eSports Player Contracts: Should Pro Gamers be treated like Pro Athletes? ...

European employment laws have a justified reputation of being very protective of employees, with permanent full-time employment as the statutory ideal. Most employers cannot simply “hire and fire”, and justifications are required in order to enter into fixed-term contracts beyond certain permitted periods (e.g. two years in Germany). But what if the duties of an […]

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Data Protection Cheat Sheet: Controller Obligations under GDPR

The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will enter into force on 25 May 2018, and will greatly expand the scope of application of European privacy law to companies based elsewhere but with customers in the EU. Do you know your new responsibilities as a controller of EU personal data? Relax, our handy cheat sheet […]

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Swastikas and censorship? A legal take on the Wolfenstein 2 debate in Germ...

The release of Wolfenstein 2 has sparked a heated debate in Germany on the country’s factual ban of swastikas in video games, perceived as being counterproductive in a game depicting the fight against Nazis. Any references to National Socialism have been purged in the localized version: The opponent is called the “regime”, swastikas are banned […]

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eSports Player Contracts: Should Pro Gamers be treated like Pro Athletes?  
February 20, 2018
European employment laws have a justified reputation of being very protective of employees, with permanent full-time employment as the statutory ideal. Most employers cannot simply “hire and fire”, and justifications are required in order to enter into fixed-term contracts beyond certain permitted periods (e.g. two years in Germany). But what if the duties of an employee are so specific that they will only be able to perform them for a short time period? Read more
Data Protection Cheat Sheet: Controller Obligations under GDPR
February 1, 2018
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will enter into force on 25 May 2018, and will greatly expand the scope of application of European privacy law to companies based elsewhere but with customers in the EU. Do you know your new responsibilities as a controller of EU personal data? Relax, our handy cheat sheet has you covered…!
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Swastikas and censorship? A legal take on the Wolfenstein 2 debate in Germany
January 9, 2018
The release of Wolfenstein 2 has sparked a heated debate in Germany on the country’s factual ban of swastikas in video games, perceived as being counterproductive in a game depicting the fight against Nazis. Any references to National Socialism have been purged in the localized version: The opponent is called the “regime”, swastikas are banned entirely and instead of Hitler gamers meet “Mr. Heiler”, stripped of the characteristic moustache.

These significant changes to the core of Wolfenstein’s game aesthetics and message are the result of a legal development that began with a court decision against the game’s pre-pre-predecessor “Wolfenstein 3D” back in 1998. An opportunity for us to shed light on the legal background of this situation, which has also led to costly product recalls in the past. Read more

Website blocking: Efficient means of combating online piracy in the EU?
January 4, 2018
Stopping commercial copyright infringements on the internet is often difficult. Only rarely can the operators of such offers be identified, even taking hold of the hosting providers regularly fails. Thus, as a last resort, access providers can be compelled to block users from accessing websites offering illegal content.

Such a procedure is not an automatic process; EU and German law impose considerable legal obstacles to website blocking. First and foremost, right holders must try to hold the operator or the host provider responsible. However, if the action against these other participants fails or is past hope, affected right holders can obtain blocking orders against access providers. Read more

Briefly noted: Germany introduces transparency register to fight money laundering
November 16, 2017
The German legislator has recently amended the Anti-Money Laundering Act, implementing European rules to more effectively prevent money laundering and terrorist financing.

One important new feature of the Act is the introduction of a national central transparency register, showing which natural person(s) stand behind certain legal entities as their beneficial owner, to the extent this information is not already electronically retrievable from other German public registers, such as the commercial register.

The new verification and registration obligations apply for all private legal entities and registered partnerships and, thus, nearly all legal forms, as well as foundations, and legal arrangements similar to trusts to the extent that the administrator’s or trustee’s residence or registered office is in Germany. Violations may penalized since 1 October 2017 with fines of up to EUR 1,000,000.

More details can be found in a brief fact sheet (available here) compiled by our colleague Fabian Christoph, who is also happy to answer any further questions on this topic.

EU: Prohibition on payment surcharges starting January 2018
September 20, 2017
With the adoption of the revised Directive on Payment Services (PSD2), the EU has essentially banned surcharges for using specific payment methods. Currently, national legislators are implementing the regulation. As of January 13, 2018, most provisions stipulating additional fees for payments by bank transfer, direct debit or debit/credit card will be prohibited. Read more
Implementing decrees for e-sport competitions in France
September 12, 2017
Bearing in mind the huge economic and legal impacts of e-sport (representing a worldwide market of around 600 millions of dollars with a growth rate of 30% per year according to a report by French MPs dated March 2016[1]), it is not surprising that various countries try to regulate the e-sport business. Since the Digital Republic Act in last October, e-sports competitions have a legal framework in France. Following this Act, two implementing decrees were adopted on 9 May 2017, clarifying the new framework. Read more
Germany: New Draft of Guidance on Withholding Tax in the Context of Software Licensing
September 5, 2017
On 17 May 2017, the German Ministry of Finance released a draft circular aimed at resolving the on-going debate on the application of withholding tax in the context of software and database licensing from foreign entities to German licensees.

Game developers but also publishers outside of Germany grapple with this issue when they use German publishing partners or even their own German subsidiaries to distribute games on a royalty basis, which may be subject to withholding tax.

The new insights gained after an analysis of the new draft circular are crucial to every foreign entity licensing software or databases to or distributing them through German customers or business partners. While the draft does clarify that in many cases, distribution of games is not subject to withholding tax, it suggests that digital distribution may or may not be subject to withholding tax depending on details of the distribution model. It has to be noted that this guidance is still a draft and not yet in force due to the on-going discussion regarding this subject. Read more

EU Legislation Watch: New Rules for Consumer Contracts under the Digital Content Directive
August 29, 2017
As part of the Digital Single Market initiative, European legislators are in the final stages of implementing a new Directive that will fundamentally change the contractual regime for selling digital content to European consumers. In particular, the new instrument will introduce the concept of “payment by data”, mandate portability of user account contents upon termination, and introduce significant statutory warranties. The scope of this directive is broad, and it will affect all online and mobile games providers selling to European customers. Read more
Games Lawyers: Join Us @ Video Game Bar Association Euro Summit
July 17, 2017
Attention games lawyers: For the third time, the Video Game Bar Association is putting on the one-day Euro Summit as a part of gamescom congress.

  • When: Wednesday, 23 August 2017, 11:45 AM to 5:00 PM (+ drinks afterwards)
  • Where: Congress-Centrum Nord, Cologne (directly at gamescom)
  • Cost: You (only) need a gamescom congress ticket, starting at EUR 59.
  • Register here – the registration also takes you to the ticket purchase website.

For this year’s edition, we have tweaked the format a little bit to add more in-depth knowledge sharing through individual keynotes alongside the traditional panel discussions.

We are particularly excited about our special guest, Parliamentary State Secretary Ulrich Kelber, who will be speaking about the EU’s Digital Single Market initiative and the proposed Digital Content Directive. Other topics include privacy and eSports.

For more details on the schedule, to register, and to see who else is coming, you can visit the conference website here.

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