Hey folks!

I've had two great AMAs in this sub over the past two years, and a 100 more in /r/gamedev. I've been summoned all over Reddit lately for fair use questions, so I came here to answer anything you want to know.

I also wrote the quick article I recommend you read: http://ryanmorrisonlaw.com/a-laymans-guide-to-copyright-fair-use-and-the-dmca-takedown-system/

My Proof

My twitter

DISCLAIMER: Nothing in this post creates an attorney/client relationship. The only advice I can and will give in this post is GENERAL legal guidance. Your specific facts will almost always change the outcome, and you should always seek an attorney before moving forward. I'm an American attorney licensed in New York. And even though none of this is about retaining clients, it's much safer for me to throw in: THIS IS ATTORNEY ADVERTISING. Prior results do not guarantee similar future outcomes.

As the last two times. I will answer ALL questions asked in the first 24 hours

Edit: Okay, I tried, but you beat me. Over 5k messages (which includes comments) within the inbox, and I can't get to them all. I'll keep answering over the next week all I can, but if I miss you, please feel free to reach back out after things calm down. Thanks for making this a fun experience as always!

Comments: 3845 • Responses: 93  • Date: 

kessdawg2727 karma

Can I leave my Steam library to my children when I die?

VideoGameAttorney2198 karma

Maybe by the time you die. Lots of laws coming soon on that!!

edit: oh wow, didn't expect this to be top comment or I would have elaborated more. The main issue here is with your ownership of digital goods (or lack there of). When you used to buy a game at the store, you owned it. You could resell it, trade it, or leave it in your will.

Now when you buy a game for steam or a book for your kindle, most times you aren't actually buying that thing. Instead you're buying a license to use or display that thing. That means you CANT resell it or leave it in your will. It's not yours to transfer. That license is fully revocable even from you, which is why you can spend ten grand in a game but that game is still fully within its rights to ban you without a refund.

There's a heavy push to change this from a lot of different directions, and it's my belief that within the decade we'll have a lot more ownership and the doctrine of first sale (if you want to google the actual law on it) and will apply. Hope that helps!

Revircs1482 karma

How are online gambling sites for games like CSGO not being taken down? I'm not complaining but I know there's many people under 21 playing them.

VideoGameAttorney1992 karma

They will. And the owners will be hit HARD. I get at least two people a week messaging me thinking they found a gambling loophole to start similar websites. They didn't. And they're usually scumbags. I have no pity towards them when they get theirs.

concentration_458 karma

Are you against gambling in general, or just online gambling? Why?

VideoGameAttorney2229 karma

Psh. Neither. I host a great super bowl pool. I'm against letting 12 year olds lost ten grand and pretend it's just virtual goods.

sg587565290 karma

are sites like csglounge also illegal, asking since they state that you need to be over a certain age (depending on country) to use the site.

EDIT: also what if the website is based of some other country than the us (say a country with very lax online gambling laws) will the site be made illegal to view just in the us or some other kind of action will be taken ?

VideoGameAttorney339 karma

I certainly believe so

vertiGo--165 karma

Could you expand on what could potentially happen to an owner of a CSGO Skins jackpot site? I assumed a worst case scenario would be that the site is shut down?

VideoGameAttorney557 karma

Jail time. And I'm very serious.

bizzyjay1240 karma

Are you dealing with any Facebook freebooting cases ? Someone taking from YouTube and reuploading on Facebook?

VideoGameAttorney1703 karma

I think you know the answer to that ;)

zuperkamelen184 karma

Do you know where the term "Freebooting" was coined, by whom, and have you listened to the source?


Do you listen to HI?

VideoGameAttorney335 karma

All I want is for grey to invite me on

Eliotfez1021 karma

what's the most interesting case you've dealt with?

VideoGameAttorney1658 karma

Proving to the USPTO (our trademark office) that casino games are different than video games. Slot machines were a huge problem, as they were considered the same class of goods, so I took that as a huge win.

Tiberius666802 karma

Are you currently dealing with many cases of YouTube's Fair Use issues at the moment? Any details you can share?

VideoGameAttorney1384 karma

I've received over 700 emails this past week alone from content creators. I'm truly trying to help everyone I can, but it became overwhelming fast. As such, I've gotten a handful of other attorneys to help. For those truly being abused, we're here to help. The tricky bit is that most I speak with aren't being bullied unfairly. They are infringing and are properly being taken down. An important distinction.

