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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Letter from Poland: New gambling regulations – think loot crates and microtransactions
September 13, 2016
We are very grateful for our readers all over Europe for sharing their views and comments on the topics we dicuss in this blog. Sometimes, readers’ comments could be blog posts in their own right. We have decided to feature such comments (with the author’s consent of course) as a hopefully regular new feature, the “Letter from …”. This installment of the series comes from Warsaw again – fellow IT/IP law blogger Jakub Kubalski takes a tour d’horizon for 2017, with gambling regulations expanding their reach into online games law. Read more
Age Rating in Virtual Reality Environments
August 25, 2016
The rapid development of virtual reality technology lets players immerse themselves into digital worlds, and additional accessories introduce a physical experience to gaming, letting gamers feel vibrations and even punches. It is yet unclear, however, how such optional hardware affects age ratings. Up until now, the hardware used to play games has never been in the focus of classification procedures. Dedicated virtual reality content will however require a differentiating view, which will also pose technical challenges for ratings organizations. Read more
Social Gaming and Gambling – An increasingly blurred border?
August 23, 2016
The term ‘gaming’ means different things to different people. It can be used in a wide sense to refer to the playing of any game, but can also be used in a narrow sense to refer to the playing a game that involves gambling. Similarly, one sometimes hears the interactive entertainment industry referred to as the ‘gaming industry’, when this description would more accurately only be used to refer to the ‘gambling industry’. This confusion is not limited to terminology. Over recent years, it has become increasingly difficult to draw a clear distinction between games that constitute gambling (and therefore subject to gambling legislation) and games that are purely social games (and therefore fall outside the scope of gambling legislation). Read more
Undisclosed Advertising on YouTube – A Potential Pitfall for Games Brands
August 18, 2016
The American Federal Trade Commission recently took action against an “influencer marketing” campaign that involved sponsored gameplay videos. PewDiePie, who produced one of the videos, refutes the allegations that their paid character was inadequately disclosed. In Germany, too, labelling regulations for advertising and product placement are strict, and violations can lead to sanctions not just against Let’s Players, but also the brands they advertise. Read more
UK Video Games Tax Relief – How is it going and what might the future hold?
August 16, 2016
Video game tax relief (VGTR) has been available in the UK from 1 April 2014 for games that are culturally British and developed by British companies (even foreign-owned, which can make this instrument very interesting beyond the UK). So what difference has VGTR made and how might VGTR be impacted by Brexit? Before turning to these questions, here is a brief reminder of VGTR. Read more
E-Sports in France: A legal framework at last?
August 9, 2016
The French legislator is in the process of adopting a legal framework to regulate video game competitions and certain aspects of player’s employment law status. By doing so, France will join South Korea, USA and Russia as the countries that marked a turning point in e-sport history. Although France is not the birth place of e-sport as is South Korea, and does not officially recognize e-sport players as professional athletes yet, as it is the case in the USA, this new legal framework is a great step forward which will bring legal certainty to the organisation of gaming competitions in France. Read more
German Court Rules on Consumer Withdrawal Right Waiver for Virtual Currencies
July 28, 2016
Under the EU Consumer Rights Directive, consumers who buy digital content online have an express right to withdraw from that contract. Unlike for other goods and services, the Directive also permits digital content providers to obtain effective waivers of this withdrawal right before supplying the content to customers. It has always been highly controversial, however, whether this rule also applies to virtual currencies in online and mobile games, and how exactly such a waiver must be designed.

In a decision rendered 25 May 2016 (case no. 18 O 7/16 – not published, not final) the Regional Court of Karlsruhe, Germany, now held that virtual currency is “digital content” for the purpose of the Consumer Rights Directive, meaning that players do have a right to withdraw, but that games providers may in fact ask them to waive this right. However, the court puts extremely high demands on the design of the waiver process, making it very hard to implement in practical application. Read more

VGBA: Second edition of the European Game Business & Legal Affairs Summit
July 14, 2016
The Video Game Bar Association, a non-profit organisation uniting experienced video games industry lawyers, is hosting a second edition of its European Summit on Game Business and Legal Affairs at gamescom again this year. The VGBA European Summit will be held concurrently with gamescom congress on August 18, 2016 at the koelnmesse in Cologne. Read more
After Safe Harbor: Germany imposes fines for US data transfers
June 10, 2016
Due to the judgement of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) against the European Commission´s Safe Harbor agreement, many companies which had sent personal data to U.S. companies lost the essential legal basis for these data transfers. Now, data protection authorities in the German federal state of Hamburg have drawn first consequences and have imposed fines (EUR 8,000 – 11,000) upon a number of companies in Hamburg that had failed to implement alternative privacy compliance schemes for their data transfers to the USA. Read more
Video Game Age Ratings in Europe (Part 3 of 3: Mobile Games and IARC)
April 20, 2016
Game ratings are crazy complicated: Multiple rating systems are used all over the world, and of course, these systems are not really compatible. Not ideal when distributing digital content for global markets. That’s where IARC steps in: This automated system generates regionalized age ratings for app stores and other platforms depending on the user’s location. It’s already used by Microsoft’s Windows Store, the Google Play Store and the Firefox Marketplace. Read more