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Games Industry Law Summit – program and plan B

Games Industry Law Summit
Games Industry Law Summit – program and plan B
By Sergei Klimov • Issue #57 • View online
Today’s issue is equal parts about the program (we had the extended board meeting last week in Hamburg) and plan B (aka what do we do about SARS2/COVID-19 pandemic).
Because of the latter, we need to think about two possible scenarios for this year’s Summit, keeping in mind different versions of the future – so let’s start with this issue first.

SARS2/COVID-19 and the Summit
Last week, once the news about the Italian cluster came out, we realised that the chances of the pandemic actually happening – and affecting the Summit – are definitely higher than zero, and started with the contingency planning.
Since then, the case count in Italy shoot up to almost 300, the case count in South Korea is nearly 1,000 and the list of countries with confirmed infections now includes Austria, Spain, Croatia, Israel and Turkey (also, Iran is estimated to have as many as 5,000 cases based on the number of fatalities). A pretty accurate snapshot is available via this link courtesy of Johns Hopkins.
On one hand, there are still zero cases in the Baltics (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) as well as in Poland and Czech Republic, while Germany, Finland and France seem to be doing a fine job containing the few cases that they’ve had so far.
On another, as the example of Italy demonstrates, the lack of confirmed cases doesn’t mean the lack of infections in the region, given that it takes a few weeks to develop the symptoms – and then having access to the testing kit to actually confirm the infection as SARS2/COVID-19 (and based on this story from Miami, few people in America are likely to see medical help if asking to get tested results in a charge of $3K – welcome to the wonderful world of capitalism, y'all).
Based on this, we felt that we definitely need to have a “plan B” for the Summit, and here’s what we agreed on:
1️⃣ We keep preparing to run the Summit on schedule – while at the same time, we reach out to all of our local partners about the possibility that we might have to move the event to Q3 2020. And as of today, we’re 100% ready for the move if we’ll need to move.
2️⃣ If at any time prior to the Summit there’s a confirmed cluster of infections in or around Vilnius, then we move the event to Q3 without any doubts.
First of all, if you look at Milan today (schools, supermarkets closed; trade shows cancelled), then it’s definitely not a place where you want to have a group meeting – purely from the operations angle. Secondly, if you reflect on the Singapore-France-UK case, then you can imagine the risk related to having nearly 300 attendees from 33 countries against that background: it’s something that, even with 0.1% odds, I simply would not take.
3️⃣ If during the month of March we understand than more than 20% of the attendees cannot attend (whether due to country-based difficulties, e.g. no chance to receive the visa in time; or policy-based rules, e.g. most of my friends at global companies are already in a soft no-travel mode), then we also push the event to Q3.
The whole point of the Summit is to connect professionals from around the globe: you should be able to catch up with Vanessa on Brazil, Arata-san on Japan and Jack on China. It simply would not work if instead of 33 countries at the Summit, we have 16 or 20, with key regions missing out.
Current status (25/02/2020):
✅ There are zero cases in Lithuania and its neighbour countries.
✅ We have zero cancellations from any of the attendees.
✅ Status of the Summit: we proceed as scheduled.
Next checkpoint:
Let’s see where we are in one week, in two weeks and then in four weeks from now. We must keep our eyes on the ball: the Summit is a community event that serves a very specific purpose. And if we cannot make it properly at the end of April, then we’ll move it to the date that would work better for all of you.
Your personal check list:
a) all of the hotel bookings arranged via Alma with the hotels are 100% refundable up until 7 days before the arrival. So there’s no need to take any action there – and if we do move the event, then we will notify the hotels directly.
b) please check your flight tickets and your airline’s policy in case of a travel ban / change of travel dates, as there’s a non-zero chance that you may have to adjust to the situation at short notice.
With this topic off the list, let’s move to the program –
Sponsor list is now 100% complete for 2020!
With DLA Piper and DZP supporting this year’s Summit (thanks to Ryan Black and Jakub Kubalski), the list of sponsors for 2020 is now complete – thanks you, everyone!
This is the strongest show of confidence since we started the event back in 2015, and we’re going to try our best to use this support to improve your attendee experience.
Legal Run 2020 at 40 runners
In 2019, forty runners competed in the relay race; as of today, we’re at the same number for 2020, and we expect to have a few more sign-ups between now and the actual run.
This year’s rules are that each team will consist of 3 runners, and you get to choose your teammates ahead of the event: in a few weeks, I’ll reach out, and ask you to rate yourself as “occasional”, “casual” or “confident” runner (there’s also a fourth category specific to Willy Duhen: “professional”). I will then ask “occasional” runners to nominate a teammate from the “casual” category, who will in turn choose a “confident” member of their team.
Each category of runners will have their own track to compete, which makes it possible to mix and match team members to accommodate whatever selection we’ll end up with.
Legal Run's t-shirt: deadline approaching!
