Workshop ‘Game Defence 2.0: protect your income and property’18 December 2017
On December 6, Olans Group consulting group, specializing in legal support of IT companies and startups, held an event ‘Game Defend 2.0: protect your income and property’. This is the second workshop, dedicated to the protection of intellectual property in the game.
In addition to the company’s CEO Svetlana Malevannaya, the event featured the presentations of three other employees of Olans Group: Anastasia Shubert, Olga Markevich, Aleksandr Bondarenko.
The workshop attendees learned about the specifics of legal relations between owners and developers, peculiarities of using the developments of other rights holders, patenting algorithms and registration of trademarks, taxation of IT products in Ukraine and legal aspects of investing.
Some of this information was revealed during the previous Game Defenсe workshop, and we would recommend you to read it in our article.
Why GameDev relationship should be legalized? Role-model
Let's take as an example three young developers: Dasha, Sasha and Pasha. After the lectures at the university (or even instead of them) they gather at Pasha's rented apartment and work on creating their MMORPG about space vampires (P.S.: the example is chosen by the editorial staff and has no direct relation to the workshop).
When they managed to create a poor, yet working demo version, Dasha suggested to sign a contract that distributes the duties and contributions of each of them, on the basis of which they could immediately distribute the shares in the project. Colleagues told Dasha that it is too early to do this, and they will think about it later.
Time passed, and Sasha began to devote less time to the project, preferring to spend it, let’s say, with Tanya or Anya. Much of the technical work fell on Dasha’s shoulders, Pasha helped with the graphics and covered all the associated costs. One fine day, when there was almost nothing left from the initial demo version, Dasha and Pasha decided that it was time to say goodbye to Sasha.
However, Sasha felt hard done by the friends, and sold their workings to uncle Vitalik. How could the situation develop?
► If, before saying goodbye, Sasha signed a mutually beneficial act on the transfer of property rights for his part of the development, then Dasha and Pasha are protected, and uncle Vitalik still has to find Sasha in order to return his money.
► Provided that, having decided to say goodbye to Sasha, they hastened to fulfill Dasha’s proposal, and legally formalized their partnership and rights to the game, they can sue uncle Vitalik, if he at least tries to publish the game.
► Let's say that Sasha has formalized the rights to the game for himself. In this case, his former partners may not be able to release the game, if uncle Vitalik has good lawyers. As it was said on the workshop: “The author is the one who has confirmation of the rights to the game. Until the contrary is proven.”
This story could have other ends, but the point is that if the guys initially took care of signing a contract, specifying the solutions to the main conflicts, then such a bad situation would not happen. “What was not agreed at the beginning, will be quarreled at the end”, such a point was voiced at the beginning of the workshop.
Features of copyright protection in GameDev
We’ve mentioned a contract that distributes the duties and contributions of each developer, game designer, script writer, etc., on the basis of which the shares in the project are established. Those performing more useful and specific deeds or investing more money have bigger share, and hence, higher income from the product sale. In any case, it his is logical.
But this is only one of the steps, that should be followed by confirming all the rights to the company or sole proprietorship, on behalf of which the business will be run.
The minimum package of documents and steps to be taken before the game release includes the following:
- agreements between the game owners;
- acceptance and transfer certificates to the developed objects (code, character, etc.);
- consideration of conditions for the use of purchased sets;
- placement of all the developments in the game on some depository before the public release;
- verification of the trademark, and, in an ideal scenario, its registration.
The main types of contracts used in the GameDev:
♦ contracting agreement, service agreement and agreement on the intellectual property object development, accompanied by requirements specifications and acts, provide for payment for the developed result. They are used when referring to the services of freelancers or ordering products from contractors;
♦ agreement on the transfer of the intellectual property object right, supplemented by acts, is mostly coincides with the documents from the previous list. The main difference is the purchase and sale of the finished product, rather than its creation from scratch;
♦ employment agreement and contract are more likely to be found in large studios. They are concluded for a long period, providing for state guarantees and payment for the process, rather than for the result;
♦ agreement on joint activities/cooperation doesn’t work without appropriate registration in the tax office. It is better to choose another option, if registration in the State Tax Inspectorate is undesirable;
♦ agreement on non-competition and agreement on non-disclosure of confidential information are effective and legal only provided that all paragraphs are clearly written, without violating the constitutional human rights. It is better to specify penalties for violations in the form of a fine, time limits should be reasonable.
Lawyers of Olans Group also explained in detail many other details of GameDev business relations registration (investments, monetization, taxes, etc.).
The second workshop, as well as the first one, was a success, which means that next year, we may see the continuation of the series. To learn about the event in advance, subscribe to the company community on Facebook.