Business Immigration 101: Getting Developers Into Europe

Games companies most often have a very diverse and international culture – but sometimes it can be a challenge to hire non-Europeans in the EU. Here is a hopefully helpful overview of business immigration rules in some major EU jurisdictions: EU Immigration 101 – Osborne Clarke von Konstantin (Konni) Ewald

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Do You Have A Youth Protection Officer? – Germany Revamps Youth Prot...

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 […]

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Clarifications on Withdrawal Right Expected in German Consumer Law

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 […]

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Final Decision in Runes of Magic Case: German Federal Court of Justice Upholds Ban on In-Game Item Advertisement
October 28, 2014
The highest German civil court, the Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof; “BGH”), has rendered a final decision in the “Runes of Magic” case, confirming its earlier default judgment and ordering the operator of the client-based free-to-play online fantasy game to cease using certain language to advertise additional online content available for purchase.

More specifically, the contested wording included the sentence “Seize the advantageous opportunity and add that certain something to your armour & weapons”. Seized by a consumer watchdog organisation, the BGH considered the language a direct exhortation to children to purchase the items, which is prohibited by unfair commercial practices legislation.

The final written reasons for the decision (docket no.: I ZR 34/12) have now been provided, ending the lengthy litigation which started in 2009. While they address and attempt to resolve many of the most widely criticized shortcomings of the default judgment, they still leave readers puzzled in places. Is this a rogue case or the end of the free-to-play business model in Germany, as some commentators have speculated? We are seeing increased enforcement action in the wake of this decision, including from youth protection authorities. How should online games providers conduct themselves now? Read more

New VAT regime comes into force in the EU in January 2015
October 14, 2014
Changes in the Council Implementing Regulation (EU) No. 282/2011 of 15 March 2011 laying down implementing measures for Directive 2006/112/EC on the common system of value added tax (recast) will start affecting the games industry enormously. From the beginning of 2015, a new VAT regime will come into force. It concerns suppliers of games who use online services for their commercial exploitation and provide their services to end consumers (B2C) within the European Union (EU). The place of supply will change from “the establishment of the provider” to “the location of the end consumer”, and in consequence, suppliers need to face dealing with VAT regulations of all EU member states instead of just the one where they are domiciled. The new regulations and reporting procedure therefore now extend to suppliers within the EU the rules that had been applicable only to non-EU entrepreneurs until now, and will impact the bookkeeping of concerned companies. Read more
Temperatures rising in Europe for consumer claims
September 25, 2014
German Federal Court of Justice confirms Runes of Magic decision
September 18, 2014
This morning, the German Federal Court of Justice (the highest German civil court; “BGH”) has confirmed its July 2013 “Runes of Magic” decision (docket no. I ZR 34/12), banning an advertisement for in-game items allegedly targeted at children. This decision will likely have a considerable impact on anyone advertising and selling goods or services online. Read more
Apps and Digital Games: Complying with the new consumer protection laws in Germany
September 16, 2014
The Consumer Rights Directive (2011/83/EU – “CRD”) has introduced quite a few new provisions specifically addressing the distribution of digital content like apps, digital games and any kind of digital content. In theory, the idea of implementing special regulations for digital businesses is not a bad one. But in practice there are some serious pitfalls to consider. We give an overview of the new rules and guidance on how to comply with the new consumer rights. Read more
German Court: Key Selling Infringes Copyright
September 12, 2014

Key Selling is a serious problem for the games industry. The resale of product keys compromises price structures and harms consumers and businesses equally. The games industry has now made a big step forward against such key selling practices. In the first case of its kind in Germany, the Regional Court of Berlin has decided that the business model of key selling infringes copyright and is illegal. The decision was not appealed and has become binding. Read more

Privacy Alert: “Cookie Sweep” about to take place in Europe
September 8, 2014

Following an announcement by the CNIL, (the French data protection authority) “Cookie Sweep Days” will take place across the EU between 15 – 19 September 2014. Now is a good time for companies to ensure that the use of cookies on their websites in the EU complies with the applicable data protection laws – which are unfortunately not as harmonized throughout the EU as one might hope. After Germany’s initiative regarding privacy compliance in mobile apps, this is the second time in only a few weeks that data protection authorities are announcing extra scrutiny regarding privacy law questions highly relevant for the games industry. Read more

Beware of the (Watch)Dog: German Authorities on Mobile App Privacy Policies
September 1, 2014
In a joint effort, a working group reuniting all German Data Protection Authorities (“DPAs”) has now published its long awaited guidelines for developers of mobile games and apps. The 33 page document defines legal requirements for apps and also addresses the underlying technical framework, and announces more intense enforcement action in the weeks and months ahead. Read more
Let’s Play! But Who Wins the Copyright Battle?
August 27, 2014
The concept of “Let’s Play” is simple: Gamers make a video of themselves while playing and comment on the event like a TV reporter during a telecasted sporting event. Live-streams and video clips of game performances produced this way are uploaded to video platforms accessible for the interested public. The market for Let’s Play videos is booming. While in Germany the online audience of Let’s Play users is growing constantly, there are already entire dedicated streaming channels for Let’s Play content in the US, on which registered users follow extensive gaming sessions.

However, from a German and European copyright point of view, this market raises some issues and uncertainties that have yet to be addressed in case law. Read more

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