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eSports: EU/international law and regulation


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eSports, video games and tech lawyer Jas Purewal takes you through some of the key legal and business issues both within and outside eSports. Originally delivered at the eSports Conference in London, April 2016.

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eSports: EU/international law and regulation

  1. 1. European/international eSports law – a quick guide in 20(ish) mins Jas Purewal eSports Conference, London April 2016
  2. 2. What we’ll discuss 2 1. Common legal issues within eSports 2. Key legal issues from outside eSports 3. Open questions 4. Panel chat
  3. 3. About me 3 I’m an eSports, video games and tech lawyer. Over a decade of experience in international law firms in London, mainland Europe and Silicon Valley. Founded Purewal & Partners in 2014. Over last several years, I have advised many parts of eSports ecosystem on legal and business matters. Examples: - Advised on highest value player and team transfers in eSports history to date - Represented a major broadcaster on international regulatory matters - Advised a large US eSports gambling operator on EU considerations - Assisted a major event organiser on legal rules regarding tournaments/events - Assisted US eSports businesses to enter EU and EU businesses to enter US - Advising a number of EU eSports businesses right now on corporate, commercial and organisational matters
  4. 4. (1) Common legal issues encountered within eSports
  5. 5. (i) Uneven approach to business 5 • Player poaching/walk-outs/strikes. • Players not paid (or even given contracts). • Events quality uneven. • Leagues/publishers don’t cooperate. • Consumers confused, even misled. Image credit:
  6. 6. (ii) Lack of a level playing field 6 • Players often have little business knowledge (and usually no representation). • Teams may be little better off. • No consistency regarding publisher/league/ event rules (if any). • Sponsors don’t really want to be involved (but do want professionalism). • No central standards setting. • No dispute resolution/mediation service. • Litigation via the press. Image credit:
  7. 7. Example: player/team arrangements 7 Many player deals have a way to go… – Player and team rights – Financial terms – IP and ownership – Term and termination rights – Transfers – Liability – Penalties? – Dispute resolution – Publisher/eSport specific rules/requirements Image credit: (link)
  8. 8. (iii) The darker side of eSports 8 These things are rare, but they do happen… • Cheating. • Match-fixing. • Illegal gambling. • Performance enhancing drugs (?) Image credit: indiemarkllc/LucasFilm (link)
  9. 9. There are great improvements too… 9 - Nascent consensus (?) on player/team arrangements - Player-owned teams (e.g. Astralis) - Team-owned leagues (e.g. FaceIT/Twitch) - Team cooperation/coordination - Publisher/league involvement (?)
  10. 10. (2) European/international legal issues from outside eSports
  11. 11. The general overview 11 • eSports is young and globalised, but experience shows that over time even young globalised industries are subject to local laws. • There are real differences between US, EU and other countrie on a whole range of legal matters - this will in the medium term have an impact in the West. • Interactive entertainment, sports and entertainment laws also relevant • Some examples follow… Image credit: Uber, Facebook, Google (obviously)
  12. 12. Employment/labour law 12 • Whether a player is an employee or contractor is a test of substance, not form. • Employees have substantial rights under EU and other international laws, e.g.: • Restrictions regarding dismissal • Working hours • Health and safety (personal injuries?) • Holidays, sick leave, paternity/maternity leave • Pensions! • In many countries, there are special rules for ‘sports’ players. Image credit: (link)
  13. 13. Tax and moneyz 13 • Taxes: income, corporation, employment, even VAT. • Country-specific sports taxes/levies/government contributions (?) • But also opportunities: tax incentives, public and charitable funding, access to finance. Image credit: (link)
  14. 14. Advertising and marketing 14 • Again, no international consistency. • Brands will expect to see regulatory compliance…but is there any for eSports? • FTC (USA) and ASA (UK) guidance on vlogging (and streaming?) • Brands and new sponsors will also expect to do deals in their usual way. Will that work? Image credit: (link)
  15. 15. Gambling 15 • No international consistency. • Within EU, UK most friendly. Complex in many other countries. US model under threat (?) • eSports gambling regulation and regulators. • Real direct/indirect costs. • But the opportunity…? Image credit: (link)
  16. 16. Other important issues 16 Examples where there may be considerable regulation affecting eSports: • Broadcast rights • Immigration • Integrity issues • Intellectual property protection • Data privacy • Consumer affairs • Competition/anti-trust • Child/youth protection
  17. 17. A few open legal questions 17 • Who will own broadcast rights in the next big eSport? • Will eSports be considered a ‘sport’ by governments? Is that good/bad? • Are players employees or contractors of their team? • Are transfer fees and penalties in player agreements enforceable? • How will the looming exclusivity war play out? • When will we see our first big eSports lawsuit? • How should eSports be regulated?
  18. 18. Thanks! 18 ........................................................ E: W: T: @gamerlaw ........................................................