Above you can see this year’s Legal Run t-shirt design (the wording on the back is “ゲーム・インダストリー・チーム”, in case you want to run it through the Google Translate =).
If you participate in the run, you get this shirt for free. And if you want extras / you’re not running, then you can still purchase these shirts at cost (we pay €35/each to the manufacturer, it’s a technical running shirt made to the national sports team’s specs).
Important: the deadline for manufacturing is March 1, 2020. So you do have a few more days to sign up / place an order with Alma – otherwise it’s out of our hands, and we’re unable to add any more items to that order.
A bunch of minor (but pleasant) updates
We’re all set with the digestifs for the Formal Dinner –
Arrived today: a special delivery from 🇨🇾 Cyprus – a few boxes of Zivania and Commandaria by @TsiakkasWinery, the designated digestifs of this year’s Formal Dinner (04/30). Recommended by our partners at Chrysostomides and Karamanolis, delivered here by Wargaming’s GC ✈️ 🧳 🍷.
We also confirmed the order of 1,000 sticks of vanilla ice-cream with Ice Dunes (optional: dip it into melted 70% cocoa chocolate)
The devil is in the details. Here’s 5 shapes that we tested today for vanilla ice-cream on a stick (optional: dip it into melted 70% cocoa chocolate) produced by Paulius over at Ice Dunes specifically for this year’s Summit. Decision: shapes D and E, total order: 1.000 pieces.
Vilnius-based brewery Kuro Aparatura is busy preparing 1,200 bottles of their beer for the Summit, we keep 1 beer from 2019 and introduce 2 new flavours (both are very limited runs) –
This year’s beer comes from the same Vilnius brewer as in 2019: Kuro Aparatura (1.200 bottles).

We keep Marakešas (hopfenweizen) but drop Maukas and IPA in favor of Sakai (Kölsch-style beer brewed with pine needles) and Oišy (a soft-rounded beer brewed for export to Japan).
We received a couple of boxes of sake from Japan, which we will serve chilled during Day One’s coffee break (now officially renamed to “sake break”; Vytautas, Kempinski’s chef, is already working on the food items that will compliment the sake during this break) –
Just arrived: two boxes of BIJOFU Junmai for the Sake Break on Day One of the Summit (of course, coffee and tea will also be available). This reflects out shift from “caffeinated afternoons” to “relaxed afternoons” during the event. Rice polishing ratio: 60%, rice: Matsuyama Mii.
We also got the delivery of 100 double-walled tea glasses from Denmark that we’ll use at the Tea Corner to serve some of the teas (sencha, oolong and muscatel; paper cups work pretty well for the other types) –
Getting ready for the Tea Corner at this year’s Summit, which will be managed by Ernestas/Tealure! While double-walled paper cups work fine for assam and lemongrass teas, we needed something else to serve oolong, muscatel and sencha. Just arrived: 96 insulated glasses by Bodum.
Status update: Attendee Book
As you probably remember, Attendee Book is a big new thing for 2020. Happy news: over 80% of attendees have by now edited and approved their pages, and it looks great. And if you’re one of the people who got the email from Mindaugas but haven’t responded yet… please do! (though the chances of someone reading this newsletter but not reading our emails are pretty slim, I know =).
The deadline for the Attendee Book is March 15, 2020. This is when we finalise the layout to run test prints, and then hand it over to the printing house (it’s a big book, so we’ll need quite some time to fine-tune paper weight and colours). If you haven’t responded by March 15, then we won’t be able to include your page in the book.
Satus update: Formal Dinner
A couple of weeks ago, we started the booking process for the first 40 tables, at 6 guests each. As of now, we’re 65% booked (including 12 tables that are already fully booked).
Two changes from 2019:
* we no longer need you to choose your main course ahead of the dinner, this happens right at the table (Kempinski’s team has been very accommodating in this regard)
* if someone has been invited and does not respond with another invite within 5 days, we take over and invite the next guest based on our own best guess (we know that not everyone is able to answer on time, and we need to keep the process going).
Status update: the main hall is fully booked
As more in-house counsels started to confirm the seats that they’ve asked to set aside earlier, we’ve hit the full capacity of the main hall of the Palace (252 seats) and started to book additional seats on the balcony (which has a capacity of 50 more seats). You can find the updated list of attendees here. We are currently at 275 people from 33 countries.
Program? Program!!
Last week, we had a day-long board meeting in Hamburg that included 3 general counsels from global games companies and 4 law firm lawyers from three major regions. To say that it’s been both useful and enjoyable would be an understatement: picking some of the top legal brains in the industry for topics that are currently on the industry’s radar is something that I would happily do any day of the week.
Here, then, is the snapshot of the program that I’ll be developing in more detail over the coming two weeks:
  • Employee issues, a cross-country discussion: from unions to crunch time and to having different rules in different offices of the same company, we intend to look at the legal challenges of running a global games company.
