Video game battle on rights and gambling ban in Albania

GamingLawPills brings news on the emerging legal battle over video game exploitation rights and on the sports betting and gambling ban in Albania.

The video game industry faces the battle on rights

Advertisers, consumers, brands, investors, and athletes are congregating around streaming video game content, competing for the revenue it generates.

Modern interactive online video games –  which include tools for developing new elements of a game – are creating a new category of authors whose legal status remains generally unclear. Open questions also relate on the rights of developers and authors on advertising revenues generated by users of gaming platforms who posted on-line matches or gameplays. What is happening is that the video gaming industry is moving towards self-regulation because of:

  1. the lack of harmonization of applicable laws;
  2. gaps in national laws; and
  3. the inability of national laws to keep pace with recent developments.

Relationships between video game producers and authors as well as independent contributors and players  are often regulated by contractual arrangements that do not always guarantee a fair balance in terms of how creators are remunerated and in terms of shares in the revenue generated from the commercial exploitation of their works.

On a legislative side, the majority of jurisdictions tend to protect video games’ works of authorship as software. This is because the only common element of every video game is its underlying computer program. On the contrary, some authors believe that video games are still complex creations composed by literary, graphics and sound copyrighted works.

At the international level, although the existence of the TRIPS Agreements and the WIPO Copyright Treaty that include references to software and audio visual works, multilateral treaties provide limited specific guidance regarding the protection of video games. Considering that video games are mostly developed by medium to large sized companies, a discussion on the legal regime of video games should address the role that these entities play and the rights they require to obtain in this process. Given the relevant amount of investments to create the work (i.e. the video game), they are indeed strongly committed to keep all the exploitation rights in their resulting work.

In this respect, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization, the protection of video games can be achieved by establishing a presumption of transfers of rights in favour of video game producers, unless agreed otherwise via contract.

You may find interesting on the same topic my previous article on “Copyright in the eSports digital era“.

Albania passes law banning online gambling and sports betting

Albania’s parliament voted in favor of a plan to ban sports betting and other forms of gambling online with effect from the 1 January 2019. More specifically, the Albanian government’s intention is to force the closure of slots halls and betting shops from residential areas and gaming operations will be restricted to designated tourist areas, as well as on the outskirts of towns and cities.

Representatives of local sports betting companies underlined that gambling is a completely privately-run industry in Albania where it officially generates more than € 130 million in annual income and employs some 7,000 people. Also, from unofficial statements, some representatives of the gambling industry offered to stop advertising and close half of the country’s betting shops in an effort to avert a total ban, claiming that they would fight the prohibition and seek compensation.

The new legal changes do not apply to some specific areas. It will be still allowed gambling at casinos, on television bingo games and on national lotteries who operate on the basis of an ongoing licenses previously obtained.

You may find interesting on a similar topic the article “Italian gambling advertising ban in place and now?“.

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Vincenzo Giuffré

Trainee Lawyer at DLA Piper IPT Italy, Milan| Graduated Student at Bocconi University: Major Business Law School | Exchange Program at University of Minnesota - W. Mondale Law School | Visiting Student at National University of Singapore (NUS)

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