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Games Industry Law Summit - Stats & Updates (also, who's at GDC?)

Games Industry Law Summit
Games Industry Law Summit - Stats & Updates (also, who's at GDC?)
By Sergei Klimov • Issue #56 • View online
2020 is off to a pretty challenging start: Australia is on fire, China is in quarantine, Iran goes through another period of trouble – and we haven’t even reached February yet. Here’s a bit of news and some event stats to catch up, then.

--- Australia ---
Quite a lot of games companies came together to provide relief to Australia, which was dealt a major blow by the escalating climate crisis. Some studios came up with their own campaigns – like Bungie:
As Guardians, it's our duty to assist those in need. 

To support the Australia fire relief efforts, all proceeds of the new "Guardians for Australia" shirt and emblem will go towards @NSWRFS and @WIRES_NSW.

And some joined forces – like the teams that donated their games for the Humble’s Australian Fire Relief Bundle:
According to Kotaku, this bundle raised over $2 million, with 68,000 customers who often purchased the bundle even though they already owned most of the games included – just as a way of directing their contributions towards the relief effort.
--- China ---
The whole situation with the epidemic in Wuhan is anything but simple; as always, you have the heroes and the villains; and just like with the SARS and with Chernobyl, the importance of clear communication is again underlined (in blood).
As some of you may know, my father was at the reactor site in Chernobyl right on the day when it blew up (it was his birthday, too – and by pure chance, he went to a dentist at that hour). Since he and his friends were scientists, they managed to join the liquidation effort without getting themselves killed by the radiation; 90% of the other people in the zone were not so lucky, though.
The biggest lesson that he shared with me when I grew up enough to process the information, was how most of the people who died from overexposure to radiation at Chernobyl did so because of the incompetence and cowardice of the bureaucrats. The Communist Party kept lying about the level of danger, and so the firefighters drove to their deaths without any protective clothing, while the common folk were encouraged to march on a Labour Day parade through Kyiv – at the time when it was already known that the city is covered in a radioactive cloud. On those days I was still in elementary school, and I remember how my grandmother came over to tell me and my friends that if the winds change, we must all stay indoors (while the teacher of our class, a loyal party member, told her off for spreading the panic).
Here, then, is a story about how on January 1, 2020 the police in Wuhan arrested 8 people accused of “spreading untruthful information” about “viral pneumonia”. That “pneumonia” will turn out to be the new coronavirus, and those “suspects” will turn out to be the doctors who tried to stop the epidemics early on (one of whom contracted the virus while treating patients).
If you’re running a multiplayer game, then this is the equivalent of banning players that report issues with your server: rather than helping to identify the problem early on, to avoid a shutdown for thousands of players, this squashes the (still small) issue for now, with a (much larger) payback later on.
At the same time, the epidemics highlights problems not only in China, but also outside. Perhaps I am naive, but I’m still surprised at how some of the people in my social feed (including industry colleagues) reason that “China is rich, so they don’t deserve our sympathy” – not to mention the purely racist statements that Chinese “deserve it for eating whatever they eat”.
Here is a story of how the Wuhan epidemics looks first-hand, as told by a husband whose pregnant wife got sick, and then died, while they burned through all of their family savings in the attempt to save her. At the end of the day, this is not about China, or Hubei, or Wuhan. This is about people and their suffering in the face of this disease, and the only humane response is to feel compassion. Nobody “deserves” this; not in China, and not elsewhere.
In terms of relief, I haven’t seen much from the games industry, but perhaps this is simply due to the language barrier: I assume that most major Chinese games (and tech) companies would be already involved, whether through help with the logistics, or through help with securing the supplies, or through both. With the information flow being what it is, we can only guess.
It was by pure accident that I learned this week, that Victor Kislyi (Wargaming’s CEO and founder) donated $10 million to help bring into China the required medical supplies. According to Google Translate, Wargaming’s local partner (360) helps them to use these funds where they are needed the most (the original article is here, in Chinese).
--- Poland ---
That Russia sees its judges as the mere executioners of the president’s will is no news; the news, though, is that Poland seems hell-bent on joining that club –
Notes from Poland 🇵🇱
A deputy minister says he "doesn't give a damn" about today's Supreme Court ruling because he is "on the side of Poles" and "these 60 professors are not authorities for me".

