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Study on Copyright Infringement in the Video Game Industry Published

Foto: Mishin

A new study on copyright infringement in the video game industry was presented within the fifteenth session of the Advisory Committee on Enforcement at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), held in the period from 31 August until 2 September 2022. The study is originally titled “Copyright Infringement in the Video Game Industry”, prepared by Dr. Gaetano Dimita (Queen Mary University of London), Dr. Yin Harn Lee (University of Bristol) and Dr. Michaela Macdonald (Queen Mary University of London).

The study presents specific features of the video game industry, analyses copyright infringements on video games providing an account of individual court cases and strategies for the protection of rights against infringements specific to this industry.

The video game industry is new, highly innovative, interactive industry and one of the most successful creative industries today. The data on page 9 of the study show that, in 2020, the video game industry generated revenues of approximately USD 178 billion worldwide, exceeding that generated by the film, book publishing and music industries. It is estimated that video games are played by some 3 billion people throughout the world.

Video games have historically been sold as physical products (recorded on data carriers); in recent years, however, physical sales have been significantly displaced by digital distribution channels. Video games can be played on consoles, personal computers and mobile devices.

In time, both the ways of using the games and business models in this industry have been changing. A video game itself is a complex, digital multimedia product, and the creation, distribution and use of video games are based on intellectual property rights. A number of various authors can participate in the creation of a video game –author of graphics, designer, animator, music composer, writer and author of the software. In addition to the authors, development engineers, publishers, distributors, platform owners and the players themselves participate in the business project of a video game – all on a global level.

Video games are accompanied by complex contracts as well, and the principal legal instruments governing the relationship between video game right holders and their players are: End-user license agreements and Terms of Service.

The companies dealing with video game development accept all the more different models of distribution and return of investment, particularly by integrating new media to use video games.

Nevertheless, the legal nature of video games on the international level has not been fully clarified yet. The states provide different definitions of video games in their national regulations, and an additional obstacle is in particular posed by different national regulation of issues regarding content restrictions and exceptions to copyright.

Small and medium-sized enterprises, video game producers in this case, are not acquainted enough in some cases with the issues of intellectual property protection, and they often lack resources for the enforcement of rights against infringement (it is necessary to know the law of the country in which the right was infringed and to initiate proceedings before the competent courts of the country in which the right was infringed).

The study provides an overview of enforcement strategies in the video game industry (protection of right against infringement) and identifies areas of high risk. The study encompasses uses and practices with regard to video games that may give rise to copyright infringement and that are somewhat distinct from potentially infringing activities concerning other copyright-protected works. Furthermore, the study provides attitudes and recommendations as to resolution of these issues.

The entire study is available under the document label WIPO/ACE/15/4 and accessible here.


Datum novosti: 16/09/2022