WIPO Copyright Workshop for Game Developers

1 12 2017

   Speakers and Delegates of the WIPO Copyright Seminar

       Last November 21, Grace emailed me and Alstaire that she registered us for a free two day seminar called: Sub Regional Workshop on Living from Copyright in the Creative Industries: Business and Legal Issues for Game Developers. The said workshop was organized by the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) in cooperation with the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL)  with the assistance of the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism (MCST), Republic of Korea. The said workshop will be held at the Dusit Thani Hotel on November 28 and 29 from 9:30 am to 4:30 pm.

     Attached on the email is the two day program with foreign speakers from WIPO, a former director from a game company, a copyright/licensing lawyer and others. The program was very interesting as it can help increase our knowledge about copyright, marketing and publishing our mobile game, so I was excited to attend the event but unfortunately, I had another commitment on the 29th so I cannot make it on the said date.

November 28, 2017 

     During the registration, all the participants were generously given a book: Mastering the Game: Business and Legal Issues for Video Game Developers published by WIPO (the principal author was Mr. David Greenspan, one of the speakers in the workshop) and a paper entitled : The Legal Status of Video Games: Comparative Analysis in National Approaches by various authors one of which was one of the speakers Atty. Andy Ramos. 

10:00 am  – 10:30 am   

Opening Ceremony

     Due to traffic and other reasons, few of the registered participants arrived on time, so the organizers waited for almost 10 am before the program started instead of 9:00 am. So instead of a two hour lunch break, it was reduced to 1 hour to make up for the 1 hour loss. 

Ms. Josephine R. Santiago, LL.M

     Ms. Josephine R. Santiago, LL.M, the Director General of IPOPHL gave the first welcoming remarks. She said that it was the first time that WIPO and IPOPHL organized a copyright seminar for video game  developers. Whereas  a seminar for copyright of music was held 2 or 3 years ago and another one was held this year. Video games are becoming more popular, due to its entertainment value,  educational value for advocacy, it also bonds family and friends and it helps lessen the stress of daily lives of many of the young and old.  It is now an opportune time for IPOPHL to promote and introduce a National Intellectual Property strategy to the youth and and the private sector to promote creativity and innovation. She cited South Korea where games such as Pororo and Invention City helps promote IP to young children. 

     She reminisced the times of the pre-digital age where children of her generation would be playing with jack stones, running around and other local games such as patintero, where there were no digital games to play with. She hopes the seminar would help promote Intellectual Property (IP) to the younger generation who are exposed to new technologies as IP contributes to the well being of the country. She cited some statistics on the contribution of the creative industries in 2010 study that it created 14.4% of the total employment as compared to 11.4% in 2006. In terms of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) revenue the valued added of the software and database industry was P17.4 billion, wholesale, buying and selling was around P14.2 billion and the database processing and publishing was around P10 billion.  She cited the potential of the video industry of the country.

Mr. Jincheoi Lee

     Mr. Lee is the Director of the Korean Cultural Center of the Philippines. He cited the creative industry is growing more rapidly and the Philippines is 3rd in the e-games popularity after Russia and China; number 4 is the US. South Korea hopes to collaborate copyright works for the cultural and economic development of the world. 

Mr. Dimiter Gantchev

     Mr. Gantchev, is the Deputy Director, Copyright Infrastructure Division, WIPO, Geneva. He said that this is the first WIPO video game workshop in the country. WIPO is one of the United Nations’ specialized agencies to help countries reach international standards in IP and enable it to participate in economic development. The workshop will show why IP matters and how to exploit IP to create more jobs and generate additional income streams.

     WIPO invited government copyright officials from China, Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam to attend the seminar.

      Participants included game developers, lawyers, students, academe, government cultural offices and other private firms in the creative industry sector.

10:30 am – 11:55 am

Topic 1 : Setting the Scene: The Current Video Game Industry Landscape

Mr. Dimiter Gantchev

     Mr. Gantchev’s talk was mostly on the economic side of the copyright, IP, creativity, creative industries, digitization of the economy and others. The presentation was a bit abstract as he explains these topics from a macro point of view, the definition of the concepts, their role in the development of the economy, its challenges and misconceptions, relationships with one another, evolving systems, findings and conclusion. He showed some charts on the GDP and employment in the core copyright industries, different countries with different percentages in the creative industry. The correlation of digitization and quality of life in terms of GDP per capita, better life balance and human development index. 

