Star Wars Battlefront II, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, Overwatch, FIFA 18: these are just a few examples of video games using loot boxes. They are becoming an increasingly common form of microtransaction introduced into video games by developers. But concerns are being raised that they can lead to addiction, particularly among young players. Gambling regulators in various countries are also beginning to take a close look at loot boxes. The Polish government, for one, has announced that it plans to study loot boxes and the related risks. Do loot boxes truly pose a threat requiring regulation?
Last week, without fanfare (compared to the bluster shown by the government a few days later in announcing support for the game industry at Poznań Game Arena), a draft of the Act on Financial Support for Production of Cultural Video Games was released. The solutions bruited for several months stir mixed feelings in the industry. Particular controversy surrounds the “cultural test” games will have to pass before they win support. Some commentators fear this may trigger a flood of poor-quality, superficially patriotic games developed solely with the aim of winning government support. It’s worth taking a closer look at the solutions provided in the bill to reach our own conclusions on how they may impact the Polish game market.
Andrzej Sapkowski’s demands for more money for copyrights to The Witcher is the tip of the iceberg. Changes in the gaming industry, like increased production costs and the dominance of digital distribution platforms, will give rise to an increasing number of disputes, in particular over intellectual property rights. What could trigger these disputes and how can they be prevented?
Within the EU, web-blocking injunctions have become an increasingly prevalent mechanism utilized by copyright holders to protect against the unauthorized use of their copyrighted materials online. Recently extended to protect trademark rights, these injunctions are heralded by rights holders within the music, film, and luxury goods industries, as an incredibly effective method in protecting copyrighted/trademarked material from online infringement. However, these injunctions should be considered a weapon of last resort in fighting online infringement, rather than a standard tool of enforcing intellectual property rights (IPRs). Implementing these injunctions or filtering mechanisms should be done so sparingly, as their increased use endangers fundamental civil liberties such as free speech and due process.
In my last post I examined whether artificial intelligence could be regarded as an “author” for purposes of copyright law. This topic is intriguing, but we must remember that AI can not only create works that at least theoretically can be covered by copyright protection, but it can also infringe copyrights held by others when creating its own works. There are already algorithms that can mimic a certain style of painting or a specific author. In the face of technology enabling anyone with access to it to produce their own “masterpiece by a famous painter,” it is worth considering whether AI can be held responsible for copyright infringement, and if not, who can?
It is easy to break copyright law when using torrents. Nonetheless, if a demand for payment arrives requesting discretionary amends for harm caused by distributing, say, a film without a licence, it must be read carefully and checked whether its sender is actually the rights holder, or just someone making a living from sending such letters.