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Rebroadcasting and third party programs in esports

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Title: Rebroadcasting and third party programs in esports
Author(s): Parmala, Julius
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law
Discipline: Sports law
Language: English
Acceptance year: 2018
As the esports scene has grown in the past ten years, so has the legal problems surrounding it. Because esports does not have the same kind of structure surrounding it as other sports, it lacks the committees and bylaws that could help in solving different legal issues. Instead esports relies on the more common legal avenues to solve problems that might be completely unheard of in other sports. This study will consider the contractual and legal relationships between different parties in an event where an unauthorized party is using a third party program to ‘rebroadcast’ the gameplay footage of a professional esports player on a streaming site. To thoroughly consider all the angles in an event like this, the author has to consider legal standing of all the parties involved. However, the study will focus on the legality and possible ramifications that an event like this might cause. As most of the more important service providers to date, especially the ones focused on streaming esports, have their base of operations in the United States, the study will focus on the legislation and the case law of the United States. Some legal points from foreign intellectual property legislations will be introduced, and the broader effects of different harmonization processes of international copyright treaties will be explained, but for the sake of clarity, the focus will be locked on the legislation of the United States and especially the Digital millennium copyright act and the Lanham Act. Also some watershed cases from U.S. case law will also be introduced to give some intelligibility to the actual applicability of the legal points that are made. As the contractual relationships between the video game developer, the professional videogame player (esports player) and the creator of the third party software are among the most important parts of the study, there is a separate chapter for the Terms of service agreements (TOS) and the End user license agreements (EULA). This is done to give the reader a basic understanding of the ways that video game companies establish and impose control over their intellectual property in the video game industry. Case law and interpretations of different court cases regarding the Terms of service agreements and End user license agreements will be introduced. As the subject matter is unavoidably intertwined with the use of worldwide web, it is important to look at the current legislation that is used to control things like e-commerce, and converse on the different aspects of intellectual property protection used in the digital age. For the reader to understand the basics of the harmonization of different intellectual property legislations in the internet age, the study will introduce some of the most important international intellectual property treaties, which form the basis for harmonized intellectual property protection in different countries worldwide. For clarity’s sake, a real life event where an individual used a third party program to stream a pro esports player’s gameplay on a streaming site will be introduced. The legal actions of each legal subject will be covered and the legal validity of their actions will be analyzed and used as a base for broader legal analysis on the subject of rebroadcasting via third party programs.

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