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Games Industry Law Summit – LC IV, agenda & special events

Happy 2020! A good test of whether or not a lawyer would do well in the international games industry,
Games Industry Law Summit
Games Industry Law Summit – LC IV, agenda & special events
By Sergei Klimov • Issue #55 • View online
Happy 2020!
A good test of whether or not a lawyer would do well in the international games industry, is asking them about chess – auto chess, in particular.
Once upon a time, there was a game called Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos, published by Blizzard. That game had an expansion pack, The Frozen Trone. And a community-created mod, Defence of the Ancients.
The designer of the mod joined Valve to create what can be described as “a standalone sequel to the community mod for the expansion-enhanced bestselling game”, also known as Dota 2 and available from Steam, Valve’s digital distribution platform.
Fast forward a few years, and the world received Dota Auto Chess – a community mod for Dota 2; created in China, inspired by Mahjong and released on Valve’s own Steam Workshop.
After millions of players enjoyed the mod (it currently has 9 million subscribers on the mod’s page), the designers removed “Dota” from the title (and the corresponding assets from the game), and released it as a standalone product, Auto Chess, on EGS – a digital distribution platform of Epic Games, the direct competitor of Steam.
Inspired by all this, Valve released its own standalone game, Dota Underlords, which is basically “a standalone game inspired by the community mod for the standalone sequel to the community mod for the expansion-enhanced bestselling game”.
Now, if you think that the above all sounds exciting, and maybe needs a few more turns to become even more fun (such as Riot Games releasing Teamfight Tactics, its own standalone game in the universe of League of Legends that is inspired by Dota Auto Chess) – then you’re in the right industry!

