Destiny 2 cheat maker owes Bungie $4.4M after judge rules it violated the DMCA

(Image credit: Bungie)

Bungie has won a $4.4 million arbitration award against AimJunkies after a judge found that the cheat maker violated the DMCA by bypassing Destiny 2's protections and reverse-engineering the game in order to develop cheats which it then sold to players.

Bungie unleashed the lawyers against multiple Destiny 2 cheat makers beginning in 2020, including PerfectAim, GatorCheats, and Ring-1. But it ran into a snag against AimJunkies in May 2022 when a judge dismissed the copyright infringement portion of Bungie's claim: AimJunkies argued that its software was an original creation and so does not constitute an "unauthorized copy," and the judge in the matter ruled that Bungie had failed to demonstrate otherwise.

The judge in the case gave Bungie leave to re-file the complaint with additional evidence to bolster its claim, however, and also determined that other, separate claims, including trademark infringement and DMCA violations, were sufficient to proceed. The bulk of those claims—everything excluding the copyright, trademark, and "false designation of origin" allegations—were referred to arbitration, as agreed by both AimJunkies and Bungie.

Following a hearing in December 2022, the arbitration process has now concluded with a big win for Bungie. In the ruling (via TorrentFreak), judge Ronald E. Cox found in favor of Bungie on all the stated claims: That AimJunkies violated the DMCA by making its cheat software and then selling it to the public, breached its contract with Bungie by violating the terms of service, committed "tortious interference" by messing with Bungie's business, violated the state of Washington's Consumer Protection Action, and committed "spoliation" by lying in its response to Bungie's initial cease-and-desist order and destroying financial records and other relevant documents.

Despite AimJunkies' aggressive and partially successful defense against Bungie's initial lawsuit, it doesn't seem to have put up much of a fight in the arbitration process. David Shaefer, the part owner and "managing member" of AimJunkies parent company Phoenix Digital Group, testified during the hearing but "was not a credible witness," the judge found. AimJunkies also "failed to present any evidence to the contrary" against the DMCA violation claims, and to respond to a request for a briefing on the amount of the awards involved—in other words, to tell the judge what it thinks a fair penalty would be, which might mitigate the damage somewhat.

Here's what that damage adds up to:

  • DMCA circumvention violations: $2,500 x 102 violations = $255,000
  • DMCA anti-trafficking violations: $2,500 x 1,361 violations = $3,402,500
  • DMCA violations total penalty: $3,657,500

That's not the end of it. The judge also awarded Bungie $598,641 in attorney's fees, $101,800 for expert witness fees, and $38,281 in "other expenses," leading to a grand total of $4,396,222.

The same day the arbitration ruling was issued, Bungie submitted it to the court presiding over the still-ongoing copyright infringement case, with a request that the court use the ruling to impose a permanent injunction against AimJunkies, and to apply the financial judgment in its favor. Assuming the court does (and it apparently has no standing to refuse), that will effectively end the case.

The day after winning the arbitration case against AimJunkies, Bungie also filed for a default judgment of $6.7 million against another cheat maker called LaviCheats. Bungie's case against LaviCheats actually began in 2021, but LaviCheats has refused to acknowledge or respond to the complaints. LaviCheats did remove Destiny 2 cheats from its website after Bungie emailed the company and posted a message about the legal action to its forums, but Bungie believes that LaviCheats operator Kunal Bansal simply moved the business to a different site called Cobracheats.

I've reached out to Bungie and AimJunkies for comment on the arbitration ruling, and will update if I receive a reply.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.