By Jon Festinger on January 24, 2015
22. Obama and Cameron’s ‘solutions’ for cybersecurity will make the internet worse: Drafting policies to imprison people who share an HBO GO password? Eliminating end-to-end data encryption? They can’t be serious
29. The age of Amazon is upon us: How one court battle reveals the growing threat of monopoly – Federal judges recently heard arguments in the latest case between Amazon and Apple. Here’s what you need to know
40. Stream On?: How Canadian Law Views Online Streaming Video (Michael Geist)
49. Why Bitcoin is and isn’t like the Internet (Joichi Ito)
58. Among the Disrupted (Leon Wieseltier)
60. Why the modern world is bad for your brain: In an era of email, text messages, Facebook and Twitter, we’re all required to do several things at once. But this constant multitasking is taking its toll.
By joss on January 19, 2015
The paper identifies and addresses three key areas: female portrayal in games, women working in the industry and female professional gamers. It ultimately decides that more industry support in all three sections is key to changing the deeply ingrained misogynistic culture. You can find it here.
I’ve had a few misgivings about publishing it. On one hand, I completely agree with the knowledge sharing and community culture that is UBC Law (and the internet in general!) Although I know the paper is flawed, if it is even vaguely interesting to someone else then that’s super. What’s more, no matter how inconsequential, anything that encourages people to think (and hopefully act) to improve the misogynistic culture surrounding gaming has some value. On the other hand, I wonder if posting the paper is a smart idea. In light of what happened to Anita Sarkeesian, Jennifer Hepler, Zoe Quinn and numerous others, if there’s one thing I’ve learnt from researching this paper is that the trolls lurking at the bottom of the internet can cruelly act without any consequences. Although I’m fairly sure a lone law student’s paper isn’t that interesting to 4chan, I really don’t fancy being doxxed. Also, it’s a bit embarrassing to publish your coffee-fuelled paper.
Hopefully you enjoy it! Please post any comments below as I’d be really interested to hear what other people think about this live issue.
By Ryan Vogt on January 19, 2015
In the interest of sharing for future years (hope it helps!), here is an abstract for the key issue explored in my 2014 VGL paper, “A Canadian Legal Framework for Charity Video Game Marathons”.
Charity video game marathons (“marathons”) are events not well known outside the community of staunch gamers. Gamers play video games back-to-back relay style, streaming the event online, to raise money for charity donated by viewers around the world. This paper considers the legal analysis of such marathons in a Canadian context: an event with Canadian participants gathering at a Canadian location to play for a Canadian charity.
The primary issue in this paper is whether participants and organizers (“attendees”) at such events are in breach of copyright. Section 3(1)(f) of the Copyright Act defines copyright to include the sole right to communicate via telecommunication, to the public, a literary work (including a computer program like a video game). Because viewers of online marathons typically watch the stream live and make no recordings of it, such ephemeral streams are an example of telecommunication: ESA v SOCAN, 2012 SCC 34. As such, the attendees of marathons are prima facie in violation of copyright.
However, it may be possible to save the attendees from liability by considering s. 29.21 of the Copyright Act, which sets out a four-point test for whether a derivative work not in violation of copyright has been created:
Subsections (b) and (c) of the test are likely trivially met, provided that attendees mention the name of the game they are playing, and that they are playing a non-infringing copy of the game.
Subsection (d) requires no substantial adverse effect (e.g., financial) on the exploitation of the game. It is likely met because the performances of games at marathons are typically unique, glitchy, and have added commentary and antics. These unique performances likely drives increased interest in, and sales of, the games: see SOCAN v Bell Canada, 2012 SCC 36.
Subsection (a) requires that any purported infringement be non-commercial. This subsection may be met by considering Ben and Esther Dayson Charitable Foundation v British Columbia, (1996) 140 DLR (4th) 763 (BCSC). In Dayson, actions that further the goals of a charitable organization were found themselves to be charitable and thus non-commercial.
With all four points of the s. 29.21 test potentially met, which would demonstrate that performances of games at marathons are derivative works of the original copyright games, it may be possible to save marathon attendees from liability for copyright infringement.
However, we propose that a clarification to the legal framework of s. 29.21 is required. Currently, only non-commercial purported infringement is protected. It is not the expected legal outcome that non-charity video game streamers who earn only small amounts of money on a streaming service, e.g., on Twitch.tv through infrequent streaming via the Twitch Partnership Program, should be considered in breach of copyright for broadcasting copyright game images and audio. Such small earnings, while not strictly non-commercial, are incidental for many streamers to the hobby of streaming. A modern approach that considers the growing hobby of streaming video games online, a built-in feature on the PlayStation 4, is required.
Best of luck to future years in VGL. Cheers!
By Jon Festinger on January 17, 2015
The final report on the Open Badges Video Game Law Project is out. At least in a preliminary way it shows that badges created a significant jump in website engagement. The deeper question is always “Why?” There are several Open Badges projects happening at UBC this semester so we should know more soon. The infographic replicated above and some additional commentary makes for very interesting reading, and can be found here: Video Game Law 423B Final Pilot Project Report | Open Badges.