Legal Challenge IV: last week to register!
January 15, 2020 is the last day for the student teams to register in this year’s Legal Challenge IV. All the details of the case are here.
Please help us spread the word by sharing the link wherever you think law students (and young associates) might see it!
As of now, we already have registrations from China, Greece, Serbia, Netherlands, UK, US, Italy and France – as well as a number of teams from other countries who applied but haven’t finished their registrations yet.
The semifinals of LC III in 2019 were pretty intense.
The semifinals of LC III in 2019 were pretty intense.
We currently expect that about 10-12 teams will come through with the first submission later this month (as the case is a bit more challenging than in 2019), and we look forward to a fantastic set of semifinals and finals here in Vilnius on April 29!
Reception Dinner is confirmed at Hotel PACAI
Hotel PACAI is one of the five-star partner hotels of the Summit, and we know from the feedback of the attendees who stayed there in 2019 that it’s been a great experience for everyone.
Last year, we briefly entertained the idea of staging the Reception Dinner there – to make use of their beautiful closed courtyard and a very cool lobby area – but after talking to the team that used to manage their two restaurants, we canned it: their combination of the lack of excitement with the lack of flexibility was really exceptional.
The end of the last year brought welcome changes, however: the restaurants came fully under the control of the hotel itself, which merged them into one larger place, and the person who heads it now is the former F&B manager of the Kempinski hotel – who worked with us on staging several Summit events in the previous years.
Graham Hann explains that in addition to black, he also owns a white t-shirt.
Graham Hann explains that in addition to black, he also owns a white t-shirt.
Because of that, we spent the last few weeks of 2019 in discussions with the new team at PACAI, and finally shook hands on the plan to host there the Reception Dinner of 2020 (it starts at 18:00 on April 29).
If you attend the Summit this year, it’s a great way to catch up with your friends as well as meet new people in an informal environment. The food and the drinks are already included in your registration, and in addition to champagne, red and white wine and beer we’ll be also serving rosé (though we’re still on the lookout for the right vintage).
Legal What? Legal Run!
One of the best ways of dealing with that extra glass of rioja taken during the Reception Dinner is the Legal Run on the next day: this year’s event starts at 06:30 on April 30, from the Kempinski, and will take you through the beautiful Bernardinu Sodas.
If you haven’t registered for the run, please email Alma – and please indicate your t-shirt size. As in 2019, we will produce custom technical running shirts for each of the runners who registers before February 20 – these shirts take a while to get made.
The registration, and the shirts, are free to those who show up for the run. If you don’t want to run, but would love a t-shirt to take home – they come at €35 per shirt, if you let us know in advance.
In one of the next issues of this newsletter, we’ll share the design of 2020’s running shirts. The backside motto this year, by the way, is as follows:
Alles Gute und bis bald!
Hier rennt ein Spieleindustrierechtsanwalt.
(nothing beats German language for poetry!)
Go, Peter! Go, Alan! (in the background: Dasha is playing catch up!)
Go, Peter! Go, Alan! (in the background: Dasha is playing catch up!)
Oh, Finland
I’ve been meaning to share this piece of vital information with you for a while, and so before I forget: how many suspects, do you think, were drunk when committing a homicide in Sweden and in Finland respectively, based on the data for 2007-2016?
(And before I share the numbers, a good question to ask yourself is whether or not a higher percentage is a good thing: maybe, just maybe, living in a place where sober people don’t murder each other, is a good recipe for survival?).
Anyways, here’s the data courtesy of Yle News:
“Between 2007 and 2016, suspects were drunk in 75 percent of all homicides in Finland. The corresponding figure in Sweden was 42 percent.”
There you go.
How about... a Summit's own music band?
One of my friends is an emergency room surgeon in London. Outside of his (rather demanding) job, his hobby is playing guitar at a local trash metal band, and the more he’s been telling me about how great this is for de-stressing, the more I wondered – why don’t we have something like GERALT’S DEATHWISH or DEAD MARIOS or whatever other name a band of games industry lawyers might assume, in order to play some nice music at the event?
So here’s a call for those of you among the attendees, who know how to perform in a band, and who would like to jam together during the Reception Dinner on April 29: please hit me up over the email, and we’ll see if we can put something together? Doesn’t have to be a long set, and doesn’t have to be of a particular genre – as long as you guys agree on what makes you the happiest.
From our side, we spoke to Hotel PACAI and they’re willing to accommodate the necessary equipment; and we spoke to the local stage company that’s happy to rent us whatever we might need for the night – whether that’s a piano, or a drum machine.
Summit's 2020 schedule – in a nutshell
If you (or your PA) are booking your Vilnius tickets these days, you may want to consult the schedule here. It doesn’t list the presentations yet, but it’s got the overall timeline which is pretty much set in stone as of now.
We're at 206 registrations, with 34 seats left
In 2019, we really hit the limit of the Kempinski’s conference facilities as far as the actual event was concerned, at 200 attendees, and in 2020 we’re taking a big step forward with the transition of the Summit to the Palace of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania on the Cathedral Square.
This transition is both fun and challenging on multiple levels, from us having to produce a custom waterproof rug so that you can all safely spill coffee on a €750,000 wooden floor to us having to commission the manufacturing of custom tables for the biggest hall of the Palace– because we got a lot of requests to provide everyone with the setup from which people could work while they listen to presentations, and nobody in the Baltics or in Poland has enough modern tables to serve our needs.
If we screw this up, it’ll be on a large scale. And if we make things run smooth, it’ll be amazeballs!
Anyways, the reason I mention this is that for 2020’s Summit, we’ve set the attendee cap at 240 people, and we’re currently at 206 confirmed registrations (a more or less updated list is here). So if you’re still working on internal approvals, please bear in mind that in a few weeks, the registration for this year’s event will run out – simply because we cannot commit to managing more than 240 people in the new venue, where we’ll work for the first time (and then we’ll see how things stand for 2021!).
Agenda. AGENDA!!
In the middle of February, just like every year since we started the Summit, I’ll sit down with a few of experienced counsels from the board of the Summit in order to define the specific list of presentations and panel discussions for 2020.
The way it works is that we keep collecting proposals throughout the few months, then we call upon several GCs at a few major games companies, and then we spend the whole day discussing the pros and cons of every topic that may, or may not, make sense for a particular year.
Currently, here’s what’s been discussed/what’s being discussed for this year:

