Category Archives: Politics and Law

Exploring The Psychology Of Civil Forfeiture Through Video Games

Bad Apples or Bad Laws? Testing the Incentives of Civil ForfeitureOriginally published on Game Politics.

Civil Asset Forfeiture is the process by which law enforcement can seize private property of citizens without ever needing to charge those citizens of committing a crime. Laws governing civil forfeiture vary from state to state but most states allow officers to seize any amount of money or property and keep the proceeds for department use.

This procedure is highly controversial and has many proponents as well as critics. Most critics equate civil forfeiture with highway robbery, while the proponents consider it another tool to fight crime and pay for law enforcement.

One critic of these laws is the Institute for Justice, a Libertarian law firm that fights civil forfeiture and other laws. As part of their continued efforts to fight these laws and inform the public of their impact, IJ has released the results of a behavioral study (PDF) they performed that seeks to answer the question of whether these laws benefit or harm the public. Continue reading Exploring The Psychology Of Civil Forfeiture Through Video Games

Revisting Let’s Play Videos: A Divine Knight Perspective

cropped-dkgaming_title_long.pngOriginally published on Divine Knight Gaming.

In the early part of last year, we wrote an article about our thoughts on Let’s Play videos and fair use. This was written in response to Nintendo’s choice to use YouTube’s Content ID system to claim ad revenue on user created videos of their games.

In that we wrote that fair use trumps any claim we may have on video’s depicting our games.

But for us, we don’t think that creating a video of you playing our game is anything but fair use. How can it not be? You are not creating direct copies of our games. So you are not infringing our right to be the sole distributor of our game. The videos are clearly transformative. Meaning, it is not a substitute for people buying our game as watching a video is a vastly different experience than actually playing it. Additionally, the majority of let’s play videos include content, such as commentary, that is not created by us. That is the copyright of the person creating the video. We provided a canvas, they made the painting. That is how we see it.

Because of these thoughts, we chose not to give explicit permission to create let’s play videos of our games because we have no to right to do so.

But now another issue has come up, one that was at issue back then, but didn’t make the headlines as it is now. This issue is whether game developers have any right to claim money made by let’s players. Why is this an issue now? Two reasons.

One is the news that PewDiePie made roughly $4million on let’s play videos last year alone. That is seriously a lot of money. I would love to do something that brought in that kind of cash.

The second reason is Fez creator Phil Fish’s response to that news. On Twitter, he wrote that Let’s Play video creators owe game developers a large portion of any money they make from those videos. This did not go well among a lot of people.

So we gave our general thoughts on this matter last year, but wanted to respond further. So we wanted to answer a few questions about our thoughts on this money issue. Questions are thanks to Oklahoma Game Developers (which I write for and own) Continue reading Revisting Let’s Play Videos: A Divine Knight Perspective

Are Tax Breaks For Game Developers Economically Sound?

Originally published on Game Politics

Throughout the US and around the world, game developers are fighting for tax incentives and breaks similar to those offered to other creative industries such as the movie industry. Many groups such as TIGA in the UK make the claim that such tax breaks are needed in order to compete with other nations for game development talent, competition created in part by the tax breaks and incentives offered in those competing nations.

While these fights for increased tax breaks rage on, one question seems to remain unasked. Are these tax incentives worth the trouble?

In its Video Game Nation coverage, Reason asks that very question.

Under the Texas Moving Image Industry Incentive Program, the Lone Star state has set aside $95 million in funds over the next two years toward grants for both filmmakers and developers—making it the largest incentive program in the nation. And so far it seems to be working. Texas is now only second to California when it comes to video game employment.

But are these subsidies creating enough economic growth to justify their cost? [Calvin H. Johnson, professor of law at the University of Texas at Austin], who specializes in tax law, thinks that video game makers are enjoying a tax deal that’s too good to be true.

“If you’re going to double the rate of return for federal subsidies then you really ought to have a good justification that the public is getting a benefit equal to that incredibly intense incentive,” Johnson states. “And I must admit, I’m not convinced that the unemployed son spending 17 hours in the basement of his mother’s house working on his Doom 3 is making a grand contribution.”

While Johnson’s example of one potential recipient of these tax incentives seems a bit… ignorant, his main point does make some sense. Is the public getting a valid and worthwhile return on their investments in these programs? This is a very interesting question to ask, especially at a time when the Federal government and many state governments are operating under deficits in their budgets.


Game Politics Contributor: E. Zachary Knight

New Wave Of Trademark Trolling Is Upon Us As “Candy” Gets Trademarked

Candy Crush SagaThere doesn’t seem to be an end to the art of trademark trolling. One would have thought it would have ended with Tim Langdell being sent packing after trying to enforce his trademark on the single word “Edge”. Not long ago we had Bethesda claiming that its trademark on “The Elder Scrolls” blocked any and all use of the single word “scrolls” in game titles. It used that claim to force Mojang to change the name of its fantasy card game “Scrolls”. We also have Zynga and its claim to any game title ending in “ville”.

Unfortunately, this type of behavior is not going to stop any time soon.

A new trademark bully in the making has entered the ring. King, the creator of the hit match three game Candy Crush Saga has been granted a trademark on the word “candy” in relation to games. Not “Candy Crush” or “Candy Crush Saga”, just “Candy”. King has taken no time in enforcing this new trademark. Continue reading New Wave Of Trademark Trolling Is Upon Us As “Candy” Gets Trademarked