Rooonaldooo99508 karma

The tricky bit is that most I speak with aren't being bullied unfairly. They are infringing and are properly being taken down.

Are they contacting you knowing that they are in the wrong or just oblivious?

VideoGameAttorney1305 karma

Mostly the second. A good portion of the Internet feels no one owns anything and everything is fair use. It's not.

Boston88117 karma

reddit must be a wonderful source of clientele and great marketing :D.

VideoGameAttorney1083 karma

These jerks never pay.

annex7977796 karma

Fellow lawyer from Greece here (also, gamer, when I can find the time). I love the way you interact with the reddit community in general and developers / content creators in particular as well as your pro bono work... keep it up, you make us all seem less like bloodsucking leeches and in our profession the less the client is aware of our sanguinary-imbibing capabilities the better (evil laughter).

Anyway, my question: I'll be teaching a short course on IP Law to young professionals without a legal background. What would you consider the most current and interesting issues to discuss with / present to them, preferably things that will give them an idea of the fascinating dynamics and (economic as well as ethical) dilemmas in IP law without boring them to death?

Thanks for taking the time to do this AMA.

VideoGameAttorney747 karma

My answer is email me! I don't know any game attorneys in Greece and would love someone to refer people to there. Let's have a chat :)

AllegrettoVivamente708 karma

Big fan of the work you do, just two questions. 1. What made you start supporting the little guys on the internet? and 2. How do you cope with the apparent overwhelming shittiness that comes with being a lawyer for the internet.

VideoGameAttorney1601 karma

1) Because I WAS a little guy on the Internet. The Internet was always my escape when things got rough, and I think a lot of people in my generation felt similar. We also grew up hating bullies. Not that I was some kid beat up under the monkey bars (I was way too badass for that), but a lot of my friends were. I don't like people who pick on others just because they can. And now I have a license that lets me stop it here. I'll continue to use it.

2) Nonsense. I love it! Wouldn't trade this job for anything.

Hankmoody2r629 karma

What do you think will happen to The Gabbie Show after her false DMCA takedown?

VideoGameAttorney1385 karma

Can't comment due to potential involvement.

x1sc0423 karma

Plot twist: he'll be representing Gabbie

VideoGameAttorney860 karma


Opheltes595 karma

What's the legal status of abandonware? Is there an actual, formal loophole in copyright law for it yet? If not, how is it possible for the Internet Archive to host some abandonware games? (Are they essentially betting that no one will sue them?)

VideoGameAttorney588 karma

Depends on a very case by case status. If you're curious about one in particular, I would email me.

morjax739 karma

I would email me.

Sounds like an infinite feedback loop to me. Careful with those!

VideoGameAttorney1750 karma

I email myself constantly just to tell me I'm great. The sad part is he never responds :(

morjax413 karma

I like you.

VideoGameAttorney533 karma

I like you more

ReconLegionnaire360 karma

What does Susan think of vidya games?

How big of an issue is non-payment in the eSports curcuit? Can you name someone that is fairly known that this has happened to, or is it mainly just first timers and small players?

How did you end up specializing in Video game/internet copy right law?

VideoGameAttorney675 karma

I see you've read my tweets! Susan, my random 74 year old seatmate on this flight, thinks video games are just the golf game at her local pub. She's a bad resource.

As for esports, I have worked with a lot of the top earners in CS:GO, league, dota, and heroes. Nonpayment is not something only dealt with by people new to the scene. It's possible everywhere. The top teams are much more in line lately, but the industry needs a lot of cleaning up still imo.

I had a player have his visa revoked so the owner could steal his money, dissolve the company, and disappear. The player wound up deported and in a holding cell for the weekend. That was a much smaller team, but still...

ReconLegionnaire237 karma

Wow... Man, that is some BS. If I'm allowed to ask, was that ever resolved?

VideoGameAttorney435 karma

The player is now okay, but was never paid. He asked for help way too late. Players should have an attorney involved before they sign anything.

FailedTech177 karma

This is where it becomes hard, attorneys are not cheap; you might or might not know that.

But seriously, what can someone do so does not have the funds for a laywer?

VideoGameAttorney625 karma

I do more pro bono work than paid. Email me.

tayloreg354 karma

I cant afford a lawyer but a big company stole by name Ive been using for years. What can I do?

