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Where videogames meet the law – in 140 characters – Part 2

By on September 29, 2009

The afternoon’s tweets from IBC’s “Protecting & Exploiting Content in Video Games”. Many of these (but not all of them) were tweeted, as I suddenly got access to the web.

  • Games industry gets 35% of revenues from digital downloads, compared with 20% for music industry. Surprising.


  • Ambulance-chasing "forensic investigators" exist who get a %age of damages when they target pirates for copyright owners


  • Games may be heading nearer the movie model where you need to get clearance for all the incidental images in the game (e.g. if you set a game in Bahrain, do the individual buildings have their own IP rights?)


  • Universal Music says licensing revenue from games now exceeds that to films, and is only behind licensing to advertising

  • Lawyers amazed that people think laws don’t apply in virtual worlds; real world laws re contract, tort and crime apply


  • Debate in Second Life centres on whether items sold are goods or services; perhaps they’re more like financial instruments (e.g. shares or bonds)


  • In Second Life, shops have salespeople. Employment relationship? If you hire an illegal immigrant, are you a criminal?


  • Tax authorities have concluded virtual income should be taxed. Key Q is when:  earning, in-game transaction or cashout?


  • Marvel largely failed to enforce its claim against City of Heroes because the court decided primary motivation of the users who created infringing content wasn’t commerce


Speakers were Paul Groves (Harbottle Lewis), Seth Krauss (Take Two), Brian Miller (, David Cran (Reynolds Porter Chamberlain) and David Naylor (Field Fisher Waterhouse). The event was chaired by Paul Gardner of Osborne Clarke.

Thanks to IBC for arranging Protecting & Exploiting Content in Video Games.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: