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    Games as Authorial Platforms? An Exploration of the Legal Status of User-created Content from Digital Games

    Aroni, Gabriele ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-1343-613X (2023) Games as Authorial Platforms? An Exploration of the Legal Status of User-created Content from Digital Games. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law. ISSN 0952-8059

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    Abstract

    Digital games can be considered as composed of two main components: the props, i.e. visual, textual, and aural elements such as codes, 3D models and animations; and the form, specially the interaction between players and games, the act of playing itself. This dichotomy thus begs the question whether digital games are indeed games if nobody plays them, and ultimately: who is the owner of the gameplay and any by-product of the interaction between the game and the players? This paper explores the copyright status of content created by users with digital games, such as gameplay videos and images, for example art based on digital game assets, namely virtual photography; as well as customized in-game objects. Many modern digital games offer considerable freedom to players, in terms of how the action on screen evolves and the visual outcomes that the game can produce. Scholars have asserted that digital games avatars, the characters created in games, should be considered a joint work between players and the game developers and some game companies allow the commercial use of videos created from their games. Conversely, other companies expressly prohibit such use, and issue DMCA takedown notices to infringers. Attention will be devoted to specific games as authorial tools, such as SpaceEngine and Townscaper, where there are neither objectives nor challenges, but they are rather tools that enable players’ creativity.

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