VideoGameAttorney643 karma

Funny enough, some of our biggest cases start out just like this. We will work on contingency if you have a good case (meaning you only pay if we win) so no one gets beat up unfairly. Email me. We'll get you sorted.

Jeffool340 karma

I completely understand this is not direct legal advice. (And I'm eager to ask because normally I only find these well after you've finished and gone!)

Copyright is a work. Trademark is a symbol or word to represent a company or product.

If works featuring Mickey Mouse pass into the public domain in 2019 (obviously doubtful), will we all be able to create Mickey Mouse cartoons and derivatives? Or just use/publish the ones that lapse into the public domain? And will we be able to use the name "Mickey Mouse" in promotions, seeing as a trademark is theoretically forever? I imagine we wouldn't be able to use the infamous "mouse ears" logo.

... This is a big question, I know. Feel free to take your time. But I can never find a well written article on practical application of things lapsing into the public domain. And looking for real live examples always seem to yield odd results, reading about legal threats and a bunch of non-answers. Is it really that big of a gray area?

Famously there's the Happy Birthday debacle that only resolved recently. It seems rights holders (understandably to a degree) try to keep a deathgrip on things even lapsed into the public domain.

VideoGameAttorney607 karma

If you google around, you'll see Mickey Mouse is literally the foundation for most of our copyright law. I have a bet the year will be extended again, but you never know!

If it's not, the idea of Mickey Mouse will be public domain, but specific uses won't. It's like Sherlock Holmes. You can make a Sherlock show all you want, but you can't base it on the BBC one. Make sense?

Jeffool160 karma

I'm in agreement it'll likely be extended again (that Disney has influenced so much, and it's so close to passing into public domain again is exactly why I used him as an example.)

Thanks for summing it up short and sweet; love reading your gamedev stuff all the time. You rock man.

VideoGameAttorney115 karma

Thanks for reading it! And for the question :)

Absenteeist14 karma

Hi Ryan,

If you google around, you'll see Mickey Mouse is literally the foundation for most of our copyright law.

I hear this a fair bit from American sources, and I don't doubt that Disney has been a big proponent of longer copyright terms. But the foundation? The Berne Convention set an international standard for copyright terms at "life plus 50 years" in 1886. You can't claim Hollywood was behind 19th century law, can you? I'm sure Disney and other studios were happy to import that standard to the U.S., but it seems hard to claim that the idea of lengthier copyright was created by the American entertainment industry, don't you think?

Thanks for the AMA. Always interesting and engaging.

VideoGameAttorney32 karma

I more mean the 70 years we currently have and how we extend copyright protection each time Mickey is almost public domain. But you're right!

frogandbanjo2 karma

So wait... you're claiming that once BBC's latest Sherlock passes into public domain, you still wouldn't be able to "base" a new work on it? Wouldn't that be classed as a derivative work (albeit a weaker one than, say, a new edit or a mashup) which no longer enjoy protection, since that protection falls under copyright?

VideoGameAttorney12 karma

No I may have misspoke. I mean just because she rock Holmes is public domain doesn't mean the BBC version is. Once that becomes public, then it's public. But each are different.

cristeait284 karma

Do you think the copyright system and the patent system in America is working properly?

If yes: "Why so?" and if no: "What could be done to improve it?".

VideoGameAttorney427 karma

Minus the DMCA takedown issue in my article above, I don't hate the copyright system as much as most do. I protect a lot of content creators daily, and they deserve protection. Patents have been neutered in software lately by the ALICE decision, and that's amazing. Just don't tell my patent attorney friends I think so ;)

cristeait160 karma

Parents have been neutered in software lately by the ALICE decision, and that's amazing.

I guess you mean "patents", haha :D I was wondering why all the parents suddanly was calmned.

I guess this is the case you're talking about for everyone wondering: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Corp._v._CLS_Bank_Int%27l .

VideoGameAttorney141 karma

Ha! Thank you. On my phone on a plane. Autocorrect.

Dan55556268 karma

I'm attending a University known for it's Multimedia and Game Design Degree Programs. I designed and presented a title I plan on expanding, recruiting for, and eventually building in the next 3 years. Should I be worried about any sort of...ownership claims? from the school?

VideoGameAttorney527 karma

Yes. 99% of schools claim ownership. Also about 90% of them will sign a waiver BEFORE your idea is big. Get one. ASAP

locojoco234 karma

What does Susan - your 75 y/o seatmate - do for a living? What is her favorite food?