"I am insulted by judges who usurp the right to decide what is the law in Poland and what is not."
If I were a company that had a potentially huge deal with a Polish business partner… I’d probably disagree with declaring Poland as the location of a possible litigation? Just because I’ve seen how quickly the court system can go from “growing its independent roots” to “hollowed out”, and I don’t want to be in court where a newly appointed judge will want to be “on the side of Poles” (as opposed to “on the side of law”).
Not all news from Poland is grim, though. This interview with Sapkowski, the author of The Witcher, is a gift that keeps on giving:
--- Legal Challenge IV ---
If you follow the best games industry moot court that ever existed (sorry, I got carried away with the Sapkowski’s interview), that is – our Summit’s Legal Challenge – then you would know that by now, Stage II is already in progress.
Registered teams: 21
Less DSQ after Stage 0: 17
Less DSQ after Stage I: 15
Here’s how the teams break down, in terms of country flags that they have chosen to fly –
And here’s the breakdown by the passports of team participants:
It makes me happy that at least 2 semifinalists of the previous editions of this competition participate in 2020 as the coaches, sharing their experience with their younger peers.
--- Sponsors ---
The way we see the Summit on the inside is that we, the operations team (all three of us), are simply a support and structure network for the professional community, and as such our value is mostly in creating opportunities for nice people to connect with each other, for their mutual benefit (so we’re like Nokia, but with “nice” and “in games industry” added to their motto).
Like Tesla, we don’t advertise, we don’t have any discounts or special rates, and we don’t accept any commercial content (oh, the stories I could tell!), so that the event lives and dies through the recommendations of its attendees.
If the event grows, then it’s because the community gets stronger. We cannot make lawyers any better than they already are, but we can connect good lawyers with other good lawyers, so that games industry has its own reliable network for sharing professional experience.
In 2020, about 30% of the Summit’s budget comes through sponsorship, and we’re thankful for all the support that we receive, which allows us to stay focused on improving the attendee experience:
Among the sponsors who joined the Summit recently are Chrysostomides (🇨🇾), Karamanolis (🇨🇾), Ozdagistanli Ekici (🇹🇷) and Semenov & Pevzner (🇷🇺), and we’re very grateful for all the extra support that they afford us.
--- Summit's private Discord server ---
A few years earlier, we tried experimenting with the Summit’s own Slack server, but we were a bit too ahead of the curve, and at that time most people were unfamiliar with the platform.
Last year, we set up a private Discord server, and it proved to be more sticky: as of now, there’s close to a hundred law firm and in-house lawyers who use it to share region-specific information (and, occasionally, coordinate meet-ups).
If you’d like to join, please send me an email (once you join, I’ll need to assign you the appropriate role). Important: the server is restricted to people who already attended the Summit before or whom we know personally, i.e if you attend in 2020 for the first time, then we’ll be happy to on-board you right after the event.
The reason for this is that we’d like to keep the server as “real” as possible, so that each handle has a face and a story behind it.
--- GDC 2020 ---
If you attend the upcoming GDC, please let us know / post in community/#meetups on Discord. At least half a dozen of people from the Summit’s community are there and I’m sure that all the SF-based lawyers would be happy to buy a drink (or two) to those among you who will be visiting.
--- Attendee Stats ---
As of now, we have 245 confirmed registrations. The list (somewhat lagging as it takes a few days to add people there) is here. We currently hold a few more seats for the in-house counsels that are in the process of approving their budgets. If you’re one of these people, then there’s a chance that you may have to grab a seat on the balcony (the view is great, but no food or drinks are allowed).
Above, you can see the current split between in-house (47%) and law firm (53%) attendees.
Overall, we have 110 companies/firms represented.
Why this is important? Because in 2020, we launch the Summit Trading Card Game ™ for the first time. We’ll share the rules once we’re done designing the whole thing. It’s fairly simple and it involves trading cards with other attendees, then claiming prizes.
Finally, the current country count is 32:
🇯🇵 🇰🇷 🇨🇳 🇸🇬 🇺🇸 🇨🇦 🇧🇷 🇮🇸 🇸🇪 🇩🇰 🇫🇮 🇪🇪 🇱🇹 🇧🇾 🇷🇺 🇺🇦 🇵🇱 🇨🇿 🇩🇪 🇷🇸 🇷🇴 🇮🇹 🇪🇸 🇫🇷 🇳🇱 🇧🇪 🇬🇧 🇮🇪 🇹🇷 🇨🇾 🇦🇪 🇮🇳
--- Agenda Updates ---
Across the two days of the Summit, there will be 14 hours (and a half) of content, i.e. panels and presentations.
A big focus this year is making almost everything cross-country: gone are the days when we could afford a dedicated general-audience presentation on Ukraine or, say, Turkey.
At the same time, Working Lunch on Day 2 is here to provide a smaller audience that will be more interested in a specific topic, and we currently plan to set aside 10 tables x 10 attendees for this format. We’re still trying to bend our heads around the best way to run the sign-up for these, though, and it’ll be a few weeks before we figure.
Here’s a couple of topics where we would love to hear from you, if you’d like to contribute your expertise (from the position of your own region):
  • Open Source – we’ve covered Nordics, Germany and Eastern Europe; we’ll talk about both the theory and the practice (two people on this panel have been/still are involved in multi-million litigation); if you’re coming from outside of these regions/work in-house, and you have experience to share – please page me.
  • Games Companies Dealing with Crisis – here, “crisis” means everything, from new regulation that threatens a business model to litigation risks and to layoffs. We’re exploring the idea of bringing up a discussion of soft skills that can be valuable in such cases, the ways that external lawyers can provide support to their clients, and ways of dealing with threats such as litigation risks. If this sounds like something you have experience with… bitte, schreiben Sie mir!
--- micro updates ---
These updates are so small that they don’t even get capitalised:
Because we couldn’t find 126 high-quality tables to rent neither in 🇱🇹, nor in 🇱🇻, 🇪🇪 or even in 🇮🇩, we commissioned our own tables. Today we received the first specimen, which we’re totally happy about. Now every attendee will be able to check emails while listening to talks.
This year, the Formal Dinner returns on April 30. We secured the beeswax candles from the same beekeeper who supplied us in 2019, because we really like the way they smell /the last photo shows smaller candles we’ll use on the Summit’s cake (carrot!) during the Reception Dinner/
We’ve asked one of the attendees to come up with the wolf-inspired illustration that we could use in the lobby of PACAI during the Summit. Here’s the rough sketch. The final print needs to be 2m long + we may use it on the postcards announcing 2021 dates.
Und hier kommt the updated technical running shirt for the Summit’s Legal Run.

