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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Website blocking: Efficient means of combating online piracy in the EU?

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; […]

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Briefly noted: Germany introduces transparency register to fight money lau...

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 […]

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Do You Have A Youth Protection Officer? – Germany Revamps Youth Protection Rules
March 8, 2017
After 13 years of stasis despite massive technological progress, the first revision of the State Treaty on Youth Protection in the Media (sometimes also referred to as Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors (JMStV)) in October of 2016 represents an effort by German state legislators to adapt their jointly enacted youth protection regulations to the ever-changing realities of digital environments.

These changes come at a time when traditional age rating standards are shifting. Over the past few years, a number of hitherto “indexed” games (subject to heavy marketing restrictions) have been re-rated, and it has been possible in a number of cases to obtain age-ratings for sequels to “indexed” games, even though their content was similar. Read more

Clarifications on Withdrawal Right Expected in German Consumer Law
March 1, 2017
Since the implementation of the EU Consumer Rights Directive in 2014, Consumers across the EU have a new statutory withdrawal right in contracts for the purchase of „digital content“. Unlike in other types of agreements, it is possible for content providers to obtain a waiver of this right prior to delivering the content – but some crucial details are not yet very clear. Some initial case law suggests that operators of mobile and online games need to very carefully structure their purchase processes if they want to invoke a consumer’s waiver under German law – and consumer groups are ever vigilant and keen to take legal action against any breaches. Read more
In a Nutshell: New Data Protection Regulation in the EU
February 27, 2017
The long-awaited General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect on 25 May 2018.

The GDPR constitutes the biggest change to the data protection regime in the EU since the 1995 Data Protection Directive, and introduces fundamental changes, including:

  • harmonisation and further development of data protection regimes across the EU;
  • extension of the regime to apply to non-EU businesses that operate in the EU (in line with EU e-commerce and consumer laws); and
  • potential for businesses to be fined EUR 20 million or up to 4% of their worldwide turnover for serious violations of the GDPR

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Privacy Policies for Apps: This is how it’s done!
February 15, 2017
Google is currently taking action against apps violating the Play Store’s User Data Policy. As The Next Web reports, in most cases apps are missing the required privacy policy. Developers are prompted to resolve the issues by March 15, 2017. Otherwise, the company has announced it will limit the visibility of concerned apps in the store or even remove violating apps completely.

Data privacy and apps is a topic that often leads to insecurities for developers and publishers entering the German and EU markets, and we’d like to take this opportunity to give an overview on how you can prevent Google from sanctioning your titles, and more generally what app developers and publishers have to consider regarding privacy policies in Germany and the EU. Read more

Virtual currencies, eSports and social gaming: a fresh look at the boundaries between gaming and gambling in the UK
February 11, 2017
A small but increasing number of games are based on, or incorporate, mechanics that have an appearance of gambling.  For example, some social games consist of a gambling style game, such as roulette; some PC and console games may contain mini gambling style games that are a small ancillary element within that game, such as a gaming machine within a building in the game.

This can give rise to a possibility that the game falls within the definition of gambling in the Gambling Act 2005 (GA 2005).  Under the GA 2005, providing facilities for gambling without a licence (or applicable exemption) is a criminal offence.

Commercial gambling in Great Britain is regulated by the Gambling Commission, an organisation that was established under the GA 2005.  Unsurprisingly, the Gambling Commission has been paying increasingly close attention to games.

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New Regulation for “Loot Boxes” in China – International Impact for all Online Games?
February 2, 2017
Over the last few weeks, a new regulation initiative from China has globally caught the attention of the games community: The Chinese Ministry of Culture recently published a new regulation that imposes an obligation on publishers to disclose certain detailed information about in-game items which the gamer can receive or purchase in the game – including the odds for receiving a certain type of item in a “loot box”. While this development has been met with a positive response especially from foreign gamers and speculations about its international impacts have already started, the actual consequences for the online game sector remain uncertain. Read more
Spain Moves Forward on Video Games Tax Incentives and eSports
January 24, 2017
The Spanish video games community has lately received two important good news. On the one hand, the Spanish legislature has given course to two bills addressed to facilitating the investment flows into the industry in the Spanish market. On the other, the industry has recently welcomed the establishment of the Spanish Videogames and eSports Federation (Federación Española de Videojuegos y eSports – “Feves”). Read more
Italy extends Tax Benefits for Audiovisual Works – Good News for Games?
January 17, 2017
The Italian legislature has established several measures in favour of the cinema and audio-visual sector and a mandate has been given to the Government to reform some sector laws, assimilating – in some cases – video games and audio-visual products with film products. Among other innovations, a new law introduces, with effect from 2017, new tax benefits based on the instrument of the tax credit and indicates the main rules and areas of application. However, it is not yet clear to what extent video game companies will actually benefit from the new schemes. Read more
German Games Industry Presents Model Bill For Development Tax Credits
January 10, 2017
Games are often cutting-edge technology, and always an important economic factor and a cultural asset. It is hardly surprising that many countries support their development for one or more of these reasons, often by granting tax credits or other tax incentives. Germany however does not yet have a dedicated incentive scheme. The German games industry association BIU has set out to change that, and recently presented a draft model bill on tax incentives for video game development. Read more
Vindication for No Man’s Sky as ads on the game’s Steam page are held not to be misleading
January 4, 2017
No Man’s Sky (NMS) gathered a lot of negative press following its release; the key complaint was the lack of specific features that had been shown in videos posted onto video sharing platforms and social media networks prior to the game’s launch, but which were not available in the launch version of the game.  However, NMS still achieved impressive sales figures, maintains a healthy fan base and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has now held that the ads and content found on the Steam page for NMS were not misleading. Read more