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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The new German Minimum Wage Act: Challenges for the Games Industry
August 18, 2015
The introduction of the German Minimum Wage Act (MWA) on 1 January 2015 has had a big impact for Digital Business companies. Indie developers, studios and start-up companies in particular should be aware of a number of requirements and risks for anyone now hiring employees, interns and/or (purported) freelancers. Read more
French tax credit to be extended to PEGI 18+ video games
August 6, 2015
The French government has just published secondary legislation allowing developers of 18+ video games to benefit, under some conditions, from the French tax credit system to favour the creation of video games. Read more
Regulation of online and app-based games: An update from the UK
August 4, 2015
On 30 January 2014 the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) published the final form of its Principles for online and app-based games. These Principles can be found here. Games businesses then had until 1 April 2015 to bring their operations into compliance with the Principles. (As it happens, 1 April 2014 was also the date when the OFT was replaced by a new agency, the Competition & Markets Authority (CMA)).

During the OFT’s investigations that led to the Principles, the OFT identified a number of practices that it felt were not compliant with applicable laws and regulations. So as 1 April came and went, what happened? Read more

VGBA: Video Games Lawyers Meet At Gamescom
July 7, 2015
The Video Game Bar Association, a non-profit organisation uniting experienced video games industry lawyers, will bring its well-respected Summit on Games, Business and Legal Affairs to Europe for the first time as part of gamescom2015. The VGBA EuroSummit will be held concurrently with gamescom congress on August 6, 2015 at the koelnmesse in Cologne. Read more
[update] What Scrapping Freedom of Panorama Would Do to Games
June 29, 2015
We couldn’t believe it at first, but it’s no hoax: The Legal Affairs Committee of the European Parliament has voted a paper that urges the EU Commission to significantly restrict “freedom of panorama” as a part of the anticipated reform of EU rules on copyright. Such step would have dire consequences for developers’ creative options and ultimately the degree of realism possible in computer games. [update 9 July 2015: Not a hoax, but all clear now: Commissioner Oettinger tweets that “We will not limit #FreedomofPanorama”] Read more
New Case Law on Online Game Ads: ‘Shop in the Pet Store’ Not Illegal Targeting of Children
June 16, 2015
The final “Runes of Magic” decision of the German Federal Court of Justice (“BGH”) regarding an advertisement for in-game items (allegedly) targeted at children has caused enormous insecurity (we have discussed the case in some detail in this blog). The German language has different words and grammatical constructions for “formal” and “informal” address, the latter being commonly used for children, but also for family, friends, and in other informal settings. This peculiarity can make it hard to draw a line between advertisements specifically targeted at children, and legitimate and rather common “informal” promotional approaches. Is it really not allowed to use informal language in advertisements? Even the BGH decision contained contradictory passages on these issues.

The Regional Court of Berlin (“LG Berlin”) now had to decide on a quite similar issue. It seized the opportunity to make one thing crystal clear: Yes, you can. “Get it now” and “Shop in the pet store” are not forbidden advertising targeted at children even though they use the informal address. The Berlin judges also scrutinize the BGH decision in an insightful manner. Read more

The end of the UsedSoft case and its implications for “used” software licences
April 30, 2015
One of the most important copyright cases of recent years has come to a quiet end. The dispute between Oracle and UsedSoft, which opened the way for the rather new market of “used” software licences with the European Court of Justice’s (“ECJ”) landmark decision in 2012, has just now come to a close in the German courts, and with a surprising outcome: UsedSoft lost.

It is reported that UsedSoft has withdrawn its appeal and signed an undertaking to cease and desist. After eight years of legal proceedings and a landmark decision by the ECJ in their favour, they gave up the case. But why? Read more

Letter from Poland: Consumer Rights and F2P Advertising
March 19, 2015
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 …”. The first installment of the series comes from Warsaw – fellow IT/IP law blogger Jakub Kubalski tackles linguistic issues with Poland’s implementation of the Consumer Rights Directive and discusses a hefty fine for allegedly misleading online game advertisements. Read more
German Courts Ban Bots in Blizzard Games (Again)
February 24, 2015
A protracted legal battle is opposing World of Warcraft operator Blizzard and distributors of automation software (bots) in Germany – but two recent appellate court decisions are strongly hinting at which side will likely emerge victorious when the fog of war is lifted. Both courts also made some valuable comments on the enforceability of game EULAs under the notoriously strict German Civil Code. Read more
German Terms of Service mandatory when targeting German consumers
January 19, 2015
German consumer protection law puts a set of quite specific restrictions on the enforceability of clauses in B2C standard contracts, such as Terms of Service for an online game or platform. Furthermore, it is an overarching principle of these statutory consumer protection rules that Terms of Service in consumer contracts must be clear, unambiguous, and easy to understand for the customer. In addition, the German Telemedia Act requires any business providing online services to disclose a statutory set of contact information. Failure to comply with these rules may result in enforcement action from public authorities – but much more frequently, in cease and desist letters and lawsuits brought by competitors or consumer associations. Read more