Tag Archives: create

I think I’m a clone now

Dr. Tom Phillips worked on a CREATe project with me, as a research associate (Dr. Keith M. Johnston was the co-investigator).  Our project on Games and Transmedia dealt with a wide range of issue pertaining to law, business and these emerging creative industries – including art/business tensions, formal and informal regulation, and how risk and disputes are handled. One point that we kept coming to, from a range of starting points, was the tricky and often emotive subject of ‘cloning’ in the games industry. I had a few paragraphs on this in my article last year, but the real outcomes of these discussions can be found in Tom’s article, published as open access today (free for anyone to download) in the journal Cultural Trends.

In “Don’t clone my indie game, bro”: Informal cultures of videogame regulation in the independent sector (click to read/download), Tom reports on the history of cloning as an issue, informed by events and conversations in the games world, and academic and legal developments. The article also gives a great insight into discussions we had with a fascinating group of developers and others in December 2013, as part of the project. Tom has made use of many of the key points from those discussions, to try and provide a greater understanding of how the rights and wrongs of cloning are discussed within the industry (or industries). He concludes by wondering whether we have reached a position where further legal interest is inevitable.

Do read the article – and I address this in particular to legal readers of the blog, because Tom’s take on how law affects the development of and conversations within a fast-moving industry is worthy of your consideration.

Abstract:

In the contemporary games sector, independent developers feel there is an inadequate level of protection for their intellectual property, particularly with regards to game clones. There is also a sense that neither players nor policy-makers completely understand the specificities of how IP may be creatively, if not legally infringed. As a result, there has increasingly been a shift towards the construction of a culture of self-regulation for indie developers, attempting to publicly shame cloners via social media, directly impacting infringers’ reputation and sales and bypassing formal regulation.This article uses interviews and workshop discussions with developers to examine the manner in which this informal culture of regulation has been perpetuated in relation to current videogame copyright legislation, and suggests how the interrelation between producers and policy-makers may help to inform the direction of future policy decisions. Examining the way appropriate practice is informally managed in independent gaming, the article considers the soundness of policy in the contemporary videogames industry.

Ubiquitous chipped

(Edit: updated with better formatting)

I’m just returning from a fascinating two-day conference on ‘designing smart cities’ at the University of Strathclyde, chaired by Prof. Lilian Edwards (who is responsible for the title of this post) and supported by CREATe, Horizon, and Glasgow City Council.

I particularly enjoyed this event.  I have an on-off academic interest in the interactions between law and the city (which brings in geography and architecture) (seen most obviously in my ‘virtual walls’ article), and further personal interests in transportation and in modernist architecture.  And, of course, in both domains, “technology”.  Glasgow has received Government funding after a competition: see Future City Glasgow, and so was an ideal location.

There are various plans for audio, articles and the like; these are just a few quick first impressions.  No offence to those omitted – my note taking varied across the two days, especially in and around my own contributions.  (I was there to speak on the sharing economy, which is work at an early stage, and leading me into interesting place – I had a lively lunchtime conversation about English vs London vs Scottish taxi and private hire licensing, on which I could bore for, well, Scotland/London/England…).

Richard Bellingham directs Strathclyde’s Institute for Future Cities, and is involved with the new MSc Global Sustainable Cities.  He was introducing the theme, highlighting that a majority of the world’s population will live in cities, which to be successful will need to be equitable, distinctive, and delightful.  There are drivers for change, which include resources, the ongoing recession, and changes in business processes.  He gave a range of examples of smart city projects, including analysis with multiple datasets.

Rob Kitchin (NUI Maynooth) gave a wide-ranging talk, including a peak into the Dublin Dashboard, but the highlight was addressing 7 critiques of smart cities. Ahistorical, aspatial, homogenizing; the politics of urban data; technocratic governance and solutionism; neoliberal political economy and corporatisation of governance; buggy, brittle, hackable – combining two open complex systems (cities, digital systems); profound social, political, ethical effects; reinforcing power geometries and inequalities. Need to think critically, but there is promise and smart cities are already coming into being.