     In summary based on his slide presentation: IP is perceived today as an indicator of development and is linked to sustainable development. The creative industry has significant contribution and is interconnected with the economy where it has output and employment multipliers. The creative industries contribute significantly to economic growth and feature as a strategy for national development worldwide. Video games is the fastest growing area in the creative sector with a global game audience of 2.2 to 2.6 billion people, revenue for 2017 is expected to be $108.9 billion and projected to be $128.5 billion in 2020. The Asia Pacific region is the leader in game revenues, with China garnering 25% of the world total. 

Mr. David Greenspan

     Mr. Greenspan is a former Senior Director for legal and business affairs at Bandai Namco Entertainment America Inc., principal author of the WIPO publication “Mastering the Game”, Adjunct Professor at Santa Clara University School of Law, where he teaches a class in entertainment transactions.

     David showed the success of the video game industry in a relatively short period of time. However, he narrated that it was not like that at the beginning, for example it took many years to convince the public and business people of the potential of Playstation. The projected game revenues for 2017 surpasses the music industry and close to the revenues of the film and publishing industry. Now there are numerous universities around the world offering courses in game development; with the US having around 400 institutions teaching the course. He showed in his slides big game titles such as Fallout 4, Grand Theft Auto 5 and Call of Duty: WWII with hundreds of millions in sales within just 24 hours of release. The 24 hour revenues from some of these games even surpass the weekend revenues of popular box office films. 

     He then explained the geographic revenue share of the continents with Asia having 47% of the global market revenues, with China having the highest global share. But popular games in one country does not necessarily be as popular in another country. Each country has its own local taste, so localization of language, how the game is played need to be addressed. Countries have their own preferences on how a game is played where consoles are more popular in the US, mobile phone are more popular in China and Japan. The profile of game players have changed over the last 20 years.

     David then showed more slides showing the main players in the game industry such as the developer,    publisher, console manufacturers, other platforms (mobile) distribution players and ancillary (e-sports, licensing, VR). The top publishers, major console and mobile publishers, challenges and issues in consoles, VR technology, Pokemon augmented reality, rise of e-sports, new business models, legal issues, developer rights, rights of publicity and gambling issues were also briefly explained in his presentation. A short question and answer time was followed after his presentation.

12:00 am  – 1:00 pm     Lunch

1:00 pm – 2:00 pm 

Topic 2 :  Overview of the Legal Framework for Video Games

Mr. Andy Ramos Gil de la Haza

     Mr. de la Haza is a Partner and Head of the Entertainment and IP Department at Bardaji & Honrado Abogados, Madrid, Spain.

     Video game protection is through patent, trademark, trade secrets and copyright. Andy gave the definition and basic principles of trademark and copyright. For copyright there is no formality required, and it covers the elements of video games such as music, character, maps, names and figure like those of Lara Croft, performing actors and codes. However, there is no copyright law in the world that addresses this issue. He then explained the legal classification of video games and issues of authorship among the many people in the production of a game. If there is an issue in authorship, the remuneration follows, but in the US, other production personnel are considered as hired for pay rather than sharing in the profits. Whereas in Europe, the legal system is very protective for authors. Issues of rights can spill through the users with the growing interaction of games which is generally ruled by the terms and conditions of the game and full transfer of rights to the publisher. There are technological protection measures (TPM) in the chip hardware to control access to copyright content (piracy). Issues for TPM are also discussed whether TPM should be also used in the disc or console or can the user circumvent TPM to do acts permitted by law. 

   

      In conclusion, video games are self-regulated with many open issues in authorship and remuneration. There is no uniform legal classification, legislation and protection. So Andy’s advice for those in the video game publishing, go to a specialized attorney, identify the different assets of your project, analyze how to protect it, chain of rights, register when recommended, don’t publish information unnecessarily assign or license intangible assets.

