Lucky you! It’s 2016 and “professional gamer” is a legitimate profession. With high-dollar prizes, endorsement deals, sponsorship and streaming opportunities, pro-gaming is officially a booming industry where elite players make bank — just like non-digital professional athletes.
However, getting to the top takes considerable work and business savvy. Skills are paramount, but you also have to build a fan base, find funding, and navigate certain legalities.
So, right now, let’s review a few eSport business considerations.
eSports Law Introduction
ESports law involves issues related to intellectual property, contractual negotiations, and various Internet regulations.
Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices are a profit-halting nuisance for gaming professionals who stream game play. Content-hosting platforms, like YouTube and Twitch, tend to avoid legal tussles with corporate King Kongs. So, they’re more likely to remove content instead of thoroughly investigating every DMCA request.
Legally, the DMCA puts the proof burden on defendants. Most sites use ToS (Terms of Service) agreements that extricate websites from intellectual property disputes involving users’ content. Or, in more basic terms: platforms (in most situations), aren’t responsible for the $#!+ users post.
False DMCA Takedown Requests
What if you’re slapped with a false DMCA takedown? Here’s the good news. First, you’d have to prove it’s an invalid request. If successful, you may be able to recover legal fees, and more, because filing a false DMCA takedown notice is a punishable act.
Contracts are a huge part of eSports law.
Straight up: players need to approach negotiations like a boss. Invest in an eSports lawyer to broker endorsement, sponsorship, team or player agreements. Having a well-drafted contract could be the difference between getting screwed and making bank.
Streaming Right Issues
Building a sustainable pro-gaming career means leveraging sponsorships.
But exercise caution: many contracts are freighted with pro-corporate parameters that strip players of creative and business rights. For example, some agreements forbid streaming, which effectively prohibits players from earning money on the side.
Team contracts are a significant part of eSports law. Unfortunately, sometimes, corporate brass pulls the proverbial legal wool over players’ eyes. Again, to avoid shenanigans (or gaming servitude), work with a professional negotiator who crafts win-win plans for players and teams.
Employment Law Considerations
Thinking of starting an eSports business? Are you a player building a brand? Either way, your eSports business might be subject to tax regulations that could affect future profitability. Plus, if you hire staff — like publicity specialists — you must adhere to employment regulations, which differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction; so, location is something to consider.
Consult With An eSports Lawyer
If you’ve read this entire article, then you know this: eSports contracts and negotiations are the foundations of a sustainable pro-gaming career. For the best profit potential, and opportunity autonomy, team up with an eSports attorney that knows the niche well.
Aaron Kelly is a passionate hobby gamer and top-rated lawyer who works with pro-gamers. He is a grandmaster of contract drafting. Even better? One of his partners, Daniel Warner, is an incredible litigator (his photographic memory helps).