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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EU: Prohibition on payment surcharges starting January 2018

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.

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Implementing decrees for e-sport competitions in France

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 […]

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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
Video Game Age Ratings in Europe (Part 2 of 3: Virtual Reality)
April 12, 2016
The rapid development of virtual reality technology lets players immerse themselves into digital worlds. Virtual reality headsets are already used in numerous video games to deliver astonishingly real gaming experiences. It is yet unclear, however, how exactly the technology affects age ratings for video games. We explore some ideas. Read more
Video Game Age Ratings in Europe (Part 1 of 3: The Basics)
March 24, 2016
Content rating systems are used to classify games for suitable age groups in most countries with relevance for the games industry. Age ratings can create restrictions on marketing and distribution of games, but also help consumers make better choices and provide legal certainty for publishers.

While PEGI has established itself as the main rating system in Europe, some jurisdictions use modified versions, and Germany has a different approach altogether. The German USK ratings are non-compatible to PEGI and merit a closer look for anyone distributing content in Germany, whether online or offline. Read more