Top 5 takeaways from the Games Industry Law Summit

Significant insights came out from the discussions on the present and future of video gaming law at the Games Law Industry Summit in Vilnius. Read the rest of this entry »

First GDPR fine issued in Italy

The first GDPR fine was issued in Italy by the Garante for the lack of implementation of privacy security measures following a data breach on the so-called Rousseau platform operating the websites of the Movimento 5 Stelle party. Read the rest of this entry »

Video Gaming: new regulations on age rating systems in Italy

by Giacomo Lusardi and Alessandro Ferrari

The Italian Communication Authority (AGCOM) recently adopted a regulation on the age rating of audiovisual works on the internet and videogames (the “Regulation“).

The new rating system aims at ensuring the right balance between the protection of minors on the one hand, and the freedom of expression and art on the other hand. The Regulation was drafted in compliance with international standards and best practices, such as the most widespread rating systems, among which the PEGI (Pan European Game Information) that is accepted in most European countries.

In this article we focus on the new videogame age rating system.

First of all, the Regulation provides that videogames may not be made available on networks or electronic communications services without complying with the new rating system, which is based on two main criteria: age group and thematic descriptors.

As for the age group criterion, the Regulation provides for six different age groups (suitable for all age groups; 4-6 years old and over; 7 years old and over; 12 years old and over; 16 years old and over; 18 years old and over), unlike the PEGI rating system that only provides for five age groups (3 years old and over; 7 years old and over; 12 years old and over; 16 years old and over; 18 years old and over). The AGCOM justified the further 4-6 years old age group on grounds of the peculiar attractive force that videogames have on children in terms of engagement and direct involvement. Each age group is paired to a specific circular pictogram distinguishing all the age groups through different colours.

The thematic descriptors require videogames to be identified according to their content, that has to be depicted by means of the following pictograms:

– foul language > a comic containing the symbols “@*!”;

– discrimination and hate speech > picture of three human figures where the one in the centre is smaller in size and darker in colour;

– drugs > picture of a syringe in an oblique position, ready to be used;

– fear (children could get scared by the videogame) > silhouette of a spider;

– gambling > picture of two dice;

– sex > picture of the male and female chromosomes, one jointed to the other;

– violence > picture of a fist on the background of a broken line;

– purchases in the game > picture of a hand making a payment by credit card.

Pursuant to the Regulation, pictograms related to age groups and thematic descriptors are to be displayed on hard copies and digital copies of the videogames, as well as in the context of their online promotion and selling.

Within ninety days from the publication of the new Regulation on the AGCOM website (12 April 2019), AGCOM will adopt a set of guidelines specifying in detail the content of the thematic descriptors for each age group, the Regulation implementing rules, and the criteria establishing the equivalence between the Regulation’s rating system and the PEGI rating system in order to avoid overlaps between the two systems. Proposals for the guidelines will be developed by a technical committee composed by media and hosting service providers, content and videogame producers, representatives of the institutions, associations for the protection of minors, and PEGI.

The new Regulation is already into force since 13 April 2019 and any infringement thereof could be subject to fines from Eur 25,000 up to Eur 350,000.

We will no doubt update you once the guidelines are published.

Contact us, Giacomo Lusardi and Alessandro Ferrari, if you want more information on these issues.

DLA Piper eSports law booklet

The eSports market has grown at a tremendous pace over the past few years becoming a half billion dollar industry and it is quickly seducing an increasing number of fans, operators and investors. Beside the huge growth, the industry is rapidly evolving, going from content consumed largely through streaming platforms to network-backed streaming services.

Read the rest of this entry »

How to deal with the protection of minors in eSports

by Cristina Criscuoli, Elisa Rosati, Micaela Jerusalmi

How shall the eSports market deal with the protection of minors? What measures shall be adopted to protect investments and avoid risks?

The eSports market is rapidly growing and is quickly seducing an increasing number of fans. The growth of interest towards this charming world is also witnessed by the fact that the International Olympic Committee has recently considered to include eSports at the Olympic Games of 2024.

A great number of eSports fans – both among players and audience – is made up of minors. Just think about Dominique “SonicFox” McLean, only 16 years old, who won his first prize becoming champion of “Injustice: Gods Among Us” at the Evolution Championship Series (EVO), one of the most renowned competition in eSports.

The involvement of such a vast number of minors in eSports clearly raises some legal issues due to the need of ensuring a strong protection for them.

