February 19, 2013 Articles

Young Lawyer's Corner: Video Games, Apps, and the Copyright Act

How do copyright laws protect video and smartphone games?

By Jordan Greenberger

Developers and publishers of smartphone and tablet games have created a new revenue stream by selling in-game and in-app products during use. Developers and publishers of games often offer—for a fee or in exchange for a user’s rating—the option to download one (or a packet of) cheats or hints to help a stumped gamer complete a level. However, in many cases, the gamer can easily obtain cheats or hints at no cost by searching the Internet (e.g., by game name and level) for free hints or cheats posted by other gamers. Some online hints or cheats merely describe in words how to complete a level (e.g., “Move Piece A left two spaces.”). But often, the online hints or cheats include unauthorized live-action video or screenshots of gameplay. Developers and publishers concerned about lost revenue due to such unauthorized cheats or hints may consider legal action, under the federal Copyright Act, against those who post cheats and hints that include images of the game.

Premium Content For:
  • Litigation Section
Join - Now