One of my most frequently encountered – and important – jobs as a digital entertainment lawyer is to advise on intellectual property ownership: who owns which bits of this great game/software/artwork/video/audio etc? This comes up so often, and from time to time can cause such controversy in the press, that I thought I might write some quick pointers about it, which I hope you’ll find useful.
TL;DR: to make sure you own your stuff, here’s some tips about IP and contract law. I’ve also given you a free template document, too!
Continue reading A practical legal guide to owning your own IP
I just saw an interesting story on Eurogamer: the developer of Darkest Dungeon, a popular new indie game, has hit out at a clearly fake version of its game on the Windows Games Store. The developer is said to have reached out to Microsoft for help. I’m sure they will oblige in due course.
I thought I’d take this opportunity to write a quick post because what you probably WON’T read about is what Microsoft, or any other platform which is said to be hosting fake/fraudulent/illegal/infringing content (“content” btw might be games, film, audio, artwork – anything) might say in response to the developer: Continue reading Why DMCA and trademark protection is a no-brainer: the Darkest Dungeon scam
Hotline Miami 2, the forthcoming sequel to the excellent indie game Hotline Miami (note: I wrote that in bold, underline and italics to show how much I mean it), has been denied classification in Australia (another victim of the relatively restrictive local age rating system there). So its developer instead just told Australian fans to pirate the game for free, attracting no small amount of games press in the process (hello, Streisand Effect). So, I thought I’d write a little post on the subject of what happens legally if a developer pirates, or encourages piracy of, its own video game? Continue reading Can you pirate your own video game?
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. Continue reading Modchips now legal in the EU (as long as they’re not naughty)
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. Continue reading A legal guide to Let’s Play and gaming videos
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. Continue reading More on modchips: are they legal in the EU?
Spry Fox and 6Waves have settled their legal dispute over allegations that 6Waves had cloned Spry Fox’s game Triple Town. News of the lawsuit received great attention and no small amount of oppobrium directed at 6Waves. News of the settlement has received similar fanfare. But does this really matter to the wider games or software industry? I don’t think so – not from a purely legal perspective anyway. Continue reading Spry Fox settles with 6Waves – does it matter?
A long awaited development in UK civil procedure is due to make low value IP infringement claims quicker and cheaper. It is called the small claims track, it will be open for IP infringement cases worth less than £5,000 and it will be heard by the specialist Patents County Court.
My friend Rosie Burbidge, a solicitor at Rouse (as well as a writer of the Art and Artifice art law blog and contributor to the famous IPKat IP law blog) wrote on the Guardian about this development. This is (some of) what she said: Continue reading Small UK IP lawsuits get quicker and cheaper (in theory)
My employer, Osborne Clarke, held its biannual Interactive Entertainment Legal Forum (a networking event and training session for inhouse games lawyers from UK and Europe) last month. I spoke about the difficult topic of game cloning, non-literal copying and recent legal developments regarding it. What actually is the law about game cloning in the UK and EU? Is it right that there’s no real legal recourse for cloning? Continue reading Game cloning: recent legal developments