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Games Industry Law Summit – #63

It's been a while since we last touched base. I hope you're all doing well – or at least, well enough
Games Industry Law Summit
Games Industry Law Summit – #63
By Sergei Klimov • Issue #63 • View online
It’s been a while since we last touched base. I hope you’re all doing well – or at least, well enough, under the circumstances!
Several people in the community whom I know personally have been hit with the virus over the last few weeks. And while all of them have since recovered, it’s a reminder that we still have a long way back to “normal” – as an industry that’s spread across dozens of countries, we remain exposed to risks as long as even a single major region is still dealing with the pandemics.
Here’s some news pieces, then, and a link to the most recent community podcast featuring two excellent lawyers and longtime friends who have been instrumental in building the Summit into what it is today. Stay safe, and always wear a face mask in public!

CD Projekt RED makes it big
By now, most of us have adapted to the new reality of working from home, or from a mostly empty law offices. The industry itself is doing very well, and is proving to be anti-fragile in the current crisis. While airlines, banks and hotels lay off people, games studios hunt for new talent and snap the marketing opportunities that suddenly got a lot more cheaper across the board.
CD Projekt RED, a well-liked company at any other time, got itself some additional recognition when it become the most valuable company on the Warsaw Stock Exchange (the hideous headline of the Bloomberg article I just linked tells you volumes about how far the general business media is from getting even a basic idea of what our industry is – but nothing new here).
And if you thought this news was a lucky incident, I just did the math for you. When Bloomberg reported this first, CDPR’s market value was at $6.6 billion. Today, a month later, it’s at incredible $8 billon plus. Well done, guys and gals!
TaleWorlds makes it big, too
For years, a vocal part of the PC games community has been bashing the Ankara-based TaleWorlds for developing its new game, Mount & Blade II: Bannerlord, “far too long”. Time and again, the development studio was told that it “missed the train” and “cannot expect players to return to the game after years of nothing”.
When the game finally released a bit over a month ago on Steam in Early Access, we were in for a very entertaining night: not only did the game beat the record of any previous Mount & Blade games in CCU, but it has also beat almost every other game on Steam, too (including GTAV and PUBG) and rising up to become the third most played game on the Steam platform with a peak of 250K players online at the same time.
NB: the game costs €49.99, which is substantially more expensive than €29.99 of PUBG. To understand the impact, I looked up the annual revenue of Paradox Interactive, a former publishing partner of TaleWorlds who stopped working with the studio a few years ago and is now a publicly listed company. It turns out that just in 1 month with 1 game, TaleWorlds grossed more than Paradox Interactive grossed with their entire catalogue across the whole of the last year.
Congratulations to TaleWorlds! I’m sure that quite a lot of people in the international industry would love to pay the studio a visit at its university campus to talk about the possible cooperation.
Legal Challenge: 4 teams qualify
Thanks to the efforts put forward by this year’s Judge Panel and the ops committee, our little games industry moot court project moves forward despite the lockdowns.
This week we announced the four teams that qualified to the semifinals (out of the total of 21 competing teams this year):
🇬🇧 One Stone
🇵🇱 The Board
🇪🇸🇬🇧🇫🇷 Queendom Hearts
🇷🇸 University of Belgrade Law Faculty’s Team
The full list of team members is available here – in case you want to connect to them ahead of the event.
Congratulations to the four teams who qualified, and here’s hoping that we meet face to face later this year!
Podcast gets nuked, podcast gets resurrected
Earlier this year at a meeting where we discussed this year’s program, a number of in-house counsel and law firm lawyers shared their frustration at dealing with music in video games.
There were a few stories where developers had their content delisted just because one of their partners has fingerprinted one music track for a separate release elsewhere, and the whole issue sounded like a potential minefield. Little did I know that soon enough I would be able to share a similar story!
Earlier this year we started a community podcast where we’d call a couple of lawyers from the Summit to catch up on the news from their regions, and to find out more about their experience. As a background for the recording, we used an original music track that our studio has created for our own digital board game, and which we released on Spotify.
A few weeks after releasing the first two episodes, we tried to log in to prepare for the third… only to find out that our account has been nuked! The content was simply gone, and the only clue was an email saying “Your Anchor account has been deleted”.
It took us several days to get to the bottom of what has happened:
Apparently, Anchor uses automated detection of content;
Apparently, us publishing the music track on Spotify made the track recognisable as “original music that has an owner”;
Apparently, Anchor (owned by Spotify) has no way of connecting the dots between us owning the podcast and us owning the music;
Apparently, Anchor’s algorithm is to immediately nuke the account which is found to contain music (without bothering to explain the reasons), and let the support deal with the possibility that a mistake has been made by the auto-detection routine.
In the end, we managed to get some real humans at Anchor to listen to the content that they have removed, and the account has been restored.
My takeaway? Music seems to be a very special kind of content that carries a lot of risk through association. Also, if you use automatic detection, maybe try to “quarantine” the suspected content and email the owners, instead of just killing the whole thing without any explanation.
S01E03: Tobias Schelinski & Jan-Peter Ewert
Fresh from the oven:
This morning’s episode of the community podcast where I talk to Tobias Schelinski (TaylorWessing) and Jan-Peter Ewert (Valve) about what makes a good in-house counsel, why a law firm would fire a client, how do you address legal risks and how do you gauge the performance of someone whose job is to address them.
The episode runs for 30 minutes and is available at 7 different platforms, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and others:
And if you’ll be going there, you may also want to catch up on S01E02 where we chat with Brian Taehyun Chung (Kim & Chang) & Felix Hilgert (Osborne Clarke) and S01E01 where we chat with Roman Zanin (Wargaming) and Ryan Black (DLA Piper Canada).
Stay healthy!

PS
I had this tweet bookmarked for a while. Sorry!
YS
If the Coronavirus has really jumped from humans to Ted Cruz then we are fucked.
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Sergei Klimov

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