Mr. Jose Jesus Disini

     Since Andy explained the trademark and copyright definition and issues, Mr. Disini did away with most of his presentation and just showed a slide and explained how a shy macaque (monkey) took a selfie under his guidance and Mr. David Slater the photographer was sued by the organization People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in the US. The issue is who owns the copyright for the picture, which obviously does not belong to the macaque as it cannot use the money. But in the end Mr. Slater agreed to donate 25% of future earnings from the image to protecting the Indonesian macaques. 

     Mr. Disini then posed questions about the future of IP as technology advances, with  artificial intelligence (AI) which may someday create its own IP with commercial value, who then owns the copyright?  We don’t know where the technology sector is headed; as technology changes the interaction changes so the law should also change with the times. 

     After the talk, there was a question and answer forum where Mr. Alvin Juban, president of the Game Developers Association of the Philippines asked about how to bring about closer cooperation of the ASEAN like the European Union in terms of copyright, since ASEAN countries don’t care much about copyright.

      Three delegates answered the question with  Ms. Soon Hyun Myung, senior program officer, copyright division of WIPO explained that Korea more than 20 years ago was also not concerned about copyright but since then it has benefitted much from copyright and that the Korean experience will be shared in the next day.

     Mr. Gantchev commented that the country should make the copyright law efficient then people will follow since it will bring the benefit to the creator and it need not be popular.

     Ms. Carmen G. Peralta of IPOPHL shared that there is something being done in terms of copyright in the ASEAN for 2016 to 2025 by having a database of copyright works in the region. Myanmar has no IP regime yet. She agrees it is a long process and we cannot expect to amend laws for each country as it will take many years to do that. 

2:00 pm – 3:00 pm

Topic 3 : Entering the Video Games Market – Licensing IP

Mr. David Greenspan

     David began by defining what is licensing and where one can create a game based on licensed property such as  from popular books, comic books and movies. The failure to obtain the appropriate rights could prevent the game’s distribution. The benefits of licensing for both the developer and licensor was highlighted. He then showed the evolution of soccer game videos from the earliest to the present and the issues it brings.

     The pros and cons of licensing, the failure to clear the rights  such as a tattoo design is copyrighted in the US and a developer could be sued if a similar design is used in a game but was not licensed. Some litigation regarding IP are not valid but can be costly to the developer. The developer could pay for damages or have to stop selling the game. David showed various actual cases of IP litigation in games involving the use of tattoos, actual buildings – Figueroa Tower, similar  strip club name or design in the area, Bell helicopter design of Textron, use of Dilinger name in guns, use of a furniture corporate maker in a game without license, use of Humvee truck, etc. there should be a risk analysis of a trademark, a license can still be cheaper than arguing first amendment rights and fair use. 

     The license agreement terms have to be spelled out and major issues negotiated. Another form of licensing is rights of publicity. Again many actual cases have been shown, more on the image likeness  and persona being used but the look is not that similar but there is still a case; other are names and appearance – like Noriega, same football jersey color and number, similar performance of a band and others are other examples of legal cases. 

3:30 pm  – 4:30 pm

Topic 4 : Game Development and Distribution, Publishing Agreements

Mr. David Greenspan

     Since there are a few minutes left to the talk, David just briefly ran through the topic and promised to continue it for the next day. He explained the role and key players of the development team, the benefits of the developer on their own, the advantages of working with a publisher and the publishers’ role.

November 29, 2017

     I thought Alstaire can make it on both dates, when I texted him to take notes and pictures on the 29th, he texted back that he could also not attend on the second day.  He only realized on the evening of the 28th that he had a scheduled TESDA assessment commitment on the 29th. I was really disappointed that Alstaire could not also attend on the second day as the topics were very interesting. 

     These are the missed topics: Topic 5 – Digital and Mobile Distribution and Marketing by David Greenspan; Topic 6 – E-Sports and Regulatory Issues ( privacy, data collection) by Andy Ramos Gil de la Haza; Topic 7 – Policy and Industry Issues by Ms. Jung Hye Choi, Chairperson, Serious Games and Gamification Division, Korea Game Society; Topic 8 – Videogames in the Philippines – Challenges by Alvin Juban, President of the Game Developers Association of the Philippines. 

