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Friday, 18 October 2013

Breaking news: WIPO study on Video Games legal protection

WIPO released  yesterday a multi jurisdictional study on the legal protection of video games.  Andy Ramos, co-author of the Study, did not fail to inform his good IPKat friend and contributor promptly of its publication.  

Once the exclusive preserve of children and the occasional enthusiast, video games have nowadays become part of mass entertainment and represent a multi-billion industry. In 2011,  the US Supreme Court put video games on a par with other traditional artistic media stating, “like the protected books, plays and movies that preceded them, video games communicate ideas – and even social messages – through many familiar literary devices (such as characters, dialogue, plot and music) and through features distinctive to the medium (such as the player’s interaction with the virtual world).”  

This Study was commissioned by WIPO because 
"video games present a number of questions and challenges in terms of copyright.The current landscape of the legal protection of video games appears extremely complex indeed.  Although Article 2 of the Berne Convention provides a solid basis for eligibility for protection of video games by copyright, they are in fact complex works of authorship, potentially composed of multiple copyrighted works. 
Modern video games contain at least two main parts: (i)    audiovisual elements (including pictures, video recordings and sounds); and (ii)   software, which technically manages the audiovisual elements and permits users to interact with the different elements of the game. 
For some countries, video games are predominantly computer programs, due to the specific nature of the works and their dependency on software.  Whereas in other jurisdictions, the complexity of video games implies that they are given a distributive classification.  Finally, few countries consider that video games are essentially audiovisual works."  
The Study  covers the following jurisdictions:  Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Egypt, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Kenya, the Republic of Korea, Rwanda, Russia, Senegal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United States of America and Uruguay.  

Further to comparing the classification of video games as to which kind of authorship works can apply for protection, the Study contains an analysis of the main stakeholders --always more numerous with the complex evolution of video games-- and their applicable regimes regarding compensation and transfer of rights. 

This Study hopes to raise awareness of the necessity to fill the normative void for an adequate legal protection for video games:  the conclusions invite for an international debate amongst the stakeholders and draw the attention to establishing a sui generis regime beneficial for all the industry.

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I think a new sui generis right for the protection of video games is an excellent idea, at least as a starting point for discussion. We need new forms of protection to deal with digital products in the transnational world of the internet.

I think it should also be a registerable right to make it easier for small tech companies to utilise it for raising cash, etc.

Sally Cooper said...

The Original Language is English (!) but the Date is 29th July 2013 : is delay in release the norm ?

Anonymous said...

Rwanda and Uruguay - but not the UK?
Given that the UK is a very significant video game market and producer - the most successful video game of all time (GTA 5) has just been released by a UK developer/publisher - its omission is baffling...

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