News broke today that the European Commission, one of three arms of the European Union, will be holding a consultation over the next two days regarding in-app purchases and free to play games and any mobile apps that call themselves ‘free’. This post is my initial analysis of this interesting (but not unexpected) development, which potentially bodes a future of big changes for this part of the mobile industry.
What happens when you decide that you no longer want an e-book, film, tv episode, music track or video game which you bought and downloaded? What happens if you decide you want to give it to a friend, relative or just someone who wants to buy it from you? We’re in the middle of trying to find out the answer to that question. It’s being argued out by consumers with businesses and it’s also now attracting the attention of the legal system. I thought my readers in the games and digital creative industries might like a practical summary on what’s been happening recently. Here we go…
We now have some authoritative clarification about the legal status of modchips in the EU for the first time. As longstanding readers of this blog will know, I’ve been writing about modchips for some time. Here’s a quick recap of the latest position.
What are modchips?
Essentially, a modchip is a technology which permits you to circumvent restrictions which a device manufacturer builds into a device to limit your potential usage of the device. These limitations are enforced by technology commonly called ‘technological protection measures’. For example, a modchip might permit you to install software or to play games on a device which otherwise you wouldn’t be able to due to the technological protection measures installed by the device manufacturer on the device. (more…)
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The games press and sections of the games community has got hot under the collar (again) over trademark law. This time around, it’s about news that King.com, maker of Candy Crush Saga and other games, is seeking to trademark ‘Candy’. Cue lots of (to put it charitably) loose talk about ‘monopolies’ and even ‘patent trolling’. I’m going to try and talk some sense about this topic. (more…)
Welcome again to my ongoing 20 Contract Questions series. The most recent two posts were on learning about what a contract means and how to negotiate a contract. In this post, we’ve now put the contract in place, but want to know more about changing or renewing it.
Let’s start by explaining why you need to know more about what’s seemingly an obviously answered question… (more…)
Let’s Play videos, and gaming videos more generally, are awesome. I started playing Minecraft thanks to Seananners’ very early videos about his love of what was then a quirky indie half-finished game just beginning to gather fans; I’ve played many games (and laughed a lot) thanks to the Let’s Play videos of my friends (and clients) at Yogscast; I enjoy video reviews of games from people like my friend Matt Lees at Videogamer.com; several clients of mine got their big break thanks to Let’s Play videos popularising their games. But to many people the legal status of gaming videos is unclear and getting pretty controversial, too.
Some early gaming videos were taken down; Nintendo said they wouldn’t permit them at all (though they may have changed their mind later); and most recently and infamously, some licensing companies used the YouTube system to issue many IP infringement notices to gaming videos (more on that later). To try to clarify what’s actually happening here, I thought I’d write this legal guide. (more…)
In the previous post of this 20 Contract Questions series, we talked about understanding how to read a contract and what it means. Before that, we’ve talked about what a contract is, how you get to the contract stage, and how to read and write a contract. In this post we’re going to discuss some tips for negotiating a contract. (more…)
Here’s something interesting that happened recently: customers of online retailer Zavvi ordered a new game called Tearaway but the retailer mistakenly shipped out to them the game AND a (much more valuable) PlayStation Vita handheld console (see here). They realised their mistake and have since apparently threatened legal action against customers refusing to return the goods.
So here’s a classic legal question for you: when you give someone something different to what either of you were expecting, what happens? Who’s in the right? (more…)
Are modchips ‘legal’ in the EU? If so, what exactly is their legal status? One would have thought that this question would have been answered long ago but, as I’ve written about previously (see here, here and here for example) there have been setbacks and uncertainties along the way as console manufacturers take action against modchip makers, exacerbated by judicial commentary casting questions on exactly how modchips, and the games they work on, are to be treated legally. (more…)
Tech and games companies love non disclosure agreements. Particularly enthusiastic companies tend to scatter them around like confetti. Frequently you have to sign them just to walk into a big tech company’s lobby these days. But NDAs are often misunderstood or used in the wrong way – which can have serious legal consequences. Besides which, we regularly see NDA ‘embargoes’ being breached, to no apparent ill effect. In this post, I talk about what NDAs are, what they do and give some tips for how to use them more effectively. (more…)