My former Edinburgh colleague Judith Rauhofer reminded us that there’s always a good reason why the use of a new service makes sense, even when privacy lawyers potentially play the role of  party poopers – one can be tempted to jump into the smart city, or the Internet of things, out of convenience, lack of alternatives (e.g. if smart TVs become the norm and non-smart TVs fade from the market), economic interest, and the public interest (altruism?).  Yet, we see the continued gathering of information, including location (e.g.  eCall – for all new cars – sends out beacon to emergency services – sounds great but), behaviour, as technology becomes  ‘invisible’, and in particular physiological – e.g. FitBit dietary apps, even the smart vibrator.

David Murakami Wood, once of Newcastle but now at Queen’s University in Canada, gave a keynote address and also participated in a panel.  Unfortunately I missed the start of the keynote, but was able to catch much of it, including his distinction between three uses or approaches (rational spatial planning in the European style, technology as a driver in US approaches, and discourses of modernisation and nationalism e.g. India.  He wry noted how smart city debates have become a vehicle for another round of ideal cities, although this time the corporate involvement is particular significant.  Amusingly, the ISO is already on the case with an attempt to standardise what a smart city is, with 46 core and 56 supporting indicators.  (More on David’s contributions in the note below).

Other issues discussed included CCTV, the position of Singapore, transition towns, and a barnstorming and much-anticipated presentation on driverless cars by engineer Prof. John Miles.

We had a neat wrap-up session (with eloquent people, and me), and I made two general points as part of this final panel.

The first is how some of the debates and experiences from the early period of the commercial Internet (1995-2000) still have value.  The conference included critiques of terra nullis portrayals (Rob Kitchin, Ayona Datta), a thorough investigation of the role of intermediaries and brokers (Alison Powell), a call for open platforms and to be wary of company towns and a drive towards ambient government (David Murakami Wood), a need to interrogate algorithms and data (Rob Kitchin), and bubbling away, how to handle questions of privacy and consent (Judith Rauhofer and Derek MacAuley).  All of these things, to some extent, were up for debate as lawmakers ‘met’ the Internet, some for the first time.

The second was the degree to which questions of subsidiarity shone through, especially in the sessions on energy.  For instance, Francesco Sindico wondered what role cities should be playing in global debates (and negotiations) on climate change, characterised as they have been so far by traditional negotiations between sovereign states, while others on his panel considered questions ranging from the innovation within post-stock transfer social housing to Singapore’s international strategy to the regional impact and consequences of the feed-in tariff in England.

(Apologies again. I’ll update this post when the proper stuff comes out…)

Smart people sign up for Smart Cities event

I’m delighted to share news of a two-day workshop on “Designing Smart Cities – opportunities and regulatory challenges” at the University of Strathclyde (Glasgow) later this year (31st March/1st April).

The event takes place at Strathclyde’s spectacular new Technology and Innovation Centre (TIC). I’ve been watching this building rise over the last few years (I regularly attend an exam board across the road from it), and I’m sure I won’t be the only one looking forward to seeing what they have done with the place.

There are some excellent speakers lined up.  (And when they’re all done, I’ll speak too). Smart cities is a topic that attracts a lot of interest and equal amounts of enthusiasm and cynicism (see for instance this recent Guardian series). Unsurprisingly, the speakers and topics are drawn from a very wide range of disciplines. Here’s a list of the things you are likely to hear about:

  • What are Smart Cities? Local and international perspectives.
  • Comparative International Perspectives: considering differences between developing & developed nation projects
  • Policing and privacy in smart cities: looking at ambient public space monitoring, public engagement & algorithmic surveillance
  • Ubiquitous computing, connected data and privacy in the home
  • Future Energy Management and Sustainability: considering implications of smart grids & metering e.g. climate change, privacy
  • Intelligent Built Environments & Urban Living: the role of big data in planning & design; growth of adaptive architecture e.g. buildings changing due to biometric inputs
  • Smart transport Infrastructure: aspects of intelligent roads and autonomous cars
  • Creative Smart Cities: issues such as ambient public art
  • Play through sports e.g. marathons; large scale events like Glasgow Commonwealth Games 2014

I’m particularly excited at the opportunity to hear a number of excellent speakers in person for the first time, including David Murakami Wood (Canadian-based expert on surveillance – and Newcastle graduate!), and Maynooth’s Rob Kitchin (a leading Irish geographer who ran the National Institute of Regional and Spatial Analysis and is working more and more on questions of data). The event is put together by Strathclyde’s professor of Internet law, Lilian Edwards.