By Jon Festinger on January 17, 2015
7. Can a Video Game Help Rape Survivors?: An upcoming Oculus Rift experience tracks a character’s recovery following a sexual assault—aiming to enable empathy, even therapy, for survivors and outsiders alike.
13. New Clues (Doc Searls & David Weinberger)
14. How Surveillance Causes Writers to Self-Censor (Bruce Schneier)
15. Code Is Law: But law is increasingly determining the ethics of code. (Jonathon Penney)
24. Copyright and Inequality (Lea Shaver)
30. Apple’s ‘unwritten rules’ spark discontent for some app developers: Developers making use of new iOS features – even some shown off at the software’s launch – are finding their apps rejected by App Store staff
37. The Town Without Wi-Fi: The residents of Green Bank, West Virginia, can’t use cell phones, wi-fi, or other kinds of modern technology due to a high-tech government telescope. Recently, this ban has made the town a magnet for technophobes, and the locals aren’t thrilled to have them.
By Jon Festinger on January 11, 2015
Here is my take on Sony Corporation – an enigma wrapped in a riddle from personal experience…
By Jon Festinger on January 11, 2015
Doesn’t get any more self-explanatory as a subject. No easy answers yet – but would make for a wonderful fair dealing/use test case.
By Jon Festinger on January 10, 2015
“I have learned much from my teachers, more from my peers, but most from my students…”
Papers graded, marks in. It’s time to say don’t be a stranger. But more than that it’s time to thank everyone in the eighth cohort of Video Game Law for your focus during class, your contributions between classes to the website, and the creative efforts represented by your research papers.
In my “welcome” post on September 2, 2014 (http://videogame.law.ubc.ca/2014/09/02/welcome-to-the-8th-cohort-of-video-game-law-ubc/) I asked “So what will be this years emergent themes? Impossible to know sitting here the night before class starts. All we can know is that in a year where the new generation of consoles find their feet, where the demographics of gamers has changed forever thanks to mobile devices, and where Facebook pays $2 Billion U.S. to purchase Oculus Rift, somethings gotta give…”
Looking back over the semester three emergent themes stood out for me:
1. #Gamergate was huge of course. For some in the public debate there seemed to be much confusion, as if magic circle concepts that might protect certain aspects of gameplay in limited circumstances, might apply to prevent legal and ethical culpability for direct intimidation, bullying and threats against Anita Sarkeesian, Zoe Quinn (and others). Thanks to the impact of first year law school, there seemed little doubt in anyones mind that we all live in one big world, of which the “virtual world” is but a part, and that the criminal law has jurisdiction over all of it. Of course at this point we don’t know the outcome of the ongoing criminal investigations – so that may provide fodder for next years class.
2. Introducing a post-structuralist analysis of video-games and finding that it fit rather well was the surprise of the semester. Most significantly having a coherent theory of how video-games really function in society has some practical benefits. It provided wonderful touchpoints with which to analyze whether the layers of legal and normative constraints applying to games makes sense or not. It was extremely gratifying to realize how many times these ideas showed up in posts, emails and even quite a few final papers. Trying to really understand the writings of Jacques Derrida remains for me an enigma wrapped in a riddle – making it all the more fun. There is indeed a lot of “play” in that system (pretty pathetic when I’m trying to make post-structuralist inside jokes isn’t it?
3. Our Oculus Rift class demonstrated that virtual reality has the potential to powerful and go far beyond games, and could have real uses in education. My thought going in was that the limitations of the technology would become obvious and we might be reminded that oftentimes things are over-hyped. That was decidedly not the case in our classroom experiment. Once again games are the bleeding edge of technology that eventually moves to broader pastures. This has happened before. Think “voice over IP” as an example, though there are many others.
Now that this edition of the course is done there are a lot of games to go through before the 9th cohort arrives. The picture at the top of this post represents “research” to be done…
Thanks again for a truly great semester.
By Jon Festinger on January 10, 2015
3. How imageboard culture shaped Gamergate: That tell-tale wedding of relentless hostility and ethical affectation is a peculiar youth subculture spilling out into the open web. Get ready for more of it.
21. Who’s the true enemy of internet freedom – China, Russia, or the US?: Beijing and Moscow are rightly chastised for restricting their citizens’ online access – but it’s the US that is now even more aggressive in asserting its digital sovereignty (Evgeny Morozov)
25. Big Mother Is Watching You: If you keep your fitness-related New Year’s resolutions in 2015, it’ll likely be thanks to the new wave of devices and apps that have taken monitoring things like newborn sleep patterns and blood oxygenation from geek hobby to mass-market juggernaut. But what happens when companies have access to the most mundane details about our bodies?
28. What Was Ello?
32. The Trouble With Sweeping Questions About the Internet – Pundits and scholars too often phrase queries that miss the point: The transformative power of any technology relies first on underlying human forces.
36. Why cash and copyright are bad news for creativity (Dan Hunter)
38. The Romantic Author and the Romance Writer: Resisting Gendered Concepts of Creativity (Rebecca Tushnet)