  • M&A, a cross-country “pig-in-a-bag” panel: we’ll have a number if in-house counsels presented with fictional M&A cases (all based on real situations, though) that they’ll try to break apart in order to find hidden problems. This is intended to give you an idea of possible risks, so that we’re all better prepared without having to relive the same experience personally.
  • Legal Deathmatch 2.0: we started with the idea of playing FIFA and having to calculate royalty rates in parallel, with tequila shots as a penalty, but then got a much better idea (important: it doesn’t involve alcohol!). I’m not going to reveal the details but I’m already looking forward to seeing your faces (and the faces of competing teams) when the first slide of the Deathmatch is shown on the screen =).
  • Tools used by a legal team, a discussion: are you guys using jira? Have you gone all-hardcore with Redmine? Do you agree that the best place to make sure that nobody reads your document is to upload it to your company’s Confluence? We’d like to explore the use of tools in your teams, including possible automation/forms employed between business and legal.
  • Accessibility, a cross-country panel: there’s regulation and then there’s practice, such as bans issued to handicapped players who are mistakenly taken for cheaters by the detection software. We’d like to explore the topic in a broader sense.
  • Using influencers and brand ambassadors to promote games, a cross-country panel: just this morning I was told a story of a games company that signs up influencers on the condition that they stick to a word-by-word script when talking about their products in their “original” posts on the social media. We’re looking at a cross-country discussion of what’s allowed and what’s not, and what are the penalties for not knowing the difference.
  • Youth protection and age ratings, a cross-country update. A pretty technical content that’s been requested by multiple attendees.
  • Regional updates, a section. This year we do our best to move regional updates to relevant cross-country panels and presentations. Nevertheless, some of the regions have enough news to validate an update on their own: European Union; UK; Germany; India; Canada; and, possibly, South Korea.
  • Privacy beyond GDPR: a cross-country panel. From dealing with specific regional regulations to processing specific user requests and managing communities in general, there is a lot to discuss in terms of how we understand privacy and how we can make sure that we protect individual rights without breaking the law or inconveniencing other users
  • Music in video games: a cross-country panel. Licensing pre-existing music and commissioning new music may sound straightforward, until you get a call from a collection agency or have a hundred of walkthroughs taken down on YouTube based on the sound fingerprint. And then there are issues of running out of music license while having a valid license for the game, as well as having an in-game performance (or playing music at a real-life event, which in some territories is easy and in some may lead to your stream being blanked out). We spent a good hour talking about all the current, practical issues that games companies currently face and we think we’ll spend at least the same time at the Summit, exploring the topic from the cross-country perspective.
  • Games companies in crisis, testing for fragility: a discussion. From facing a class-action lawsuit to getting hot coffee that you never ordered, there’s a whole range of events that may kick off a crisis at a games company. And while we cannot prepare to every possible event in the life of a studio, we can test the legal team (and the company itself) for fragility, identifying weak spots before they actually break due to pressure. We’d like to explore the ways of preventing crisis by looking for signs of fragility, robustness and anti-fragility, and the ways of dealing with a fully-blown crisis once it’s upon us.
  • Managing litigation, a cross-country panel. How do you decide whether to litigate or not? How do you budget litigation, and what do you look for in a law firm that you hire to go to court? Do you believe in the “Chinese walls” (as an in-house counsel) and how do you deal with the “Disney strategy” (as a law firm)? At the board meeting, we’ve traded a bunch of war stories, some of which cannot be discussed in public, but regardless of the specifics, we’re eager to discuss the principles of managing litigation – from both sides! – across different regions.
  • Auditing games companies (by Marty Katz), US-China trade war (by Greg Pilarowski) and Open-source software in games industry (by Anna Haapanen) are the three topics that we’ve discussed earlier, and that remain in the program.
  • Restricted content, a cross-country presentation: we think that it’s a good time to put together a list of prohibited/restricted content across the world, so that we can all have a better idea of what is limited, and where exactly it is limited. The presentation won’t be long, but we expect it to be highly technical and of practical use.
  • Cross-border litigation and enforcement, a cross-country discussion: what happens when you take your court decision from France to China, or from USA to Germany? Sometimes, good things happen; and sometimes, you’ll get nothing. We’d like to have a number of lawyers from different regions share their experience, and advice, on this topic, which is pretty specific.
If you’ve read the above, and felt like something important is missing – please let me know. In the next two weeks, I’ll be contacting the people who signed up to present – as well as those whom the presenters would like to invite to their panels.
…and that’s it for today.
Hopefully, the SARS2/COVID-19 pandemic gets curbed sooner rather than later, and the Summit proceeds as scheduled. But even if things get tough, we’ll still manage: if not in April, then a bit later!
With this, I give you the map of Iceland that will help you understand what dyslexia feels like (speaking about accessibility in games, yes) –
Did you enjoy this issue?
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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Games Industry Law Summit is organized by Charlie Oscar Lima Tango Interactive Entertainment UAB