Main takeaways from the 6th Games Industry Law Summit 2021

Significant insights came out from the discussions on video gaming regulations at the Games Law Industry Summit in Vilnius

Another great edition of the Games Industry Law Summit has ended and it was great to catch up with familiar faces navigating the cutting edge legal issues in the industry

In this post, I summarize the most interesting takeaways from the Games Industry Law Summit:

Licensing music rights in videogames

Video games have been using licensed music in their soundtracks since the 80s.  The relationship between the two industries is mutually beneficial: developers can license popular music to make their games appeal to certain audiences, while musicians benefit from instantaneous exposure to millions of new listeners (and usually a lot of money).  It’s a healthy relationship, but like all relationships, it isn’t without problems.  When developers want to feature music by bands and artists in their game, a licensing deal needs to be made.  These deals can be very complicated due to a variety of reasons, from the length of the licensing agreement to future releases of video games affecting the original contract.

On a similar topic, you may find interesting “Esports IP rights license agreements among publishers, clubs and sports leagues“.

New EU laws impacting the industry and the ‘New Deal’ for Consumers which will be implemented shortly

About two years ago, the Copyright in the Digital Single Market (CDSM) Directive was adopted, obliging European Union Member States to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive by 7 June 2021.  And we took a look at the progress of Member States, and at some of the policy choices, they have made.

As of 1 July 2021, Italy, like the other Member States, will adopt the provisions to comply with: a Directive (EU) 770/2019 on certain aspects concerning contracts for the supply of digital content and digital services; b Directive (EU) 771/2019 on certain aspects concerning contracts for the sale of goods.  New requirements of conformity of the digital content/service, both subjective (e.g. the provision of all accessories, instructions – including on installation -, and customer assistance as required by the contract) and objective (e.g. the suitability for the purposes for which digital content/services of the same type would normally be used) are introduced.  The burden of proof with regard to whether the digital content/service was supplied in accordance with the requirements of conformity described above shall be on the trader.

Also, EU member states must implement, before the end of 2021, the Directive (EU) 2019/2161 (informally referred to as the Omnibus Directive), aimed at boosting consumer protection laws and modernizing e-commerce and digital content regulations as a result of the “New Deal for Consumers” initiative, adopted by the EU Commission on April 11, 2018.

On the same topic, you can read the article “Significant changes to consumer law are on the way: what companies need to know.

M&A transactions in videogames’ sector are becoming profitable

Mergers and acquisitions in the gaming industry are often worth billions and create lots of buzzes. The game business has boomed in just about every sector during the pandemic, from mobile to PC, though some esports organizations were hit financially by the loss early on of live events that were a crucial part of their business models.

In some countries eSports face regulatory restrictions that are mainly due to local gambling and/or sports-related regulations. While some jurisdictions would welcome the expansion of sports laws, others are concerned about the applicability of a restrictive regime that might slow down the growth of the industry.

There are countries like Italy where significant opportunities came up for international online eSports tournaments which were previously prohibited, while the regulatory framework for land-based tournaments still needs to be defined.

On the topic, you may find interesting the 2nd edition of the Esports Laws of the World Report which addresses legal challenges on  of all the laws affecting esports worldwide,

Player protections represent a priority in all the major jurisdictions

Transparency of the terms of use and information provided to players, of the applicable charges and their conditions, and the adoption of tools aimed at protecting players from video gaming addiction are a priority in several jurisdictions.

There are countries like Korea where video gaming regulations are incredibly advanced, but local authorities have started investigations on loot boxes and information provided to players in many European countries and the US, also challenging specific clauses of terms and conditions under both consumer protection and privacy regulations.

The Games Industry Law Summit was an exciting event with great participants, and special thanks go to Sergei and Alma for the fantastic organization! Looking forward to the 2022 edition!

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Vincenzo Giuffré

Lawyer at DLA Piper IPT Italy, Milan| Gambling and Gaming Sector| eSports, Media, Sports and Entertainment | Bocconi University | University of Minnesota - W. Mondale Law School | Visiting Student at National University of Singapore (NUS)

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