     Overall the workshop was excellent: the venue, the speakers, the topics, the food (snacks and lunch). I hope there will be a future workshop on small mobile game publishers, which will be directly applicable for the country.

Article and Photos by Edward L. Tan

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Paul Streitz’s Animation Project

13 10 2017

     Last October 10, 2017, Grace emailed me about Paul Streitz giving a talk about “A Philippine Animation Movie Company?” to be held on October 12 at the New World Hotel from 1:30 pm to 4:00 pm, the talk was for free. I was curious what I can learn from the talk especially the marketing of animation shows, so I registered for the event.

     The talk started about 1:50 pm and ended about an hour later. Paul is a writer and producer from the US, who wrote some books on economics and a string of musical plays for theaters in New York. Paul explained the reason of why he is in the country –  half jokingly he said after his divorce, he had money to do some animation projects for his past musical plays but he didn’t want to invest a lot of money in building a team of animators to do his project. So he figured out that coming to the Philippines where a local animation company can do his play entitled ‘Madison Avenue The Subliminal Movie’ in flash animation for 90 minutes before he dies. The idea is to prolong the life of the property; as live film has a shorter life span.

     After the brief introduction, Paul showed the business side of the film business, where the dollar and cents were broken down to show that there is money to be made for all the parties involved – from the writer, owner, producer, distributor, merchandiser and production company. He showed estimated figures for big hit films such as the Simpsons and a not so well known film only shown in the US but the profit figures are still worth the effort. Mickey Mouse and the financial side of the merchandise part of the character was also highlighted. He said that other stories with expired copyright could be ideal animation projects such as ‘Treasure Island’, Wizard of Oz’,’Oklahoma’ and ‘Annie’.

     Paul then proceeded to pitch his string of plays such as ‘Oh Johnny’, ‘Madison Avenue’and other plays. Being 20 years in market research, he showed some figures that Madison Avenue has great reviews from both critics and audiences alike. He continued to explain the character, about the surprising plot and remastering the the sound to make it up to date and recorded the dialogue for the animation project. Paul also talked about Gary Cherpakov, who was the brilliant music and lyrics writer for his plays. Paul was all praised for Gary whom nothing was hard for him to write,  as it all came naturally for him and the work could be done perfectly in a day or two. Instead of using rhyming words, Gary was more on rhyming the sounds, and in Paul’s opinion ‘Oh Johnny’ is one of the top five best musicals.

 

       After the talk, there was some question and answer portion and some light snacks for the attendees. I don’t know anyone in the group except for Grace, the rest were composed of freelance 2D and 3D animators, animation teachers, students, producers for events and live film. After a few minutes of staying around, I left the venue but Grace and other people stayed for many more minutes to ask Paul for more questions. Grace said Paul was more on the music  – 70% rather than on the animation – 30%.  Anyone who was interested to talk to Paul further was invited for lunch the next day at the same hotel.

      The presentation was really new to me, as I am not exposed to musicals, much less to animation musicals. I don’t recall any popular flash animation that pops out right of my mind to compare with the proposed ‘Madison Avenue’ film. If ever pushed through, I think it will be tough for the local animation production company to present the proposed musical to highlight the music, the choreography and character movements that the target audience would respond to.  But just the same, I wish Paul and the team would do well on the project. As for me I’m just focused on finishing and launching the mobile game in the next few weeks and editing and improving our web series.

     Less than a week after the talk, I got to listen to the CD of the Madison Avenue songs that Paul’s assistant handed out each participant. The songs were really nice, clear and had a happy feel to it. It was only after hearing the various songs that I got to appreciate the proposed movie as the songs, message and topic are one of a kind.

 

 

 





UCCW Comics Drawing Quality

4 09 2017

Last August 21, Gilbert “Geebo” Vigonte our comic artist for the United Crop Circle Warriors (UCCW) e-comics emailed me asking for five sequential pages (nothing more, nothing less) of our e-comics to be shown as sample pages for this year’s Marvel Artist Hunt happening at the APCC, as it was his dream of being part of Marvel’s great comic artists.

At first I didn’t recall what the APCC was and Geebo did not write when and where was it going to be held. So I searched the Internet and recalled that it was the AsiaPop Comicon that was held at the World Trade Center (WTC) in Manila since 2015 and for this year it will be held on August 25 – 27, 2017 at the same venue.

