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.

Loot boxes and its regulatory implications

Loot box regulation is a hot topic in a variety of regions. The attention over loot boxes began when a number of video games started to incorporate gaming micro-transactions for chance-based items within the game.

Previously, video games were sold as a stand-alone product and the interaction between players and the developers of the game existed only and to the extent players would have bought a sequel or an expansion pack of the video game.

But, with the rise of online gaming, players are no more interested in time-consuming games that contain just one milestone, mission or storyline. As a result, developers:

  • create formats of video games where players are constantly engaged also through a real-time competition between players; and
  • enable players to purchase randomly assigned items (the so called “loot boxes“) in video games through in-game currency that can often be either purchased with real money or earned through game-play.

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Top 5 takeaways from DLA Piper event on Italian privacy dawn raids

Italian privacy dawn raids are a hot topic and being prepared to them is crucial, especially given the potential fines provided by the GDPR. Here are the main takeaways from our event on the matter. Read the rest of this entry »

How do you spell e-Stadium?

by Gualtiero Dragotti

The majority of legal analysis concerning the raise of e-Sports tends to coagulate around the main stakeholders, i.e. the IP owners, the broadcasters, the sponsors and the e-athletes and teams, focusing on the appropriate way to discipline their relationships, possibly against a regulated background capable of dealing with gambling, e-doping and, more generally, with the requirements and rules set by laws, sport authorities and similar bodies.

There is however a missing piece in this picture: the audience, i.e. the increasing crowd interested to see the e-games, possibly attending live events, with the opportunity to meet their idols and see them play live.

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eSports between Italian prize promotion and gambling rules

eSports tournaments can be subject to stringent restrictions under Italian prize promotion and gambling rules if adequate solutions are not adopted.  Read the rest of this entry »

Blockchain based smart contracts equal to written document in Italy

The growth of usage of blockchain based smart contracts in Italy might be boosted by a new law which deemed them equal to written documents in some cases. Read the rest of this entry »

Milan Fashion Week and Fashion Law Trends – The never-ending saga of cultural appropriation in fashion

By Francesca Romana Ferrucci, Fulvia Cosattini and Chiara Perotti

Over the last years we have witnessed extensive disapproval of the fashion world when dealing with collections or campaigns inspired by different cultures. As a fact, criticism on alleged cases of cultural appropriation has been rising to the stars throughout the years and does not seem to come to an end. Read the rest of this entry »

Milan Fashion Week and Fashion Law Trends − New brand identity in the fashion industry: is the “sans-serification” the right move? 

In recent months many fashion companies have been restyling their brands by simplifying and minimizing their visual impact: big fashion industries are dropping unique fonts, words and design features − which until now have significantly contributed to differentiate their brands from their competitors’ ­− in favor of most popular and common fonts, such as sans-serif.

“Less is more”, we may say.

But, talking about trademarks and distinctiveness, will this choice towards simplification be the right approach? In fact, in a few years’ time we will deal with logos that will all look remarkably alike.

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Milan Fashion Week and Fashion Law Trends – Lil Miquela, Shudu, Bermuda and Sophia The Robot: CGI and Robot IT Girls Who Will Become the Influencers of the Future

By Deborah Paracchini and Giulia Zappaterra 

There is a new crop of influencersin town and – read carefully – they are not real people.

Virtual influencers – influencers who are not human, but rather are CGI creations or robots – are the latest trend on social media. CGI stands for “computer-generated imagery” and it is a technology that creates pictures through the use of computers, now applied to create the new trend of virtual – but realistic – Instagram influencers and models.

In particular, the top 4 leading the group are Miquela Sousa, Bermuda, Shudu and Sophia the Robot.

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Use of excerpts of videogames and eSports competitions without the right holder’s consent: is it fair use (or the Princess is in another castle)?

Publications sharing tips on how to complete videogames and maximise bonuses might increase with the expansion of the eSport competitions. The same applies to platforms streaming videogames alone or together with eSport actions of the various players. Yet are these activities possible without the right holders’ consent? Read the rest of this entry »

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