VideoGameAttorney389 karma

She used to work at her father's fabric shop. But she's not worked in years to help with her family. She says she doesn't miss making change. And she also says her cat is like a dog. So I guess that's an international thing people say, ha.

I didn't ask her favorite food because she's going to TOWN on the ice cream we just got. So I'll just say it's that ice cream.

bunnymeninc221 karma

What are thoughts on the situation involving Project M, a Super Smash Brothers Brawl mod that ceased development recently in fear of millions of dollars in lawsuits?

VideoGameAttorney172 karma

Whose name is on their website?

alexp796188 karma

Hi Mr. Morrison, you've somewhat inspired me to pursue a similar career path of video game/entertainment IP law. So I just wanted to ask, how would I go about focusing on that exactly? Also, any advice for a future law student? Thank you very much!

VideoGameAttorney393 karma

I love you so don't take this the wrong way, but I get well over 100 emails from students each week. That means you are dealing with a LOT of competition. So my answer isn't what your dean wants me to say, but it's network! Law review is nice. A 4.0 is nice. But I don't care about that stuff when hiring. I want to know what you know and that you've put in effort to go meet everyone you can. Go to events. Go to meet ups. Shake hands. Do everything you can to be an asset when talking to an employer. Another good GPA isn't that. (Although also get good grades. Mediocrity or failing out won't get you in the door either. I more mean spread the energy around).

edit: also, do your research. Watch how many students ask this exact same question in this AMA when it's already answered ;)

If I get an email asking something I've answered 100 times and is on the top of Google, I know I won't be hiring that person.

dkasper6696178 karma

As you may have heard, there is a Star Wars KOTOR remake in the works beong developed by a bunch of fans of the game. They are not selling it, but is this still legal? Im worried disney will shut them down. This is their site http://www.apeirongame.com/

VideoGameAttorney484 karma

A thousand percent illegal. Fools to try it.

Feniks_Gaming177 karma

Hi Thanks for doing it.

I almost always obtain permission prior to posting videos but I have one qestion that bothers me. Can permission to use content be retracted?

When I apply for press key for any game I specifically ask for a permission to use the gameplay in my videos on youtube and monetize them with youtube ads. Can developer then retract the permission they gave me forcing me to delete already publish videos or prevent me from making more?

VideoGameAttorney270 karma

Licenses can be retracted, absolutely. So always get things in writing with exact terms. Lawyers aren't always cheap. But they make sure nothing goes on fire.

Exaskryz95 karma

Licenses can be retracted, absolutely. So always get things in writing with exact terms.

In writing, should people seek for any particular words in the contract to get indefinite use of at least that one instance? Words such as "Indefinite", "Lifetime", or "Until work enters public domain"?

Can such stipulations in writing preempt attempts to revoke licenses? Or can a license be revoked regardless of anything in writing?

VideoGameAttorney194 karma

"Non revocable" or put in clear terms. The only real answer is: "get an attorney"

JagYui68 karma

Look at this guy trying to sell us legal services. He must be a lawyer or something!

VideoGameAttorney193 karma

For $4.99 I'll respond to this comment.

JayNorthpen147 karma

Was waiting for your next /r/gamedev/ AMA to ask this but guess this is as good a place as any.

Say there is a hypothetical situation where some friendly neighborhood lawyer type guy smacks down a companies attempt at an overreaching trademark.

Does preventing that trademark make it more difficult for them (or anyone else) to try and register the same mark in a few months when the Internet is perhaps paying less attention to the issue?

VideoGameAttorney227 karma

I won't react to this question with any answer but, "it doesn't make it harder, but that friendly neighborhood lawyer is now watching ;)"

RisenLazarus145 karma

Hey Ryan. Big fan of yours and other lawyers in the scene paving the way for a better legal landscape in gaming.

As a refresher, I'm writing a paper this semester that is focused on esports broadcasting and the copyright issues involved there. Based on the attorneys I've spoken with (and the ones they've spoken with), it seems to be a fairly black-and-white issue that any organization looking to make money hosting and/or broadcasting an esports event needs a license from the IP holder. Whether in basic infringement analysis (derivative use, broadcast, and performance rights) or moral rights analysis (controlling the integrity of the work), most people seem to think it fairly clear that a license is needed.