Registration is currently free. Many of the events I’ve seen advertised on this topic are clearly targeted at those with very deep pockets; like so many emerging areas, it can seem that the expertise is only available at a high price. Sponsorship of this event allows for free registration, subject to availability. You can register at this link. Places are limited.

Games and gambling

Two pieces of mine have recently appeared in online law journals. They are available without charge or login from the journals concerned; both journals are open access journals. You can also download the articles from SSRN.

The first article emerges out of the CREATe project on games, transmedia and the law. Along with my UEA friends Dr. Keith M. Johnston and Dr. Tom Phillips, I have been thinking about legal and business issues in and around the games industry, with a particular interest in new and emerging business models. This particular piece, “Multiplayer Games: Tax, Copyright, Consumers and the Video Game Industries” (European Journal of Law and Technology | SSRN) is a discussion of the impact of legal measures in each of the three cited fields.

The successes of the games industry requires an analysis of the way in which the state is influencing, or attempting to influence, the development of the sector. Drawing from a research project on games, transmedia and the law, including a roundtable with developers and others from the industry, a critical perspective is provided on the impact of three types of law (tax, consumer and intellectual property) on the UK industry. The negotiation and eventual approval of a tax credit for video game development expenditure is reviewed. This is an example of the games industry lobbying for and welcoming the creation of a specific (but film-influenced) legal status for the “video game” – but the passage of the scheme raises troubling questions about the cultural status of games. A significant commercial issue, that of consumer protection, is then discussed. Consumer legislation may prove to constrain certain developments in relation to games; it is argued that there is a special impact on new platforms, because of the (deserved) official attention now being paid to in-app purchases. In relation to intellectual property, the alignment (or misalignment) of copyright law with concepts of value in the sector is considered, with particular reference to “cloning”. In conclusion, the particular impact of the three fields on new platforms, and the different degrees to which legislation is contributing to the development of the games sector, is considered. It is argued that the emerging business model of F2P non-console games is not handled as well as it should be, particularly as compared with other business models in the sector.

The second, shorter piece is an update for the law and technology journal SCRIPTed on recent developments in online gambling law. I discuss two particular developments: a significant retreat from the ‘deregulatory’ Gambling Act in Great Britain (amended to provide for greater control over foreign providers advertising or doing business in the UK), and a further step in the EU’s attempt to get to grips with the field – a Recommendation from the European Commission. The piece is “When The Dealin’s Done? Recent Developments in Online Gambling Law and Policy” (SCRIPTed | SSRN) and, to my great delight, was submitted on Kenny Rogers’ 68th birthday.

 

Artificial intelligence, competition – Monday plugging

(1) Supported by CREATe, here’s a fascinating workshop on artificial intelligence and the law, organised by my Edinburgh colleague Prof. Burkhard Schafer:

Ever since Larry Lessig’s proposal to understand “Digital Rights Management” as a form of regulation through code, the field of copyright in the digital economy has opened up a new field of research questions for Artificial Intelligence and Law. How can we represent in more intelligent and semantically richer ways legal concepts that ensure that all, and only, lawful use can be made of digital objects such as film clips or music tunes? How can Information Retrieval support e-discovery in IP litigation? How can we support through technology creators and digital businesses to manage their IP rights, or to use third party material in a law-compliant way? These are just a few of the questions that offer new and exciting applications for artificial intelligence in a legal context.

The call for papers closes this week, so do get in touch; the workshop itself is in December.  All of the details are available here.

(2) My former colleagues at the ESRC Centre for Competition Policy have a good opportunity for someone about to complete a PhD or with one recently in the bag – a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at a leading interdisciplinary centre (law, economics, business, political science) for academic research on competition and regulation.  Even for someone who only scraped the surface of CCP issues during my time there, it was a very vibrant, provocative group to work with – and if your interests are within the Centre’s research programme, it would be a pretty great chance to immerse yourself in relevant academic activity:

The Centre is a focus of research into Competition and Regulation across a range of disciplines, and welcomes applications in the area of competition or regulation policy from candidates with a strong background in competition law, industrial economics, or Political Science related to competition policy or regulation. Post doctoral fellows are expected to contribute to the Centre’s research individually and to develop joint research with other Centre members.