I recently had the pleasure to be invited to give a talk at the wonderfully niche Gikii conference, organised by Andres Guadamuz (aka Technollama) and Lillian Edwards in Berlin this year. The event was hosted by the Alexander von Humboldt Centre for Internet and Society (HIIG), and covered topics such as monetising celebrity gut flora, monkeys as copyright holders, privacy in the Marvel universe and a number of questions about the urge to connect everything to the Internet of Things. Below you will find a brief overview of my paper, as well as the slides from the presentation. Continue reading Do Cyborgs Dream of Electric Lawsuits? – Gikii 2015
If you are a video game enthusiast, a fan of DC’s favourite parentless posterboy, or simply a person who has paid attention to Twitter, Facebook or one of the various platforms through which we crowd-source our real-time news, you may have heard that a little, hotly-anticipated game, entitled Batman: Arkham Knight was released this week… You may also have heard that a number of people were rather less than delighted with the quality of said game at release – particularly the PC gaming community, a difficult community to placate at the best of times. What seems to have happened is that Warner Bros, the publishers behind this game, have released a PC-port (meaning the game was primarily designed for console and then adapted for PC) which is laughably unfinished, riddled with graphical issues, and plagued by problems with stuttering and freezing (OK, I’m not quite out of Batman villain references, but this could go on for days). In the wake of this debacle, they have been quick to suspend sales of the PC version, pending further invesitgation. Continue reading Batman: Arkham Knight – The Video Game Refund You Deserve
I was recently lucky enough to be asked to give a short presentation at the 2014 Edinburgh Postgraduate Law Conference, entitled “Innovation in the Law: New Challenges, New Perspectives“. The organising committee, in conjunction with the Edinburgh Law School and the Institute for Academic Development put on a great two-day event, creating a brilliant opportunity for PhD students, early career researchers, established academics and interested parties to swap ideas, talk at length about their personal obsessions, bemoan the constant struggles that are funding, exercising the power to say “no”, and engage in ample usage of the term “interdisciplinary”. I’d like to thank again all involved in the organisation of a thoroughly enjoyable event, and of course the Forschungsstelle für Verbraucherrecht for continuing to finance my wanderings around Europe in the name of digital consumer protection.
The talk I gave in the panel on “Technology and Law: Confronting Uncertainty, Testing Promises“, was entitled “2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back: The Problematic Protection of Consumers of Digital Content“, the article and slideshow for which you can find below. Rather than the traditional (and oft beset by delays) practice of publishing conference proceedings in a printed version, the conference chose the novel approach of asking the speakers to present their ideas in a 1,000-word blog post, which was then made available on the conference website for anyone who wanted to read up on the topics in advance on the talks. I thought this was a particularly useful tool in preparing for the panels I attended. Continue reading 2 Steps Forward, 1 Step Back: The Problematic Protection of Consumers of Digital Content
As some of you might remember, a few months back I wrote about imminent reforms to UK copyright law exceptions, including finally allowing users to create backup copies and ‘personal copies for private use’ of their digital media (such as burning a CD onto your computer, or transferring music to your MP3 player or phone…. yes, up ’til now this wasn’t actually allowed), and all-importantly introducing a parody exception to copyright law in the UK. In March the UK Intellectual property Office (IPO) also issues a guidance paper on copyright exceptions, which can be viewed here. However, these changes were significantly delayed from their original implementation goal of June, as the Parliament continued to debate the exact scope, wording and effects of these changes. Continue reading Reforms to UK Copyright Exceptions FINALLY Come Into Effect
For those of you who feel that you simply don’t feel like a secret agent quite enough in your day-to-day life, I stumbled upon an article on Gizmodo on self-destructing SSDs. For those of you who might not know (and yes, some readers might not know; my mother reads this site… from time to time…. OK, when I specifically ask her to), SSD stands for “solid state drive“, and they are, and have been for quite some time, heralded as poised to finally do away with your clunky, overheating mechanical hard drive. This is old news to most, and the benefits of switching to SSDs, especially for gaming, have been discussed at length by others. But now there is one more reason to switch over and make yourself feel that little bit more futuristic and badass. Continue reading This Hard Drive Will Self-Destruct in 5 Seconds…
UPDATE: The text of the Regional Court of Berlin’s dismissal of the vzbv’s case has been published by Spielerecht.de. As suggested below, the vzbv’s focus on Steam accounts themselves rather than individual licences for games may have been unhelpful, but in addition the court seemed unconvinced that video games were merely software, but rather a mix of a number of elements, and as such Usedsoft may not be directly applicable. A helpful update, in English, of these developments and the court’s reasoning has been provided by Felix Hilgert and Konstantin Ewald of Spielerecht.de “Update: Valve May Prohibit Steam Account Transfers – German Judgment Published”
John Walker, of Rock, Paper, Shotgun, recently wrote a very interesting (not to mention comprehensive) article entitled “Why Games Should Enter the Public Domain” on the place of Public Domain in the video game industry. His argument is particularly interesting in that he goes even further than the standard pro-public domain and pro-creative commons attitudes of many gamers and consumers of digital media. He argues for a radical restructuring of how intellectual property rights are handled in this area, with a suggested strong reduction of the length and strength of intellectual property protection for creators. Furthermore, Walker does not simply write this from the standpoint of an ‘everything-should-be-free’, unrealistic consumer, but rather also as a man who has benefited economically from his own video game journalism. One of the key points to take away from Walker’s argument is that the lengthy protection currently afforded to most works in this industry do not in fact end up benefiting the “creators” themselves (a tricky group to pin down at the best of times, as the core development team can span from solo undertakings to the hundreds), but rather the large publishing and media giants who retain the rights to such games. Continue reading Rock, Paper, Public Domain
Recently, whilst doing some research on the concept of ownership and licensing in the video game industry, I came across a very interesting paper by Christopher J Cifrino entitled “Virtual Property, Virtual Rights: Why Contract Law, Not Property Law, Must Be the Governing Paradigm in the Law of Virtual Worlds“. In this paper, Cifrino argues (unsurprisingly if you read the title) that contract law might actually be the best and fairest way to continue dealing with the legal relationship between the gamer/consumer and the developer and/or publisher. Continue reading EULAs and Online Gaming – Simply a Better Fit Than Property Law?