But that puts a serious hinge in competition in the esports industry. As I'm sure you know, the different esports industries at the moment are becoming more and more centralized. My primary argument regarding the need for license will be fair use, based on the transformative nature of turning a co-op/multiplayer game into a spectator experience. But that argument seems fairly week when the broadcaster is already licensing out to some (but not all) broadcasters; it's no longer transformative and has an obvious impact on the market for the good.

I was wondering: what do you think (1) about that fair use argument both for new esports (Overwatch if/when it becomes one for example) and already existing esports (LoL, CS, Halo, etc.), (2) about an anti-trust argument - preventing IP holders from making the broadcast industry of their games anti-competitive, and (3) about an argument that copyright doesn't actually extend to uses like esports?

The third argument is interesting to me, but not very convincing. The idea is that copyright law did not conceive of limiting any and all uses of the work, almost akin to the exhaustion doctrine. So when a work is being used in a context outside of its artistic/scientific purpose - when a game turns into a sport - the exclusive rights shouldn't be extended to it.

Sorry for the long question, this issue and copyright law in general is just fascinating for me. Professional leagues being built around owned intellectual property brings so many new issues, and I'd love to know what a practicing game-IP attorney thinks about them.

VideoGameAttorney186 karma

Man, I knew I loved you from our Twitter interactions, and you've proven me right. First things first, moral rights? You're American. Stop it with those, they don't exist here ;)

As for the black and white nature, it is just that. The transformative argument is a stretch, but one I'm actually working on case prep for. The NFL doesn't own the football, they just have the best product and destroy competition. eSports should operate similarly.

RisenLazarus74 karma

First things first, moral rights? You're American. Stop it with those, they don't exist here ;)

But but, the Berne Convention! :>

Thanks for your input. It's going to be a stretch, and I think the fair use argument is pretty shallow. But it's one worth making, especially if I can be one of the first to write about it.

VideoGameAttorney96 karma

Ping me in a few weeks when things calm down on my end. Would love to talk more in depth about this.

Ghazemeister119 karma

Hi, I saw you were often reaching out to people free of charge, which is amazing and generous. How frequent do you do this and what would the average fees be, if I wanted you to represent me in, say, a common copyright case?

VideoGameAttorney181 karma

We charge most of our clients, promise! But if someone is getting beat down unfairly I will always try to help them if I can. As for rates, I don't hide them. Under "membership" on my site. But won't put a full list here, ha.

BananaCounter92 karma

I'm a lone game developer busy working on my first game for release on PC - two questions, if you don't mind? 1) What's the most important thing (legally speaking) that I need to deal with, that I've probably overlooked? 2) I intend to include my game's soundtrack as part of a "special edition" of the game: do I need to copyright that separately or does it happen automatically with my game's copyright since the music forms part of the game?

Thanks, really appreciate this AMA! :)

VideoGameAttorney153 karma

The main things I recommend to most game devs are:

1) Form a corporate entity, usually an LLC 2) Trademark your game and company name 3) Get contracts between you and your partners! Contracts save friendships 4) If your contractor isn't under a proper agreement, they probably own everything they made (even after you pay). That's very dangerous. Get good agreements! 5) Talk to an attorney! I give free consultations. Why not?

As for the CR question, more is always better. But sound is covered under most game copyrights if done right.

mooolander89 karma

Taking the bar exam tomorrow. Any tips?

VideoGameAttorney276 karma

Fuck that shit up! I believe in you.

BrutallyHonestDude88 karma


VideoGameAttorney163 karma

Alien Colonial Marines case said they need a disclaimer, and not much else. So not usually.

BrutallyHonestDude52 karma


VideoGameAttorney165 karma

"Footage not of actual gameplay" or some such nonsense.

weapawn72 karma

What's your favorite video game and how many times have you been guilded?

VideoGameAttorney208 karma

I've enjoyed quite a bit of gold, but I ask people instead donate here to AbleGamers: http://tiltify.com/events/donate-to-able-gamers

As for my favorite game, it would be FF7, Harvest Moon, and currently heroes of the storm (I'm SO sorry /r/dota2, I sold out...)

Maragil152 karma

you're dead to me cyka blyad idi nahui EE will never forgive you

VideoGameAttorney117 karma

I seriously wouldn't represent EE because I'm such a fan. I've worked with almost every other top level dota talent. But he's a hero.

DariaRPG1 karma

SO as a Harvestmoon/RPG fan are you excited for the PoPoLoCrois/Story of Seasons crossover?

VideoGameAttorney2 karma

I demand you email me more info on this.

