GRAY AREAS OF NON-REGULATED E-SPORT LAW

Introduction

In its most basic form, e-sports are the adventure games in which players compete with each other or perform given tasks. In this sense, with the first legal regulation in Maryland e-sport is defined as video games such as individual shooter games, real-time strategy games and multiplayer online battlefield games. It is accepted that the players compete against each other, the games are not created randomly by a video game console or another device and the dominant factor determining the results is the relative skills of the players.

Inter-player videogame competition, which has been in our life for tens of years, is now carried to team competition as a next level. This team competition is constituting a major economy with all its player, team, sponsor, supporter, publisher and professionals where good players are taken to professional teams, famous brands sponsor for individuals, sponsors build professional teams, worldwide tournaments are performed,  bets on these tournaments are made, supporters of the teams come together and follow the competition online or in stadium all together.

Bets

There are three kinds of bet in the field of e-sport. First one is based on the winning team prediction just like the traditional sport bets. The second one, named “skin betting” is an easy and therefore widespread type played through the objects in the game. These objects are the symbols such as guns, potions, swords or other tools helping players to move faster and more productive in the game. The global extent of this bet has reached to 6 billion USD in year 2016 and continues to increase incrementally every passing year. Last one of these three can be named as fantasy e-sport bet. As follows, a team including e-sport players is made for a tournament or league season, the players gain points in accordance with their real-life performances, lastly a grading list for the fantasy league is made and the awards are given. In this sense, e-sport bets in many countries, where the sport bets are not legal are played through “skin betting”, the supporters do not make any money and therefore face with no sanction.  In addition to this, skin betting sites are fictionalized as play related forum sites, do not have any age limit and do not take any precautions for the personal data of the players.

Investments

Nowadays e-sport organizations are regulated in way that tournaments are planned mostly by game producing companies and face with very low state control. In this sense, marketing, concession and sponsorship agreement, ticket and broadcast incomes are controlled by e-sport organizers. Companies producing and marketing games ask players, teams and organizations to follow the rules determined by the firm in order to raise the quality of the games played in the areas they got license for.

For instance; Riot Games come into prominence by protecting its e-sport players against their own teams. Riot Games, controls some aspects of the e-sport players who will be joining to Champions League such as age, minimum wage earned, permission for minors in League of Legends Champions League Official Rule Book in person. In addition, Riot Games asks for a copy of the agreements will be made with e-sport player. In case of a conflict between e-sport player and his team, Riot Games evaluates and sanctions the guilty part with regard to these agreements.

Nevertheless, it is being claimed that not all game producing companies which hold license to make tournament act in this manner. According to these claims, players are being unfairly blocked in some situations, bribe is being used or there are players who are being slandered just to drop their team from the league. All these allegations are bringing questions to financier’s mind who are thinking to invest on e-sport teams. In this respect, companies which are privileged to make tournaments need the related federations, game rules, online evidence sharing in case of a rule violation and most importantly a statement for the company’s ethic codes and a transparent process.

Advertising activities

By reason of the fact that most license conditions of video and e-games clearly forbid content’s commercial use, rights of an e-sport competition or activity organizer must be given separately. General rules of advertising and sponsorship are also applicable for e-sport advertising. From an unfair competition law point of view commercials involving privacy require attention to be paid. The commercial intention of a sponsor or commercial must be expressed to the audience. Technically there are two ways for a media provider or a publisher to give an advertisement. One of these ways is adding advertisement to videos and the other one is using publicity contents during the game or on the show ground. In either case, publicity and editorial content must be separated with sharp lines so the publicity content can be clear and easy to recognize.

Considering moral right conflicts and organizer’s right to license the event, it is very important to prepare the agreements attentively. Taking game publisher’s moral rights into consideration, getting his unconditional approval and the organizer are the most significant aspects to discuss in detail while planning an agreement for an e-sport event. Beside advertisement and sponsorship, sublicensing is also another right of the organizer to consider. In addition, agreements to prevent the potential conflicts of interests between the organizer’s sponsor and in-game advertisers must be reviewed with regard to possible responsibility, exclusivity and noncompetition when needed.

Agreements

It is usually not possible for an e-sport team, whose players only come together online and most of the time do not even know each other personally, to enter in an agreement or to take other legal steps without any support and guidance from a financier. However, there are still professional or willing players, sponsors, teams, leagues and even broadcast channels who contract among. These contracts are in accord with ones utilizing within the sports law.  Another point worth to mention is the players age. Numerosity of under-age players in an e-sport market in which bets, sponsorships and businesslike economy exist, necessitates efficient precautions to be taken and standardized contract sets to be regulated in order to provide an effective protection.

Result

As new players, investors and supporters begin to join, the industry grows very quickly, and the tournaments and leagues experience a substantial growth both in size and value. The sector is continuing to greaten swiftly in turkey which has a potential to pioneer with its dynamic and young population. In this respect, an e-sport federation named TESFED that functions as a bridge between important tournament organizers and e-sport teams is formed. However, it is still a necessary to present minimum standards of the contracts, determine minimum wage, not hinder players education, pay the sponsorship shares , take other precautionary actions and make regulations in this connection.

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