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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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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