Purplecliffe70 karma

As a former CS:GO Skin dealer, what is the best way to protect yourself from chargebacks, is there any legal way to combat this?

VideoGameAttorney79 karma

Depends who you're selling through.

georgem12363 karma

Hi Mr Morrison. I want to say thanks for your work battling to help people with fair use on Youtube, because that system really needs to be fixed soon.

Anyway I wanted to ask, what is your opinion on fair use as far as full playthroughs of games on Youtube? Do you think that it still counts as fair use if there is no commentary for example or if the game will be played very similarly by every player (eg Dear Esther).

Thanks again and I hope you have a pleasant day.

VideoGameAttorney94 karma

It's probably NOT fair use in those instances, because I watch them instead of playing the game. Same with let's plays that show major plot twists. It's a tough question, but I would guess those are losing arguments.

Shadskis58 karma

How often is it that you get free time after work hours? I get the feeling that legal work eats up a lot of hours. Do you ever feel stressed out by your work?

VideoGameAttorney186 karma

Nah, it's not like big law for me. I'm the boss, so I have my minions work while I travel the world and try to up my MMR ;)

ProffAwesome57 karma

Hey Mr. Morrison, I was curious about the implications of contributing to a copyright infringing open source project (e.g. /r/HaloOnline). If I were to help develop features for a game like this and action was taken against the game, could legal action be taken against me?

VideoGameAttorney120 karma

Oooooh yes. Big time.

MaXxYOG57 karma

I went on Disney's website without my parents' permission, what will happen now?

VideoGameAttorney135 karma

You're done

DarthRandie50 karma

Hi! I am a photographer and several websites are using my images without permission. Can you monitor the web and send websites letters? Thanks!!

VideoGameAttorney111 karma

We actually offer a monthly protection system that not only will help you with those matters super cheap, but also search the web so you don't have to. I know it sounds sales pitchy, but we've stopped a LOT of theft with it and got photographers what is theirs.

tahlyn47 karma

Sprite comics. Are they fair use?

VideoGameAttorney110 karma

Probably not

awwyeebiatch47 karma

How much does an average case cost if it goes to court?

VideoGameAttorney122 karma

No such thing. For a trademark case? Probably six figures after expert witness costs (they can be fifty grand themselves). I don't litigate though. I have Michael Lee, the most badass nerd attorney around, handle that stuff. I deal with transactional issues, beating up the government, and negotiating amazing deals for my guys.

yukisho32 karma

Hey there /u/VideoGameAttorney ! I was wondering if you ever saw the lengthy pm I sent you seven months ago? I was disappointed I never got a response, but it was during an AMA you did.

VideoGameAttorney53 karma

Sorry! I get a lot of PM's each week. I try to answer them all, but it's hard. I'll also have an unmanageable inbox after this AMA. So if you want a definite answer, wait a few weeks and message me. Always happy to help.

demonicpigg28 karma

Are you near Manhattan? If so, where's your favorite place to eat? I'll be stopping by the city in a few weeks, and would love to try new places!

VideoGameAttorney69 karma

Yup! In Manhattan. If you're going to Astoria: Polito's Pizza. In Manhattan? Halal Guys at 53rd and 6th. Best food you'll ever have. White sauce a must.

DariaRPG27 karma

Question regarding derivative works, specifically translations.

Lets say someone produces a translation of a copyrighted work without permission. As I understand it, that is copyright infringement and they open themselves up to legal action from the original work's copyright holder.

But what of the new translated script? Can the original copyright holder use it without the permission of the translator? Does it gain some protection of it's own as a creative work?

[Just curious - had an online debate recently and was wondering who was right]

VideoGameAttorney65 karma

If you make an infringing work, you own that infringing work. That means you can't use it, but you can also stop others from using it (including the original IP holder)

iseeyoustandingthere24 karma

Who are you voting for?

VideoGameAttorney163 karma


CynicalPi23 karma

Do you think the attorneys are undermanned in this specialised sector, especially now since content creation, youtube etc are growing so fast?

Also, what's your favorite game to play?

VideoGameAttorney48 karma

We used to be. Now there's ten more an hour it seems ;) But please, be careful who you use. I'm always here to ask first. For both advice or a referral.

borntoflail22 karma

What's the long and short of "fan art" legality and sale? I see so much work on etsy and other sites that's just some popular character drawn in some random situation. Is that fair use?

