Ever since that kerffule surronding Nintendos want to shut down not only the stream of EVO's Super Smash Bros. Melee tournament but the actual tournament itself, I have been wondering what legal ground does Nintendo have to do this.
Well acording to Ars Technica
Video games are treated differently, though, primarily because they exist on a screen rather than a board. "A video game under copyright law is an audiovisual work, which gives a public performance right of the copyright holder," Dallas attorney and Law of the Game blog author Mark Methenitis explained in an interview with Ars. "Under the public performance right, the copyright holder is allowed to say when, where, or whether something is publicly performed, meaning displayed in front of a group of people larger than, say, at your house."
In other words, if you want to put on a Street Fighter tournament and charge people to watch, Capcom can make you get a license for the "public performance" of the game.
Which makes sense but also seems kind of shitty. There is a lot more going on in the orginization of these tournaments beyond setting up a DVD and hitting play in a public place. The attraction isn't just the game but the people playing the game, the stream, and enviroment. It's interesting to see the distction made between video and board games. The latter dosen't run into many of these issues because it dosen't require a screen to play it on.
More worrisome is that this is a bit of a leagle gray area because there is not easy way to pay a licensing fee for a "public preformance". This is just like many gray areas in the Games Industry, where it's up to publishers and developers to just not really care about these events in a legal sense. Or things like streams, lets play's of their games, and others. Capcom does charge a licensing fee, which appears to be a subject of conttention among eSports organizers like MLG.
Personally I think this is just another sign of how boned our copyright system is in terms of catching up to new media and how we interact with it.
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