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(COURTESY PHOTO) A large group of players gathers on the “World of Warcraft” Nostalrius server to protest the soon-to-be closure of the server after developer Blizzard Entertainment issued a cease-and-desist letter. The closure raises the question of a consumer’s ownership rights to the software purchased.

Popular Nostalrius server closes over 'WoW' threats

The closure of a popular "World of Warcraft" server this week has brought the discussion of digital content rights back into the spotlight in the video game industry.

"World of Warcraft" has undergone a tremendous amount of change in its more than decade-long reign as king of the massively multiplayer online RPG mountain. After five expansions  with a sixth one planned later this year  the game's structure and certain game play elements have been drastically altered  much to the chagrin of many. Despite a large number of servers, none of them ever featured the same game play of the original "vanilla" release from 2004. Whether driven by a more "simple" game or nostalgia or something else, many players longed for the days of a "pure" "World of Warcraft" before "The Burning Crusades" began the first of many changes.

Enter Nostalrius, a sever set up by a small subset of the community, on which players could play "WoW" as it was released in 2004. The server quickly grew in popularity as word spread until it became the most populated server in the game  with more players than even Blizzard's official servers. The server's operators never charged for its use or solicited any donations. There was no profit to be made off Nostalrius, which is often a stickler for fan passion projects. It still drew the ire of developer Blizzard Entertainment.

Lawyers from both the United States and France reached out to Nostalriusfounders on behalf of Blizzard this week to inform them a lawsuit would be filed for damages unless the server was shut down within a week. Nostalrius' founders obviously complied and the server will be fully terminated this weekend, but not without a substantial amount of fanfare and support from the community.

Hundreds, if not thousands, of players have already offered their support  both in game and online. Blizzard's official "WoW" forums have been flooded with comments ever since the announcement earlier this week, demanding the developer either withdraw its threat of a lawsuit or implement an official "vanilla" server of its own. Thus far, those requests have gone unheeded and most threads on the subject on the forum have been deleted almost as soon as they've been posted. It doesn't appear as if Blizzard will change its course.

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