Are you an eSports athlete? Maybe you’re a popular streamer on Twitch? Maybe you aspire to be signed to Faze Clan so you can make millions off playing Fortnite? Maybe you’re so exceptionally good at killing Zombies in Call of Duty that you should consider making a career out of it? Not to worry, because all of these things are possible. If a 12-year old can do it, so can you. But where there’s money to be made, there’s usually legalities in place. Understanding esports law and how legal issues can arise in the eSports community can help you avoid them in your own career and set yourself up for success.
Most successful eSports athletes make their fortune not only from winning tournaments, but also from endorsement deals and signing on to be a part of competitive eSports teams like Team Liquid or Fnatic. But with contracts, come confusion and clauses that most people without a law degree don’t quite understand. It’s important for those signing endorsement deals or contracts to pay attention to payment amount, the length of the contract, the countries in which it applies, exclusivity terms, and termination rights. Make sure you fully understand what you are signing on for or else you might end up having contract disputes like eSport pro, Tfue.
These days, advertising has shifted from television and billboards to online outlets like social media and YouTube. If you have a large following on Twitch, Instagram, YouTube, etc., brands will most likely offer you endorsement or sponsorship deals to advertise their service or product to your audience. The Federal Trade Commission, aka the FTC, has strict guidelines for disclosing paid promotions in order to eliminate “unfair and deceptive marketing.” Be sure to make yourself familiar with the FTC guidelines so all your posts are compliant.
Just like other professional sports, eSports events offers players millions in prize money, which means the competition can get intense; thus, the practice of “eDoping”was born. eDoping allows players to cheat by finding ways to manipulate their software or hardware to gain an edge over the competition. Just like pro-athletes are punished for using steroids, eSports athletes can be penalized or banned from games and tournaments if caught eDoping. Some of these methods are even considered criminal offenses in the United States and Australia when they involve DDoS attacks that cause a network to slow or shut down.
As eSports involves intellectual property that players do not own, there is a fine line that streamers need to operate under in order to avoid intellectual property lawsuits. Make sure that you understand the end-user license agreements in each game that you plan on streaming.
eSports is a competitive and intense line of work. If you’ve ever watched two players going head to head in a competition or battle, you know that insults and profanity are thrown around like machine gun rounds. However, it’s important to differentiate between competitive banter and language that has the potential to harm someone’s career. Throwing around false statements that accuse others of eDoping, cheating, or committing a crime can be grounds for defamation. Learn more about defamation here.
Recently, the Pac-12 has announced their support for eSports intercollegiate competitions, according to ESPN. This gives eSports athletes hope that eSports will soon be considered a collegiate sport. If this does end up happening, it may be smart to reach out to an experienced NCAA attorney that is familiar with the legalities of the league.
If you are an eSports athlete or aspire to be one, don’t play yourself and get in contact with the experienced eSports attorneys at RM Warner Law today. We can guide you through esports law and all legal issues throughout your pursuit to victory.