Author Archives: michela

Chris Bennett of Davis LLP Speaking this Week…..

Hi Class,

Out guest speaker this week is Chris Bennett, a partner at Davis LLP. Chris is the head of the IT Law Group and Trade-marks Law Group and is a member of the firm’s Intellectual Property, Technology & Outsourcing, Video Games & Interactive Entertainment, and Franchise & Distribution Law Groups.

Chris was recognized by Best Lawyers in Canada 2013 as a leading lawyer in Information Technology Law, and by Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory as a Leading Practitioner in Computer and IT Law.

His specialties include the creation, protection, enforcement and commercialization of intellectual property rights; and development, distribution, licensing and support of software, video games and other technology.

He has indicated that he plans to talk about due diligence relating to video game company transactions.

He has a really interesting video game law blog with some great entries. If anyone wants to check it out the link is:

Looking forward to it!

–          Michela and Tyler

Could it Pay to Read that EULA? – Incentivising to Increase Consumer Readership by Michela Fiorido

After reading Roch’s posts and thinking more about EULAs, I got to brainstorming some ideas that might increase consumer readership. Some might ask why it matters that consumers read EULAs in the first place and some might ask why companies should care to get consumers to read their agreements. Consumers should read EULAs so that they are made aware of clauses that a lot would not agree to. An example is EA and their new game service Origin where, originally, before it stirred up so much attention, the EULA stated that by installing the application, permission is given to “collect, use, store and transmit technical and related information that identifies your computer, operating system, application usage (including but not limited to successful installation and/or removal), software, software usage and peripheral hardware.” In other words, you are giving EA access to your computer hard drive.

On a lighter note – you could get $1,000 like this lucky person for reading a EULA:

So why then, should companies care to get people to read EULAs to the point of providing incentives? Because maybe then, if a judge knows that a person has scrutinized the agreement, it might actually be enforceable.

Ideas to increase consumer readership:

Sprinkle in various prizes throughout the agreement, like PC Pitstop did in the link posted above. These could be monetary prizes or they could be a code for unlocking a special weapon, character, or level in the game you have purchased.

Provide a list of code words, ask the consumer to locate them all throughout the agreement. When they are found, the specific paragraph numbers are sent back to the company and the consumer is entered into a draw for a prize.

The most drastic but most effective – not allow the consumer to play the game until they read the agreement. Random letters, code, numbers or characters will be strategically placed throughout the agreement. The consumer must locate them all, in order, and input it into the opening screen of the game in order to begin playing.

Of course with these comes the issue of transferability, if you sell your game, the password has already been used and the new user will have no incentive to read the agreement.

Any other ideas/thoughts on ways to increase EULA readership? Is it even necessary? And even then, will the EULA be enforceable?

Buying, Selling and Stealing Virtual Property – Does the current law protect or disrespect? by Michela Fiorido

After such an interesting guest speaker last week who talked a bit about in-game purchases, I got to thinking a lot about virtual property – the acquisition of it, the sale of it, the theft of it – and how the rise of virtual property might change the face of the law.

Consider the following article:

Now consider the ownership rights of that property……

There really aren’t any. (not in North America anyway)

Virtual property created in virtual worlds has yet to be formally recognized by law in Canada or the United States despite the fact that property obtained in the realm of video games is often given real-world, monetary value. This is corroborated by the fact that there are countless examples of the sale of virtual property in the real-world marketplace. My question is, since virtual property is being bought and sold in the real world, shouldn’t there be real-world legal implications for the theft of it?

I feel like North American courts and judges have consistently showed disrespect towards the gaming community, over-emphasizing violence and undermining and even belittling the importance of video games to many people’s lives (fodder for another blog post at a later time). This lack of respect towards gamers and their subsequent virtual property, has led to injustices that, currently, cannot be remedied by law.

Presently, ownership rights are determined by contract – which is an underlying theme of the course, often in the form of an end-user license agreement. While the specific terms of this agreement vary, most of them place virtual property rights with the developers, not the gamers who acquire the property. I looked up the World of Warcraft end user license agreement out of curiosity and sure enough, under the title “Ownership”:

All title, ownership rights and intellectual property rights in and to the Game and all copies thereof (including without limitation any titles, computer code, themes, objects, characters, character names, stories, dialog, catch phrases, locations, concepts, artwork, character inventories, structural or landscape designs, animations, sounds, musical compositions and recordings, audio-visual effects, storylines, character likenesses, methods of operation, moral rights, and any related documentation) are owned or licensed by Blizzard.

It is important to mention that there are signs of other countries beginning to recognize virtual property rights as per the case in our class text about Li Hongchen (p 158-159) whose stolen virtually property was actual restored.

While this discussion is much too large for a simple blog post, my intention is to provoke a discussion of virtual property, mainly, should virtual property be legally protected? Who should be the owner of virtual property? Should gamers be allowed to sell their virtual property for real money? (Indeed, some end-user license agreements restrict this) And finally, how can the law adapt to issues surrounding virtual property? Should it?

Asking the Wrong Questions and Looking in the Wrong Places – By Michela Fiorido

Obama calls for game violence research:

It is truly baffling to me that people immediately jump to blame violent video games when a shooting happens and that now $10 million dollars will be spent on game violence research. What ever happened to plain old criminology? There are a myriad of other ways to explain such tragedies but for political leaders to be so quick to point the finger at video games reeks of intolerance, stereotyping, sexism and ultimately disrespect. Violent video games are so pervasive now that, in my opinion, it is akin to saying that there is a connection between young men who wear shorts and violence. Virtually every young man wears shorts. Virtually every young man plays violent video games. There are no actual numbers that I could find regarding the percentage of men who play violent video games but we can assume from the fact that since over 85% of video games include violence (in whatever capacity) that the numbers are high.

But what’s with talking about men all the time anyways?

I take offence to the fact that violent video games are being blamed for shootings because, like a large portion of the gaming culture, it completely disregards the fact that women play violent video games too and make up nearly half of all gamers. 62 mass shootings — defined as a single spree that killed at least four people — have been carried out in the U.S. since 1982. Only one was perpetrated by a female. In 2006, Jennifer San Marco fatally shot her former neighbor, then drove to work and killed six colleagues before turning her gun on herself ( If women play these games too, then why are there virtually no mass shootings committed by women? Probably because there are other criminological factors such as simply being male, having a mental illness (Adam Lanza, Dylan Kleebold anyone?), checking off the majority of boxes on Hare’s psychopathy checklist (Eric Harris anyone?). Or maybe because they interact with anti-social peers (differential association) or  for whatever reason feel they cannot achieve popularity, fame, wealth etc through legitimate means and therefore attempt to obtain these things through crime instead (theory of anomie, strain theory). Or perhaps they do not play sports or have pro-social relationships? (social control theory). These are much more plausible reasons for a mass shooting.

Ultimately, we are asking the wrong question.

The question should not be asking why people commit mass shootings. It should be asking why people don’t commit mass shootings. Since there are so many gamers, we must ask why young men who play violent video games do not commit violent acts if we really want to find out what actually causes these mass shooting tragedies. And I am willing to bet that video games are not the cause.