VideoGameAttorney41 karma

No. It's infringing 99 times out of 100

Feniks_Gaming20 karma

How do you think channels like DCTC stand legaly.My partner is considering stating her own children channel in similar fashion. Showing and playing stories using different toys from disney movies but we are a bit worried than one day Disnay will send us a letter asking for all money back and them some more.

Also is there any law regarding thumbnails? I have heard rumors that claim that you can use any picture in thumbnail for your videos even the copyrighted one or can you get in trouble for using someone else work in your thumbnail? I see youtubers all the time having pictures downloaded from quick google search so I'm confused in here.

VideoGameAttorney52 karma

Thumbnails have been decided as fair use, but that doesn't mean you won't get a takedown. As for using toys, you're asking for Disney to come after you. That's not a company I'd roll the dice with. Most IP law comes down to: "have I pissed them off enough to sue me." Try and stay on the "no" side of that question. No one owes you w C&D before a lawsuit.

pyrrhicplays13 karma

Hey Ryan,
What would you say are the biggest contract mistakes pro players make? What should they look for to protect themselves? (excluding the obvious, have a lawyer read it before you sign it)

All other sports have players' unions to protect the players as a whole, but in esports it's every man for himself. Is there anything stopping an esports players' union?

VideoGameAttorney34 karma

Number one mistake is not getting a lawyer. I've never returned an agreement without a lot of red lines. And I've never lost a deal. Players screw themselves by getting excited and signing.

jonker510112 karma

So is SoFloAntonio as shitty of a person as everyone on the internet make him out to be, or does he legitimately license his videos from content creators?

VideoGameAttorney64 karma

does a dance instead of answering

2beastings11 karma

If I shove my Halo disc up my ass, is there a chance that the bacteria in my ass will evolve one day and the disc will become a ring world with ancient Alien technologies on it?

VideoGameAttorney12 karma

I don't think there's a chance that WONT happen

LingeringOdor8 karma


VideoGameAttorney26 karma

Who's name do you see when you go to their website?

HeyItsWolfman4 karma

Thanks for doing this ama /u/VideoGameAttorney.

I'll try to make this short to not waste too much of your time.

I've been putting out some CS:GO content for a couple months on youtube and when I started off editing I would put little end clips on my youtube videos with random music playing. Quite frankly most of the music if not all of it I do not have permission to use but I feel it adds to the video and I like editing it into videos. I could go the one route and just use remixes and unpopular songs on my videos in hopes that I wont get take downs but

what constitutes fair use when it comes to music?

I already have one strike for uploading a song titled Drake - Legend (Chris McClenney Remix) while my video was taken down the same song is uploaded here titled Chris McClenney - Legendary the only difference between my original upload and this guys was that mine was uploaded in Music part of youtube with my title and his to people and blogs with his. So am I wrong for not seeing the consistency here?

Here are some examples of things I've used in videos.

At 1:11 I use a matrix clip (out of fear of it getting taken down I put noise on the audio and really altered the movie clip)

At 0:41 I use a clip from a Metallica song "four horsemen" (again out of fear of getting take down I alter the audio clip)

At 0:36 again used a song "crossfire"

At 0:41 I use a DMX song

The list goes on...

Even as far as monetizing these videos should I just not monetize them if I'm able to "get around" youtubes detecting system and just hope my channel doesn't get three strikes?

I feel stunted when it comes to editing videos if I'm unable to add in music I think relates to the clip or even a funny moment from a movie that adds to it in some way. Should I just remove all the videos where I've used music and small video clips? Maybe move to something like "Vid.me"

I'm not looking for an excuse to upload copyrighted content but I just don't know where my editing style fits in as far as youtube and copyright is concerned. I just don't want to put so much effort into something only to just get a couple strikes one day and poof there goes my account. Thanks for your time.

VideoGameAttorney5 karma

Too specific for public forum (ethic rules, not mine), so you'll have to email me. Sorry.

Harionago4 karma

If I was to say create and sell a mobile game that intended to help you memorize Pokemon types and what they're strong/weak against and there are no references made to Pokemon in the game. As well as none of their imagery, sounds or likeness. The only thing taken directly is the list of Pokemon types (Fire,Water,Grass,Ghost ect)

Would that be going against Nintendo's copyright?