The back says:


We think it’s pretty classic, and underlines the fact that Japan both exports and imports games culture elements.
We’re starting to confirm the wine list for this year’s event. It’s time to change the Italian red from 2018 and 2019 (Marco Felluga Carantan) to some great red from Spain. Here are the two runners-up: Viña Real Rioja Gran Reserva 2013 vs Calvados Del Puntido Rioja Cosecha 2015.
On the subject of the last tweet: we settled on Vińa Real Gran Reserva Rioja 🇪🇸, which has a higher rating, a lower alcohol content, and is available in magnums.
For champagne, we return to Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve 🇫🇷 (also in magnums), and for white we return to Marco Felluga Russiz Superiore Sauvignon Blanc Collio DOC 🇮🇹 (magnums, too).
We’re still looking for rose, though, which is this year’s ambition in terms of expanding the wine list: we’ve tried a few French options, but they’re either simply too bad or way too meaty, while we’re after something light and summer-y.
And, great news: not only is Tsiakkas Commandaria 🇨🇾 back as a digestif for the Formal Dinner, but…
…2019’s grappa is replaced by something that, I think, many of you haven’t tried before – Tsiakkas Zivania 🇨🇾:
As to other food/drinks updates, I’ll save these for later. But as a teaser: the crazy crew at Kuro Aparatūra, our beer producer of choice in 2019, will be back in 2020 with a couple of new brews; one of them featuring pine needles 🌲.
And Ice Dunes, the team that’s behind the ice-cream corner, are almost done with the Summit menu, which will feature something that I always dreamed of as a Soviet kid: vanilla ice-cream on a stick that you then dip into melted chocolate.
--- PS ---
Alma asked me to remind you about the hotel bookings: first, please make sure that you have some; second, VILNIA just had a cancellation from a tour group, and thus has a few standard rooms newly available (which offer great value).
--- PPS ---
A lot of the attendees have already received their Attendee Book pages for edits/approval: here’s word of thanks to those who returned their material, and a gentle reminder to those who wrote back that they’ll “come back soon” – but so far haven’t. Please don’t forget about us! 📖
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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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Games Industry Law Summit is organized by Charlie Oscar Lima Tango Interactive Entertainment UAB