Video Game & Immersive Entertainment Law (LAW-795-200)
All summer 2021 classes will be taught online. Classes may have a combination of live sessions and asynchronous materials/assignments. The block of time listed here will be the maximum amount of live session meeting time expected of you and may decrease.
Video game developers face a unique combination of legal issues and hurdles from initial concept, through development, and continuing through the release of each new game. At the outset, intellectual property plays a key role in protecting video games, and freedom of speech is a recurring theme. As game development goes on, more complex issues rise to the surface, e.g., rights of publicity, licensing of material to be included in the game, and contracts with voice and motion capture actors when needed. Employment issues are also not uncommon because, after all, a video game developer is a company making a product to sell to the public—nondisclosure and independent contractor agreements (or the lack thereof) are a common pitfall in the industry. Marketing and advertising issues arise when it’s time to start publicizing a game to consumers. Lottery, contests, and gambling issues can arise both in the context of creative choices within each game (e.g., loot boxes), as well as game promotion (e.g., contests, esports). Publishing agreements also raise their own set of thorny issues, and self-publishing has its own set of legal issues. This course will discuss the myriad of issues that developers face. The course is relevant not only to those desiring to work with video game developers, but also for those looking to work with any new and nascent technology, e.g., augmented reality, virtual reality, movie production, and the creative arts.
Textbooks and Other Materials
The textbook information on this page was provided by the instructor. Students should use this information when considering purchases from the AU Campus Store or other vendors. Students may check to determine if books are currently available for purchase online.
Dannenberg, The American Bar Association’s Legal Guide to Video Game Development, 2nd Ed., 2016.
Scelsi & Dannenberg, Computer Games and Immersive Entertainment: The Next Frontiers in Intellectual Property Law, 2nd Ed, 2019.
First Class Readings
- If you have not taken an IP Survey course or at least two of Patent Law, Copyright Law, and Trademark Law, please review the relevant chapters of Dannenberg, The ABA Legal Guide to Video Game Development, 2nd Ed. (2016).
- Atari v. Oman, 979 F.2d 242 (D.C. Cir. 1992)
- Stern v. Kaufman, 669 F.2d 852 (2nd Cir. 1982)
- Brown v EMA, 131 S.Ct. 2729 (2011)
- Spry Fox v. LolAPPS, 2012 WL 5290158
- Tetris v. Xio, 863 F.Supp.2d 394 (D.NJ 2012)
- MDY v. Blizzard, 629 F.3d 928 (9th Cir. 2010)
- Micro Star v. Formgen, 154 F.3d 1107 (9th Cir. 1998)
- Sega v. Accolade, 977 F.2d 1510 (9th Cir. 1992)
Play one FPS, RPG, MMOG, Racing/Flying sim, Side-Scroller, puzzle/adventure, casual, mobile, and PC game, prior to first class. There can be some overlap, but try to play as many distinct games as possible. Be ready to discuss each.
Use your MyAU username and password to access the syllabus in the following format(s):