Video Games and Virtual Worlds

Recreating the World and Fighting a Dragon in It

Authored by: Chrissie Scelsi

The Routledge Companion to Copyright and Creativity in the 21st Century

Print publication date:  November  2020
Online publication date:  November  2020

Print ISBN: 9781138999251
eBook ISBN: 9781315658445
Adobe ISBN:


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This essay explores the challenges video game companies face as they navigate complex intellectual property issues involving every object or person that the company has created in their authentic, immersive worlds, filled with cultural icons from the music, entertainment, and sports industries environment. The various laws of copyright and rights of privacy and publicity that may apply to a video game have similarities yet distinct legal differences. The advent of platforms like YouTube and Twitch creates another layer of content creation on which players can broadcast themselves playing games intertwining the game’s reality, player-created reality, and even virtual or augmented reality. Also anyone with a smartphone can be an author, or become a star or an extra in someone else’s video or meme. Various copyright, trademark, trade dress, and publicity rights may attach to buildings, street art, tattoos, cars, bikes, and other objects. Celebrities, musicians, and athletes consider themselves as brands and are aware of their licensing value, looking for hints of recognizable features in popular games. Authorship also will become more complicated as artificial intelligence (AI) technologies which also will pose challenges at the intersection of the right of publicity and copyright law.

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