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Gaming in public places


Camp
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I'm currently setting up various video game tournaments at local sports bars and night clubs. It's a simple idea in an effort to drum up awareness of the chain of game stores I work for (Game Crazy). We go in, set up several consoles and hold a structured tournament at the business. We have fun, the bar employees have fun, and (most importantly) the patrons of the bar have a great time. The tournaments are free to enter and are simply used as a promotional campaign for Game Crazy and the host site.

 

I haven't had any issues until one nightclub manager asked me if he could be liable for any licenseing issues. I know that restaurants/bars/etc who expect music to be played either by live "cover" bands or recorded material pay regular licensing fees to either ASCAP or BMI -the two main middle men for distributing such fees to artists.

 

I do not know if this pertains to video games. I'm quite sure Microsoft/Nintendo/Sony would not come down us as we're positively promoting their products but I'd like to know for sure. Would video games fall under the same type of licensing rules? Would the ASCAP & BMI payments already cover video games? I'm just not sure.

 

Any lawyers in the house?

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I honestly have no idea, Camp. I'd go through the legalese in a game manual with a fine tooth comb for text similiar to the disclaimers on DVDs - "no public performance" etc.

 

I don't believe there's any ASCAP structure for videogame music, but I could very well be wrong on that.

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Well, video games have the same disclaimer as music and movies

 

"Unauthorized copying, reverse engineering, transmission, public performance, rental, pay for play, or circumvention of copy protection is strictly prohibited."

 

I don't know what is considered a public performance for a video game, but take that as you will.

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There's a bar here in SF that has a couple of PS2s set up, which patrons can play for free. I guess they are violating that portion of the legal disclaimer. They've had this set-up for a few years.

 

Or they're paying some licensing firm like ASCAP or BMI.

 

I think the suggestion to contact Game Crazy's legal staff is a good one. I only hope they can get back to me in a timely fashion.

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