Posted on Categories creative industry

Legal aspects of the video game industry 2.0

Interest in the game development industry is not diminishing. The upward trend has been consistent for several years, and 2021 is sure to bring a further increase. Forecasts indicate that in 2023 the value of the game market will exceed USD 200 billion.

The Warsaw Stock Exchange has strengthened its position as the world leader in the number of listed companies from the game development industry, even ahead of the stock exchanges in Japan and South Korea. The game market is becoming an increasingly promising area for investors, which can be seen in both the number and value of transactions. The segments of mobile games, distribution under a subscription model, and cloud gaming are gaining. At the same time, with so many titles available on the market, game marketing becomes more difficult and skilful community-building around a specific title becomes vital.

Recognising the importance of the game industry, last year we published the report “Law for game development,” which deals with specific legal issues in the production and publication of games. However, new legal challenges are emerging that must be faced by all stakeholders in the broader game industry. Therefore, we are starting another series of publications in which we will touch upon, among other topics, intellectual property law, labour law, personal data, and less-obvious aspects of criminal or regulatory law. We will also devote a lot of space to commercial issues that can be useful for game developers and investors alike.

Continue reading “Legal aspects of the video game industry 2.0”
Posted on Categories creative industry

Likenesses in computer games: Real-life people

Sometimes, a character in a game evokes an association with a real person. This similarity may be intentional or accidental. To ensure they are on solid legal ground, game developers should obtain the consent of the actual person to use his or her image. Failure to do so can result in severe consequences. In this text, we will discuss the rules for using likenesses of real, living people.

What is a likeness?

A person’s likeness refers to someone’s image, recorded for example in a drawing, painting or photograph, as well as the way a person is perceived and portrayed. Contrary to popular belief, likeness does not refer only to an image of a person’s face. It encompasses a range of personal characteristics, including natural features (e.g. eye shape), elements of characterisation or clothing (e.g. glasses, hairstyle, makeup, accessories), and even voice, deportment, behaviour, gestures or characteristic sayings. Thus, the likeness of a person is constructed of his or her recognisable features, by which we distinguish this person from others. Do you recognise the people pictured below? Just in case, the answer is given in the footnote1.

Continue reading “Likenesses in computer games: Real-life people”
Posted on Categories creative industry

Protection of video games: Industrial design, patent, or trade secret?

When the concept for a video game takes shape, and an unprotected idea becomes a protected form of expression, the developer can consider how best to protect the game or elements of the game against copying by competitors. When thinking about legal protection of a video game, it is natural to refer to copyright law. But that is not the only potential source of protection. It is worth examining whether and to what extent elements of the game can be protected through industrial designs, patents, or perhaps trade secrets.

Continue reading “Protection of video games: Industrial design, patent, or trade secret?”
Posted on Categories creative industry

I have an idea for a video game. How can I protect it?

This is one of the most often asked questions. The answer is difficult and equivocal. On one hand, a good idea is half the way to success. On the other hand, ideas are regarded as free and should not be monopolised, but a specific manner or form of expression of an idea can be the subject of copyright protection. However, drawing the line between an unprotected idea and a protected manner of expression is a difficult challenge that depends on the specific factual circumstances. First it must be determined what can be protected in a computer game, and then how these elements can best be protected.

Continue reading “I have an idea for a video game. How can I protect it?”
Posted on Categories creative industry

Fundamental issues a game developer should pay attention to when negotiating a contract for publication of a video game

Contracts for publication of video games are concluded between game developers and companies specialising in publishing games (sometimes referred to “dev-publisher agreements”).

Just a few years ago, the word in the video game industry was that the role of publishers in the process of commercialising new games was on the way out, and the future of the industry was in self-publishing of games by developers. But publishers have not gone away, and still represent a hugely important element of the operation of the entire industry. For game developers, contracts with publishers are one of their key business relationships. The publisher typically provides not only services and knowhow in marketing and distribution of games, but also serves as a fundamental source for financing game development.

So as a developer, it is vital to consider the nature of cooperation with a publisher, and first and foremost what to pay attention to when negotiating the contract with the publisher.

Continue reading “Fundamental issues a game developer should pay attention to when negotiating a contract for publication of a video game”