherwise, why buy a cheat program and then have the patch a week later break it and then have to buy the cheat once more for the new version? This way, they'll constantly keep the cheats up to date and working.

      Yay. :/

    K so the devs may have over-reached here given that he is a minor. but fuck that little dipshit. cheating is not ok. ban that pathetic piece of shit and his mum.

    Wow. Situations like these are very tricky. As much as I hate cheaters. The mother has a very valid case here.

    Let's see where this leads to.

      Surprised me too but i guess maybe they update them to beat anti cheat stuff?

      Agree hate cheaters, but don't go Defcon 5 and start acting like the RIAA. If your taking legal action it has to be after the people who make a business of selling/creating cheats.

      Way to go Mum... Epics best option is to drop this FAST!

      Interesting to see if Mum could make a very strong case for a summary judgement in her favour... which could declare any Terms of Service or EULA presented to a minor as automatically invalid. Precedent Set Match!

        By you logic don't go after murders but the companies that supplied the weapons used in the murder.
        Don't go after bank robbers but the maker of the get away car they used.
        Don't fire deserving staff but their parents who raised them.
        Etc, etc.

          Well, sure, if we ignore the context and ignore the fact that cheating in a game isn't really comparable to murdering people

          Don't go after the drug users, go after the dealers?

            Go after both.
            Each is just as responsible, and breaking the law.

          Underlying principles might be similar, but you've ignored things like diminishing returns and ceilings/floors for when action is pointless.

          More like to stop drugs, it's far more effective to go after the drug dealers than goafter the addicts. A much better metaphor.

        If your taking legal action it has to be after the people who make a business of selling/creating cheats.
        Not at all. Go after the users, make using the cheat software a risky prospect, kill the demand, subscription service/cheat software dies on the vine. It's a valid tactic. As others have said - the kid did wrong by two sets of terms and the only thing that will save him is the laws regarding minors in his home state in the US.
        Besides, this kid needs a quick moral compass adjustment if he is willing to pay an ongoing subscription so he can either rise in the ranks of a game without skill and/or fuck up other people's games.

        Wouldn't take much to amend the claim to be against the mother, now they know the perpetrator is a minor. With that done, her letter basically makes Epic's case for them.

        What's the lesson here? Lawyer up. Always.

        Nah, the kid filed counterclaims against their takedowns of his cheating YouTube videos. They had to either drop it or sue. He pushed their hand and has no leg to stand on.

      Actually she doesnt, A lot of her supposed "Claims" are false and in fact her statements in the document have strengthened Epics case against the boy.

      Watch this for an explanation from an actual lawyer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5lMFjME9qI

        Leonard is showing that her letter isn't a slam dunk, he's providing recourse and precedent.
        I bet you would find him just as compelling and knowledgeable and if he was defending the mothers letter.
        That's how their system works, convincing the judge which complaints carry weight and which should be ignored.

        My guess this was more PR based for Epic and wasn't the desired result in conception,
        so I'm thinking withdrawn and dismissed anyway.

        Be interesting to see.

          I think if anything the whole saga will have scared the shit out of this kid now that his name is out there.

            I doubt that if anything the snot nose little kid now knows he can hide behind mummy for any other disturbances he creates.

    While the mother certainly has some good points, the kid still needs to be made an example of.
    Maybe not sued, but there needs to be some form of consequence here.
    I will never for the life of me understand why people feel the need to cheat. do they just suck so bad at a game? Is there another reason I'm missing...

    Last edited 27/11/17 8:09 pm

    Leonard J. French (copyright attorney) tore a lot of her arguments to shreds on his channel. Additionally her response helps prove part of Epic's case by admitting he was cheating.

    Also... why does she say that he wasn't playing with parents permission, when she is his parent? (aim gun at foot).

    Looks like this one is going to get nasty.

      Yup, Cant wait to see this kid get taken down hard. All his mum has achieved is make the case worse for him.

        I'm sorry, you're excited about seeing a 14 year old get sued for cheating in a videogame? Are you, like, OK?

          I think its the morality of the story. If he gets away with it, kinda teaches him that he can continue doing so with zero consequences.

            We don't give lasting consequences to children, it's not a rational or fair thing to do. His crime has had a negligible effect on anything that matters. On top of that, they released his name, opening him to harassment. They need to back off before ruining this kid's life for cheating in a videogame

              Where does the line get drawn with your argument? I am not trying to be a dick but he as a "child" (even though I hardly class a 14 year old as a child) knew fair well what he was doing was wrong and against the terms & conditions he signed up to, & to go as far as to taunt Epic is incredibly stupid or ignorant.

                I think the line is drawn, by the law, that says he's a minor.

                  Hahaha my point was where does the line get drawn in regards to trying a minor? So in this circumstance he has breached some terms and conditions from a game that kinda says that you break these terms you break the law. Then you have another 14 year old that goes out and one punches an elderly person and puts them in a coma. So should either of these "minors" get a trial?