  • Open source: who the hell needs it, and what are the most common challenges (did you know that some countries don’t even recognise the concept? and did you know how many of your peers have been in court on one or another aspect of this topic?)
  • Unions in the games industry: it seems like we have enough speakers for a cross-border panel, which seems more and more relevant, given the recent news.
  • Auditing a games company: after years of asking around the industry for the best expert to talk about this, we’ve hit gold with Marty Katz.
  • M&A in the games industry: Mike Turner is back with a sequel of his 2019’s panel, and we’re looking to give the topic significantly more time because a few other people have volunteered to share their recent experience in the field.
  • Managing litigation is, perhaps, not a very obvious topic, yet it keeps coming up in conversations that I have with the in-house people: from structuring the retainers to defining the internal policy on the matter, it seems like we need a deep dive to sync ourselves on this issue.
  • Cross-border litigation and enforcement is another theme that’s either “nothing” or “everything”, depending on whom you talk to. Perhaps you want to sink a few million dollars into a decision that’ll stay on paper due to lack of enforceability, and perhaps not. I think we could all benefit from discussing this in May!
  • EULA and consumer protection is the gift that keeps on giving.
  • Privacy from the user’s standpoint is a topic that we aired in 2019, and Leena Kuusniemi agreed to moderate in 2020 (in the words of Swift on Security, “We don’t need data portability from Facebook. We need a fucking data incinerator.”).
  • Citizen science in games is a topic where, if you ask someone about their take, you may hit gold (as in “we’ve done that!”) or miss the target altogether (“citizen what?”). Perhaps it will become a Working Lunch theme, or perhaps it’s good enough for the general discussion? Who knows! Up to you, guys.
  • Finally, country updates, thanks to places like Brazil and Turkey, are the ever-green source of education (at least for me!). We’ll have a pretty big presentation on China and the current US/China trade war from a person who’s my best choice for getting lost in Beijing with (aka Greg Pilarowski), and we’ll have an introduction to India, presented by Vikram Jeet Singh. Outside of this, everything’s possible – we’ll probably see panels or presentations on such regions as the US, Canada, Germany, France and Korea, and we’re likely to have Poland, Russia, Turkey and a few other regions as the topics for the specific tables during the Working Lunch.
And now comes the action point:
If there’s a topic that you would like to suggest – or present – or join a panel on, please send me an email!
In the next 4 weeks, there will be a number of group email threads between a number of attendees here in the community, and all the feedback that I receive on the agenda goes right into those emails – to check what’s relevant, and what’s not so much.
These three things will require your attention
As a heads-up, there’s three things that Alma and/or me will soon be bothering you with:
  1. The seating arrangement for the Formal Dinner. As in 2019, each person will nominate another guest at their 6-guest table, who has to be from a country and a company that’s new to the table. If you’re quick about responding, you’ll enjoy the dinner immensely (and if you forget to respond and will ignore our reminders, then it’s going to be a random draw at the end of the scheduling period).
  2. The choice of topic/table during the Working Lunch. About half of the attendees will enjoy the regular buffet, while the other half will spend the lunch on the second day in groups of 10, with each table focused on a specific topic. As this is the first time that we try this format, we’ll start small, and then will expand from there (the arrangement will be pull-based, not push-based, i.e. we’ll invite people to apply, but we won’t be chasing anyone on our own).
  3. The edits/feedback on your very own personal page in the Attendee Book. Now, this is a big thing, so please see below for more details.
The Attendee Book of 2020
For the Summit of 2020, we will produce a printed book that introduces each and every attendee. This is a great way to find out who your peers are, and to see if there’s maybe a connection in place that you haven’t suspected of.
Here’s how it looks, more or less (thanks to Marc Mayer for being one of the first people to complete the questionnaire)–
Basically, it lists your 3 key proficiencies, 3 of your most recent jobs, your education, location and languages spoken, and then your answers to the five personal questions that, in our opinion, showcase you from the side that others may not know of, yet.
In the course of the coming 3 weeks, Alma and Mindaugas will email each of the registered attendees with the drafts of your own pages, in order to verify the content.
Please help us help you, by responding in a timely manner!
While we’ll do our best to send a couple of reminders to chase everyone who’s busy at the moment, we will remove the pages that we cannot get any feedback on after two weeks, as the deadline for the book is pretty strict.
There will be a total of 250 copies of this book printed, and it will not be available online (as we think it’s personal enough not to broadcast it all over the place). In terms of time and value to the community, it’s probably the biggest effort that we undertake (well, maybe second biggest, after manufacturing those custom tables for the Palace…).
Lastly...
I know I’ve written this before, and a few times at that, but please – please, please! – make sure that you’ve booked your hotel at this point in time.
With 200+ attendees, most of the event hotels are sold out of their standard rooms, and we’re about to extinguish the number of rooms on which we’ve asked them to give us their special rates – so that by the end of this month, you’re likely to pay at least a few hundred euros more for the same room that you can still book today at the Summit’s rate.
We’ve got a bunch of people staying at Kempinski, PACAI, Vilnia, Shakespeare and Artagonist and if you don’t have a reservation yet, please ping Alma and she’ll connect you to the relevant booking manager at one of these. In 2019, I’ve seen some attendees pay €100/night for the same room that others later paid €200/night just because it was last-moment (and early May being the holiday period in the East, rooms will dry up fairly soon).
Finally, if there’s anything that our team can help you with, in order to make your trip to the Summit more comfortable this year – just shout. Alma, Mindaugas, Titas and I are here to make it work for you, whether it’s about arranging a weekend getaway for your family or a set of ginger-and-lemongrass tea in your hotel room. With the event still a few months away at this time, our ability to accommodate special requests is wide open!

Have a great weekend, and speak soon!
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Sergei Klimov

A newsletter about games industry's legal side, written for the benefit and entertainment of the folks attending (or considering to attend) the annual Games Industry Law Summit in Vilnius.

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