E-SPORTS and The Law: what You Need to Know

E-sports now have undeniable attention to the sports world, inevitably attracting the interest of the law. You will find many players either individually or grouped into teams playing computer games while another massive crowd of spectators is keenly following the competitions.

Many spectators even place best the winning teams and various occurrences. E-sport has gained tremendous popularity over the years. You can now attend live events of the games and have the front row seats in stadiums as teams battle each other fiercely to get the top positions. You can also follow the matches online with millions of other fans and enjoy this phenomenal sport. 

As mentioned above, this interesting sporting trend has attracted some new trends in the legal field. The sports that were initially just hobbies are now fully blown professions for many. Players now need to sign contracts and get endorsements. This requires them to understand the legalities entailed in the entire process. The first e-sport law firm was established in 2017. It helps professionals to understand the legal side of the sport. 

A few years on, the legal services demand is on the rise among players, leagues, and endorsing companies. This article contains detailed information that you need to know about e-sports and the law.

Contact Laws for E-sports

When e-sport started becoming professional, many players didn’t know about contracts. Some and companies and other stakeholders took advantage of that. However, because of technological advancement and many businesses getting savvier, there has been an increase of legal counsel who offer these services. Therefore, every player, team, league, and tournament leader needs to have a great understanding of the contract law. It will help them in drafting, negotiating, and signing the contracts. 

E-sports and the law: Always be keen when signing contracts
E-sports contracts, like any other legal documents, require legal guidance before signing | Image: Scott Graham/ Unsplash

Contacts negotiations for teams are crucial. They ensure the teams get excellent deals that represent every team member entirely. Individual members need the contract negotiations because they are more vulnerable; companies usually take advantage of such players. In addition, companies worldwide give players endorsements. This area is where the players require the contract law even more.

As a player, avoid signing contracts without legal guidance even if the deal is too good to pass. You will prevent conflicting agreements. For instance, if the endorsers provide you with gear to use when playing, you might find that the contract forbids you from using any other product until the end of the contract. Some of these conditions hide in too long and ambiguous contractual jargon that is challenging to interpret for many players. Players should seek legal help to protect themselves and ensure they don’t sign away their rights for small benefits. Getting out of such legal commitments can sometimes be very hard or impossible.

Endorsement laws for e-Sports

Getting endorsement deals is how professional players make money through their names, images, and work. Companies offer players endorsement deals as a way of advertising their products and services (Brand). As a player, it’s crucial to pay attention before getting into an endorsement contract. It will ensure you enjoy the full benefits and more. Pay close attention to payments, duration of the contract, terms of the contract, and regions the contract applies. 

Another aspect you should consider is intellectual property. The games you play are all under the legal rights of the developer. If you want to use the game to represent the company you are endorsing during a tournament, you must ask for licensing for the game developers. They also require players who want to use the games to create videos shared online to earn revenue to get licenses from the developers. This will ensure that the developers will not sue or ban you from using their games, leading to substantial legal problems.

Betting Interests

E-sport betting is one of the biggest concerns that keeps rising by the day. Over the years, we have seen many betting scandals that involve rigging by the betting houses that collude with players to have an inevitable game outcome. We have also had people debating whether players can bet against themselves. In some countries, they have put in place legal measures to regulate this. However, e-sports have players from different parts of the world. Therefore, controlling each one of them has not been possible so far.

However, professionals have put in place standards that regulate betting-related concerns in the industry across the world. Legal professionals claim that there is a considerable rise in lawsuits related to betting and gaming. 

Mergers and Acquisition

E-sport as an industry is growing exponentially. This has resulted in the rise of mergers and acquisitions. It has, in return, led to an increase in employment opportunities as players and teams need legal help. Professional e-sport pro-leagues often have various vacant positions they require players to fill. They sell these positions to individuals and teams at a reasonable payoff. As a result, the sale gets automatically treated as tangible property, and they attract legal services. To gain these positions, legal sale negotiations for the contracts are crucial for the players before signing the mergers and acquisitions contracts. 

As a player, seek legal guidance from a professional before signing the contracts to attain such a position. Ensure you understand the legal rights that protect your payments and professional reputation and freedom during the negotiation as an individual and team.

E-sports Law on Player Poaching

Many teams and leagues observe various players from other teams whose performance is admirable. They then approach these players and offer them contracts with better deals than what they are getting from their current teams. Poaching gets done to obtain the best players. As a player, consult your legal counsel before accepting the deal and signing any contract.

When scouted as an e-sport talent, make sure the team poaching you follows the law.
E-sport may be a talent that gets you poached. Make sure you work hard to sharpen it | Image: Annie Spratt/Unsplash

The legal counsel will guide you after looking into your available options and any legal problems you might be in for termination of your current contract. They will also read through the new contract and highlight any significant red flags that might tie you up or cause any future limitations regarding endorsements, termination of the agreement, and the payments you will receive. Before getting into any league transfer contract, ensure you carefully go through the terms and conditions of the contract and weigh the benefits and limitations of leaving or staying in the team.

E-sports and the law: Clocking Out…

Given e-sports is a relatively new disciplibne, the legal framework around it is not fully developed. New regulations continue to emerge as new aspects of the discipline emerge. As such, we should expect the laws governing the sport to remain fluid in the near future.

That said, e-sports is not an alien concept. It borrows a lot from existing day-to-day activities. Things like cyber security laws, contract and copyright laws apply to e-sports just as they do to other segments of society. We will keep an eye on any changes in laws and emerging trends to ensure you never get caught offside. All you need to do is bookmark this site and check in regularly for the best tid bits, broken down in a way you will love, Also, don’t forget to share the word with your mates; bring them along to drink from the e-sports well of life.

See you again on Tuesday!

Bonus:

When I talked about money-making opportunities in e-sports, I did not even mention offering legal services. If you are a lawyer with expertise in contract, copyright law, and related fields, then e-sports is a fertile field for you. If you are not, hey, make haste! College intake is in progress!

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