Later on I emailed him if it was colored pages, he replied its all in black and white; with no colors and dialogues. Mr. C.B. Cebulski, the talent scout for Marvel and Vice President for Brand Management and Development for Asia will do the selection. Mr. Cebulski must be able to tell what is happening on the pages through the artist’s work without the dialogues. And it must be in black and white to determine if the shadings and stages are correct and appropriate for the tone of the scene. I naturally gave him the permission and wished him good luck but I did not ask which of the five sequential pages he will submit. But I did asked Geebo to send me pictures of him and Mr. Cebulski at the event which he promised.

Later on I emailed Geebo several times as there were many details I would like to know before and after the selection event. He wrote that there were more than 150 hopefuls who passed their artwork before the said event. The deadline was on Wednesday (August 23) and the APCC was held on Friday. He was called Saturday in the afternoon and was asked to come on Sunday at 3:45 pm. He surmised that Mr. Cebulski reviewed the artworks on his arrival on Thursday before the final selection of which Geebo was one of the 10 candidates whose portfolios will still be reviewed in New York. The candidates chosen whose style ranges from Disney to animé  where from indie comics for the international market. Geebo said they still have a lot of things to do before they get to pencil at Marvel. They will run test sequential like scripts from an editor of a title (X-men, Avengers, Daredevil, etc.) Doing layouts for the script and cover art for their comics. It really depends on the editors if they like his work.

Unfortunately, Geebo and his friends were not able to take some pictures of Mr. Cebulski as he was very busy at the three day event. The interview was around 15 to 30 minutes, and Geebo was so nervous that he forgot he needed to pee at that moment!   Geebo asked Mr. Cebulski about the pages we’ve done and he said he was really impressed. There were only few revisions that he pointed out – more on the background and panel breaking, but generally he liked our pages very much.  Mr. Cebulski already knows what’s going on just by looking at the pages. He asked to send for other pages, but Geebo said he will ask permission from me again – which he never did  anymore. Geebo was very thankful for letting him use the pages, if it wasn’t for those pages, he would never had been called. He promised to make the remaining pages on the UCCW 3 more striking.

Even without the pictures, as the publisher and co-creator of the UCCW, I am very proud and happy to have received good comments from a Marvel big boss at least about our comic drawing quality. I am also very happy that we’re helping a young man like Geebo to strive to be better to reach his goals in life.  It is rare that we receive good comments for our work; positive comments from international industry authorities serves as an impetus and inspiration to help us do better since it indicates that our work has some future or potential. The other time a good comment given was from a DC/Warner animation producer with a 5 time Emmy under his belt for our animation in 2011 (read the blog: Seminars and Lessons Applied). He gave 3 comments on our animation; 2 of the comments were spot on ( “That’s something new.”, “There’s a formula for that.”) and the 3rd one I have not written it yet – maybe sometime in the future. 

In contrast, years ago some local keyboard bashers would give comments such as WTF (very disrespectful; what did we do to him to deserve such comment?) for our animation introduction at Youtube ; another would write panget (ugly) and another one – just another animé wannabe like Disney’s Totally Spies in our website which we did not post anymore. Well I guess the keyboard bashers don’t really understand what we’re doing, much less how hard it is to produce an original animation series, game, short video or comics. If they would do their own original stuff, they will realize that most probably they can’t do any better work – I mean the whole thing and not just a single drawing for their own idea of a comic, game, short video or animation. I’m 100% sure they are all just talk, with no products to show now and in the future. One can hardly see any original animation content in the Philippines, and if one tries to do one, it will be bashed by local keyboard critics mercilessly. 

 Geebo had his own share of keyboard bashers, that he had to lash out on those anonymous bashers on his Facebook page last year or sometime this year. I’m glad Geebo took a chance on us because we have a smaller budget compared to the more established publishers in the market. Other artists had no time to do the job or the pay was too small for them – I’m just wondering what ever happened to them. What is evident is that Geebo keeps on trying to improve his craft and the same with us, we try to improve our concept, stories, etc. as we go on doing new stuff.