VideoGameAttorney7 karma


KSC2164 karma

How, if in anyway, do you think the Lenz decision will influence the use of Fair Use in an affirmative way online? Do you think it will help to change anything on YouTube with regards to copyright strikes being handed out unfairly?

VideoGameAttorney10 karma

I don't think it changes anything unfortunately.

MrTTU2 karma

Tell me about why EA can't just do a version of NCAA Football that randomizes likenesses (heights, weights, skin color, numbers, etc) on every install? This would leave it to the gaming community to edit their own rosters and absolve EA from any likeness disputes, would it not? Given where their legal situation currently stands, will we ever see a NCAA Football game again?

VideoGameAttorney4 karma

Google the Ryan Hart case. Can't they?

kayonesoft2 karma

To the best of my knowledge, the concept of Fair Use as it applies to Lets Play (in which people play copyrighted video games either with or without commentary, with or without camera overlay, and edited&uploaded or livestream) has never been tested in court.

In your legal opinion, how protected or not protected are Let's Players? And in the instance in which they are taken to court over specifically copyrighted gameplay material, what do you think their chances of winning would be? Would it be better to settle or fight it out for a precedent?

VideoGameAttorney4 karma

I wrote about this in my above article. Really tough call. But I'm on the side its transformative.

arvind05981 karma

What is your opinion on the finebros react controversy?

VideoGameAttorney3 karma

My opinion was pretty public on that ;)

hobnobbinbobthegob1 karma

People are really lobbin' some cans of corn at you here. It's time for some unflinching, hard-hitting interview questions. Here goes:

Why are you such a gosh darn nice guy?

VideoGameAttorney3 karma

I decline to answer based on my fifth amendment right against self incrimination.

squeeshka1 karma

What was your favorite childhood memory? Also, what is your favorite beverage?

VideoGameAttorney2 karma

Playing X-Men in my front yard probably. Was first thing that popped to mind.


Exaskryz1 karma

Do you practice mainly in the region of internet copyright issues, notably video games, or is that just a part that you advertise?

In another post (at the top when I submitted this comment) you mentioned getting help from some other attorneys. Are you in a practice that specializes in this? Would you or the practice do pro bono cases in certain circumstances?

You seem like a super cool guy and I applaud your efforts to help and educate people.

VideoGameAttorney3 karma

I'd say 90% of my clients are video games or esports. But I also have a guy that makes the near electric can openers Amazon has to offer ;)

cjreije1 karma

Just wanted to say thanks a lot for what you've done for the Reddit community! Also, favorite cereal?

VideoGameAttorney2 karma

Raisin Bran Crunch!

qaisjp1 karma

Can people not in America hire you? Any cool UK-based video game lawyers you can recommend?

VideoGameAttorney2 karma

Jas Purewal is the greatest game attorney around, and he happens to be in the UK, but I also help Poole in 43 countries and am always happy to lend you a hand.

supaskulled1 karma

How did you start out in the law business?

VideoGameAttorney3 karma

I rode my horse into town and decided to beat up the bad guys.

Hitler_had_OK_art1 karma

Are game montages that use other music fair use?

VideoGameAttorney3 karma

Not fair use of the music. Probably also not of the game footage.

thedudethedudegoesto1 karma

What spurs you to be such an awesome guy and offer help to the little guy?

I understand that as a lawyer, its good to gain clients, but you seem to have a passion for it.

Why is that?

VideoGameAttorney4 karma

Because screw those assholes beating up on my buddies! But seriously, it's what I said above about bullies. I have a license to stop them. I will. And I definitely do enjoy it :)

daaaabear1 karma

Hey there,

Current 2L in law school right now - I'm very interested in this field. What classes do you suggest I try to take? What concentration should I focus on?


VideoGameAttorney2 karma

Contracts, IP, and most importantly privacy. And read my networking answer above.

Denroll1 karma

Do you feel legal heavy-handedness is stifling the creation of content?

VideoGameAttorney4 karma

Not so much. I feel most creators just entirely ignore the law. Even a basic understanding or care for it would stop a lot of the major issues.

guellikeafish1 karma

Thanks for doing this AMA! What made you want to choose this particular legal path in law school rather than something else, like criminal or family law?

VideoGameAttorney2 karma

I didn't. I just saw a lot of people getting kicked and decided to stop it.

truelaw31 karma

How much business have you garnered from social media, namely reddit?

VideoGameAttorney2 karma

So much. You should see my yacht.

Sigh. Okay, It's really just the seahorse mount in WoW