              What "lasting consequences" are you talking about? No one is saying to jail him for life.

              At this point it'll be hard for Epic to prove the kid cost them anything. He certainly did cost them something. Distributing cheats would cost them money in the long run as cheaters will drive away legitimate customers. Just how much this one child cost them though is difficult to pin down. Likely they'll get nothing out of it except the kid being legally banned from the game and his mother on the hook for damages if she doesn't stop him from screwing around with this game again.

              Hopefully, this will teach the kid that actions have consequences. Realistically, this kid will just start all this crap again on some other game.

              What lasting consequences? Likely outcome is his dcma counterclaim will he stood down, he’ll he order to stop cheating or. It playbtue game again, and he’ll pay lawyers fees.

              Oh no what a terrible outcomes for him.

              Remember this only occurred because he counterclaimed the dcma takedown and forced Epics hand in the matter

            He's 14 though. Every 14 year old knows they're invincible, and besides, the rules don't apply to them. Right?

            This goes the full process, they're potentially destroying the life of a 14 year old.

            This is why minors don't get tried as adults. They generally aren't mature enough to grasp or understand the full implications of their actions, simply because they don't have the life experience necessary.

            This kid deserves something though. Not necessarily because of the cheating (when I was his age, I'd get a whack across the bum, and that would be it) but because how he tried to throw it back at Epic with the counter DMCA.

              If he cheated but wasn't a dick about it and show boating about cheating then fair enough. But I guess it all just caught up with him, I mean it is a little harsh but how do you get through to minors who think they are invincible and can't be touched. I guess that is what bothers me about this generation of kids these days, zero consequences for their actions. And they know it apparently.

                Yup, I hear ya. Its become hard for parents to actually parent.

                Not saying parents should go around beating their kids, but denying them their iPad for a day isn't a punishment. Or its called psychological abuse, and the parent is punished for trying to show there are consequences.

                And yeah, the fact this kid followed through needs to be acted on for the reasons you state. Just to scare the bejesus out of him so he knows there are consequences.

                  100% agree. Like I said problem, well in my town we have a large number of juveniles I am talking 10-12 year olds going around burning houses down and breaking into peoples houses and stealing their shit, yet the authorities can't put them on trial is a bit fucking nonsense because they are minors. Yet it continues to happen. I am not saying that this story is as sever as what happens around my community but geese it really does make me wonder.

          It's escalated beyond cheating.

          The child also filed a DMCA counterclaim against Epic's takedown notice. By law, the only two valid options the company had were to either accept the counterclaim and back off, or to bring the suit into court, which they did.

          I for one am really interested to see what precedence this sets (if any)

          After taunting Epic and pulling all that shit on YouTube. Yeah sure. Its not like he didnt it once and got caught.

          It did it multiple times.

          Have you read up what this kid has done?

          - The kid streamed videos of himself playing and cheating on fortnite, while promoting and demonstrating the cheat, and provided a link to donate and get the cheat program.
          - The 14 year old kid was warned numerous times by Epic Games, and had videos and channels removed, and his fortnite account banned.
          - This didn't take, and the kid created numerous fake accounts to circumvent the ban, and also created new youtube channels to keep streaming, and kept providing links for the cheat and donations.
          - The kid even went to the extent as to taunt and insult Epic in his videos and social media, and even doxxed the personal details of one of Epic’s legal team.

          The kid is a little shit and needs reality to slap him hard in the face.

    This is the kind of information that should have been in the article as it casts the situation in a very different light than what the article presents.

    Sounds like mum overreacted when it was brought to her attention that her son is an obnoxious little shit.

      Pretty normal behaviour these days. Plus the kid going to massively distort the facts to her when explaining it all.

    Personally, I think that this a classic sign of a 14 year old who is addicted to the game. Addicted people are usually obnoxious and nasty people - who made them addicted in the first place? These free-to-play games seem to be like gambling - to do better faster you need to pay. This child wants to play, but only has minimal money. So the child finds another way to do better in the game. Just like druggies, alcholoics and compulsive gamblers. Someone else provided the tools - as someone else has already said, "Go after the dealer."

    Phone and video game addiction are the 21st century. They are designed to be addictive. Just look at the number of people who can't drive home without checking their phone and sending a replay text. I would not be surprised to see in 20 years many technology organisations be the recipients of massive class-action lawsuits using the current tobacco and asbestos industry precedents.

      Yeah, i don't think so. They are addictive yes, but at that age, the mother should be limiting or observing the child. She's at fault here, not the company.

    Good on Epic I say! From reading all the facts posted above this kid is a serial pest and appears to be happy spoiling the game for all the other honest players.
    May he be used as an example for other pests plaguing online games! ????

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