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Top 10 game dev legal
mistakes (in 20 minutes)
Jas Purewal
Rezzed, 12 March 2015
What we’ll discuss
2
1. The top 10 game dev legal mistakes
2. Why you shouldn’t do them
3. How not to do them
4. Seriously...
About me
3
I’m a video games and digital entertainment
lawyer. 10 years in the City of London and
Silicon Valley, then fou...
Clients
4
1: Contracts are a waste of time
Why devs might think so:
Contracts are complicated and are full of
things only lawyers mi...
2: IP law is evil
Why devs might think so:
“IP law is for big evil publishers to stomp on
little studios”.
Why that’s a mi...
3: T&Cs are pointless
Why devs might think so:
“Everyone just ticks the box and ignores it.”
Why that’s a mistake:
• T&Cs ...
4: Data privacy: not a dev problem
Why devs might think so:
“Our games don’t collect on any data!”
Why that’s a mistake:
•...
5: Founders never fall out
Why devs might think so:
“I built a studio with my mates, we’re cool.”
Why that’s a mistake:
• ...
6: Employees, contractors,
so what?
Why devs might think so:
“Employment law is for big studios.”
Why that’s a mistake:
• ...
7: Age ratings are irrelevant
Why devs might think so:
“I don’t use them, so who cares?”
Why that’s a mistake:
• Formal ag...
8: Tax breaks aren’t worth it
Why devs might think so:
“It’s just loads of paperwork for nothing”.
Why that’s a mistake:
•...
9: F2P isn’t regulated
Why devs might think so:
“Apple hasn’t told us to change anything”.
Why that’s a mistake:
• Not jus...
10: Lawyers can’t help game devs
Why devs might think so:
“Expensive and they don’t get games.”
Why that’s a mistake:
• Fi...
Thanks! AMA?
15
........................................................
E: jas@purewalandpartners.com
W: www.purewalandpa...
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Top 10 game developer legal mistakes

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Interactive entertainment lawyer Jas Purewal explains the top ten most frequently encountered legal mistakes by games developers, why they happen and what to do about them.

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Top 10 game developer legal mistakes

  1. 1. Top 10 game dev legal mistakes (in 20 minutes) Jas Purewal Rezzed, 12 March 2015
  2. 2. What we’ll discuss 2 1. The top 10 game dev legal mistakes 2. Why you shouldn’t do them 3. How not to do them 4. Seriously, don’t 5. Bye!
  3. 3. About me 3 I’m a video games and digital entertainment lawyer. 10 years in the City of London and Silicon Valley, then founded a digital entertainment law firm, Purewal & Partners, in London in 2014. We help games studios and video games businesses with things like: contracts negotiation, intellectual property, employment, regulation, financing and dispute resolution. I also write www.gamerlaw.co.uk. Not me
  4. 4. Clients 4
  5. 5. 1: Contracts are a waste of time Why devs might think so: Contracts are complicated and are full of things only lawyers might understand. Why that’s a mistake: • A contract is just a document explaining what both sides get. • It’s your best chance to make sure you get what your studio needs but doesn’t give too much away. Tip: use contracts whenever possible. Get a working understanding of them. Ask other devs and lawyers about them.
  6. 6. 2: IP law is evil Why devs might think so: “IP law is for big evil publishers to stomp on little studios”. Why that’s a mistake: • Legally, a game is made of IP rights. • Sure, it can be abused, but it’s your best shot at protecting your business in all sorts of ways. Tip: get a working understanding of what IP law in games actually is, rather than just what the Internet thinks it is.
  7. 7. 3: T&Cs are pointless Why devs might think so: “Everyone just ticks the box and ignores it.” Why that’s a mistake: • T&Cs are your way to tell your users what’s OK and what’s not. • It helps protect your business and communicate with your users. • Still legally effective if not fully read! Tip: there is no earthly reason not to have T&Cs. They don’t have to be stuffed full of legalese, but they should exist.
  8. 8. 4: Data privacy: not a dev problem Why devs might think so: “Our games don’t collect on any data!” Why that’s a mistake: • All studios do. • Regulators in UK/US/EU are actively looking at games studios’ use of data. Tip: get a privacy policy and cookie policy. Register with local data privacy regulator (if applicable). “Privacy by design”.
  9. 9. 5: Founders never fall out Why devs might think so: “I built a studio with my mates, we’re cool.” Why that’s a mistake: • People fall out. It happens. • The worst thing you can do is build a company without setting some ground rules down in writing first. Tip: get a good shareholders agreement. Think about shareholdings properly (and unemotionally). Keep this under review as the company grows.
  10. 10. 6: Employees, contractors, so what? Why devs might think so: “Employment law is for big studios.” Why that’s a mistake: • Contractors own IP in their work. Contractors could be employees in fact. • Employment law raises serious tax and admin issues – not to be ignored. Tip: get good template employment and contractor agreements. Employment law applies to even the smallest of indies.
  11. 11. 7: Age ratings are irrelevant Why devs might think so: “I don’t use them, so who cares?” Why that’s a mistake: • Formal age ratings are still needed on console and PC physical releases. • They are a real issue in important markets like Germany and Australia. • Parents and regulators still rely on them. Tip: know when you actually need them and when you don’t.
  12. 12. 8: Tax breaks aren’t worth it Why devs might think so: “It’s just loads of paperwork for nothing”. Why that’s a mistake: • Tax breaks themselves effectively subsidise development (e.g. UK GTR: >20% of qualifying dev costs). • They could be used to unlock wider equity/project funding. Tip: have a chat with your accountant and lawyer – is there free money on the table?
  13. 13. 9: F2P isn’t regulated Why devs might think so: “Apple hasn’t told us to change anything”. Why that’s a mistake: • Not just a platform problem – it’s yours. • F2P regulation, especially in UK/EU, is a growing issue for devs. • You can’t just create any F2P mechanic you like – there are rules in place now. Tip: get an understanding of UK F2P principles. Talk to a games lawyer during dev.
  14. 14. 10: Lawyers can’t help game devs Why devs might think so: “Expensive and they don’t get games.” Why that’s a mistake: • Find the right lawyer. Purewal & Partners, Osborne Clarke, Sheridans, Harbottles – all good UK/EU law firms. • A good lawyer is also a business advisor and a walking contact list. Tip: find a games lawyer and build a long- term relationship with him/her.
  15. 15. Thanks! AMA? 15 ........................................................ E: jas@purewalandpartners.com W: www.purewalandpartners.com T: @gamerlaw ........................................................

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