Twitch viewbot makers ordered to pay $1.4 million in court
The makers of a Twitch “viewbot” that enabled users to fraudulently rack up large viewer counts and thereby get into its lucrative Partner program have been ordered to pay nearly $1.4 million to the company for trademark violation, unfair competition, cybersquatting, and breach of contract.
Twitch filed the suit in 2016 against multiple alleged defendants. Named in the case were Michael and Katherine Anjomi, and several other defendants. The services were offered through shoptwitch.com, twitchshop.com, and twitchstreams.org and charged as much as $760 per month for viewbotting depending on the user. The primary purpose of these services was to allow unscrupulous streamers to inflate their viewership to gain access to Twirch’s Partner Program.
The suit alleges that bots not only harm organic growth of the service, but that they also make it much harder for users to discover new entertainment due to artificial explosions in popularity. The users relying on bots to force their popularity also call the long-term survivability of Twitch into question.
“As a result, Twitch may lose its carefully developed reputation as the premier service for quality social videogame content, the ability to attract and retain users, and the goodwill of the community.”
With Twitch spending millions securing rights for popular events, or to bring new talent to the platform, the case stands on solid ground in terms of a financial incentive for Twitch to protect its image and reputation.
The botmakers, who did not present a defense, were ordered to pay $55,000 in statutory damages to Twitch, and another $1,316,139, accounting for the profits earned through the sale of their botting services. They must also disable their botting services, and turn over the infrastructure of those services over to Twitch. And of course, they’re barred from using Twitch permanently and creating more bots as well.
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