Below is an outline from the Italian law perspective of the situation concerning the protection of minors in eSports. In particular, we believe that two aspects should mainly be considered: contractual relationships involving young players and data protection issues. Read the rest of this entry »

Video: Blockchain legal predictions for 2019

In this video Elisa Rosati and Tommaso Ricci analyze the Blockchain legal and business challenges for 2019. This year will be crucial for the blockchain since the Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) is ready to overcome the risks linked to the fluctuation of the cryptocurrencies and to prove its compatibility with the new standards of  Data Protection introduced by GDPR finding the right balance between scalability and security.

For a more in-depth analysis please read our post Top 3 Blockchain predictions for 2019


The concept of eDoping in eSports – cyber security as a safety measure, enforcement and sanctions in case of non-compliance

by Giulia Zappaterra, Ludovica Mosci & Deborah Paracchini 

How to limit the risk of eDoping and avoid potential sanctions and enforcements in eSports? What solutions shall be adopted in terms of cybersecurity?

The eSports market has grown at a tremendous pace over the past few years becoming a half billion dollar industry. Competition between players is at the highest levels and marginal gains can make the difference between winning and losing. Cheating is therefore a high temptation for many players.

Some of such players are going for “eDoping”. This is not the classic doping to strengthen physical and concentrations potential, but it refers to the fixing of the machines used for the tournaments.

Read the rest of this entry »

Innovation meet-up – Blockchain e smart-contract oltre gli slogan: una success story nel trade finance

I recenti sviluppi normativi sulla blockchain creano opportunità che discuteremo nell’ambito dell’Innovation meet-up organizzato da DLA Piper con AlixPartners e il 12 aprile 2019. Read the rest of this entry »

Blockchain: the real fuel for eSports

By Alessandro Ferrari and Tommaso Ricci

The eSports industry has undergone a massive growth in the recent years hitting a record market revenue of almost $1 billion. Blockchain technology could foster even more the huge market growth building trust, adding transparency and introducing new business models. Here is a brief overview of its applications and legal challenges. Read the rest of this entry »

eSports and Copyright between choreographies and UGC

by Roberto Valenti and Tommaso Fia

There are a number of copyright issues related to the choreography of an eSports game. In these days the first (and most important) regards the protection of choreographic elements (i.e. a dance) which could appear in videogames. In Europe and in the USA, a choreographic work is protected by copyright. This is why an extended series of dances moves that is original to its creator can be protected by copyright. The above explains the law suits recently filed in the USA at the end of 2018 by several individuals in connection with famous Fortnite videogame.

If you are not familiar with Fortnite, players can buy (or earn) emotes, short avatar animations who can replicate generic acrobatic moves and dances. The Fortnite Loser Dance (so called L Dance) become famous thanks to the French soccer player Griezmann, who used this theme after scoring in the last World Cup 2018 final against Croatia.

Now, as mentioned there are several individuals in the USA who claim they have invented dances moves (including the L dance), and therefore sued for copyright infringement.

Under copyright law, there are at least two relevant issues with regard to the protection of choreographic elements.

The first is originality, i.e. that work shall be the expression of the personality of the author and shall not be copied from other works. In this regard, the dance moves shall be complicated enough, and differentiated enough from social dance steps and simple routines to get copyright protection.

The second is the fixation requirement, i.e. a dance is not protected until it is recorded in a tangible form.

Copyright issues in videogames, in particular online multi-user ones, are not limited to dance moves.

On a different matter, many people talk about “User Generated Content” (“UGC“), but they usually do not know exactly what it means. Indeed, it refers to a broad range of applications, such as social media, news, videogames, TV programs, and its meaning may change depending on the effective field involved. The common link in these applications is that UGC encompasses any content, such as pictures, videos, text, and audio, that have been created and proactively posted by users.

In some videogames, unlike other types of creative works, users are nudged to express their own creativity. For instance, some developers design interfaces that allow players to elaborate a set of “in-game works”: e.g., avatars, narratives, in-game objects, new environments, and animation sequences.

The more players are given the opportunity to create and interact, the more the UGC will likely to be considered a creative work protectable under copyright law, probably being encompassed amongst the so-called derivative works. Nonetheless, license agreements of videogames, by regulating the contractual relation between the players-UGC authors, and the right-holders of the videogames, always allocate all (or most of) the intellectual property rights over the videogames to the publishers and the developers. This also because a fragmentation of the rights of all players would entail problems when their creations are exploited centrally.

These problems certainly make the existing legal framework rather obsolete, since the existing copyright provisions hardly suit to these new contexts. For this reason, regulators should take into account this matter and seriously consider the creation of a sui generis right for players intending to publish and exploit their UGC.

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