What Every Librarian Needs to About Videogames and the Law

Mark Methenitis, Joystiq / Law of the Game blog

He started with a quick overview of copyright and fair use.

 Mark stated that in law school they stated that the key copyright is that it is a "bundle" of rights that exists. In addition to copyright, games not only content with copyright but also with EULAs (End User License Agreement)

Methenitis stated that fair use does not apply universally. There are two potential sources of restriction to gaming events copyright and the EULA. Both can be overcome, but at what cost or restriction. The "right of performance" is restrictive. None of the traditional exemptions to not apply to gaming and libraries. Which means libraries should be asking for permission. Permission in writing, physical or email. In a safe legal environment, libraries should be asking.

Do libraries need to ask every time or can they get a broader blanket?

Beth Galloway mentioned that Nintendo and Red Octane, producers of the "Guitar Hero" series, have both provided permission for use and were good to work with.

Scott Nicholson asked if working through the ALA to get a blanket performance rights by company. Mark stated that working through the ALA could be a successful strategy compared to hundreds of requests. He stated that it would still be on a case by case example.


I wonder how "fair use" plays into gaming at libraries?

I wonder how this discussion will evolve as the profile of gaming in libraries continues to rise. Gaming events in libraries may be considered public performances of the games, but most gaming events encourage players to play more of the game. Library gaming tournaments also require players to practice to be competitive. Again meaning patrons are buying more of the games. One of the reasons publishers may not be too aggressive on pursuing libraries is because there is a positive net result in their gaming profits.

Mark also has a really interesting post on intellectual property and Little Big Planet. As games formalize user created content, the debate over ownership and rights will continue to evolve.


jinx protocol said...

I'm currently doing a research project for my Masters in English Education, and your blog has been extremely helpful in giving me ideas and such. Please, pretty please, keep it up!

Paul said...

Thanks Jinx. Hopefully you can find additional content here that is helpful.

What is your project?

I've read a number of gaming and literacy articles and will be posting about them over the next few weeks. So hopefully that helps.

Thanks for the positive feedback.