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August 3, 2006

Questions for the Game Attorney

Filed under: Thoughts and Rants — Tom B @ 2:05 pm

This is a spot for questions for Tom…industry Business and Legal, IGDA stuff, philosophy, suggestions for rants or article topics, offers for hot sex…whatever you like.

Have at it. But don’t be too surprised if you get a smartassed answer! Sometimes that’s the only kind of answer I have…


  1. This from - kyzzzz@gmail.com and a three letter log on name - kyz (WTF is that all about anyway?).

    “Is your firm considering hiring any associate attorneys now or in the near future?”

    Comment by Tom B — August 3, 2006 @ 2:11 pm

  2. This is hardly a business and legal guestion of general interest…but since you asked…No. I am not looking to hire any associate attorneys. And if I was I would not hire one from a chickenshit law firm like Moss and Barnett in of all places - Minnesota!

    What were you thinking taking a job there anyay?

    Tom B

    Comment by Tom B — August 3, 2006 @ 2:11 pm

  3. Seriously…I went with a firm like yours when I first got out of law school and the experience there gave me a great foundation for my present practice. Just don’t stay too long or take their BS too seriously. And remember you “serve the client’s interests”…not “serve the client with gravy and mashed potatos on the side”…if you get my meaning!

    But I’m still not hiring right now….

    Comment by Tom B — August 3, 2006 @ 2:34 pm

  4. Tom,

    I’ve got a distributed team working remotely on an Indy project. My issue is with regard to NDAs and their legitimacy across national boundaries. Do you know of a good way to get an affordable NDA which will adequately cover team members in the UK, the USA and Canada?


    Comment by Cael — August 4, 2006 @ 10:18 am

  5. Cael

    I moved your question to the main blog for my response.


    Tom B

    Comment by Tom B — August 4, 2006 @ 11:19 am

  6. Any advice for law students on how to enter the market for video game law? Anything you look for (or know potential employers look for) regarding courses, life experience, etc.? I’m interested in working as in-house council eventually, so any advice that can lead in that direction would be appreciated.

    Oh, and how’s the Mini like Seattle summers? Color me jealous.

    Comment by Tenchuu — September 6, 2006 @ 6:31 pm

  7. Technu

    Well I am not sure. I know how I did it…but I am not too sure that woudl help anyone else. I guess the best thing to do is attend Game Industry functions and network with developers. Don’t be ashamed to let them lknwo you are an attorney and that you would love an inside job.

    Learn as much as you can about the business of Games. Developers already know how to make them, but many need help with the business part, even if THEY don’t think so. Deliver value whenever you can. And become the best attorney you can in the mean times. These guys need it!

    Hope that helps….

    BTW…the move to Seattle is next week…so I guess I’ll have to wait for next summer.

    Comment by Tom B — September 6, 2006 @ 6:54 pm

  8. Hello Tom,

    I am not sure what happened to the post on here regarding a question I had earlier this month. But here it is again.

    Recently I got banned from playing an MMORPG game called Lineage 2. NCSOFT NA is the publisher. After 3 years of playing this game legitimately and without breaking any rules, I was told via email that I was banned due to illegal 3rd party software use to cheat in the game OR that I had been advertising the use of it.

    The letter I received is very obscure as to the actual reasoning behind why I was banned. I have also pre-paid for my subscription fee up front and being banned I asked for a refund for time I did not play. They have refused me this also.

    I have tried to contact these people via their customer support but for their Account Support section they only allow for emails and will not talk to you on the phone or by any other means. I have tried for weeks to try to talk to a live person to settle this misunderstanding, but they refuse to talk to me and say that the only means of communication with their account support is through their email, ticket/support web interface.

    I am dumbfounded as to how a gaming company can be this irresponsive toward their paying customers. How they can just write them off like this without any accountability on their part.

    Do you think I have a legal case against NCSOFT, if I decide to pursue the matter in court?

    Comment by Peter — May 31, 2007 @ 7:45 pm

  9. Technically, you may have a legal case…but if so it’s probably going to be fore the unused portion of your subscription…which is probably about $100-200 max. So, no lawyer would ever take your case alone, unless you paid them. And that would cost you 10,000’s of dollars. Maybe a class action suit if there were enough people in the same position that you are…but I don’t do that sort of stuff and those who do are picky about their battles.

    You might try a few local (in your state) consumer advocacy groups, the state attorney general’s office, or even the Federal Trade Commission.

    Other than that, your pretty much screwed, IMHO.

    Tom B

    [NOTE: I originally deleted this post because I felt it was way outside the scope of the questions I was willing to consider. But since you submitted it a second time, after I sent you private reply, I figured that I might as well post it, just in case anyone else was interested. Guess perseverance counts around here!]

    Comment by Tom B — June 1, 2007 @ 12:35 pm

  10. Tom, I’m so glad that I came across your site!

    I am one of the admins of a British BF2 Clan.

    We are currently having a bunfight over the legality of having a “Donations” section (the same as most clans), to help pay for our game server and Ventrilo server in much the same way that most clans do.

    Is this legal? Obviously we aren’t a charity and as such I can’t find any ruling on this that covers “Gaming Clans” asking for donations from the public that use our server.

    Any comment would be appreciated, we are quite a small clan and frankly, we are struggling with the costs involved.


    Comment by Ben — April 5, 2008 @ 11:46 pm

  11. Is this question for Tom, The Game Attorney, Buscaglia or for FaTe[F8S] Supreme Warlord of clan FaTe’s Minions? We actually played competitive BF2 for several years…what’s your tag?

    First off, this is not a legal opinion…as I am not qualified as a tax lawyer, and certainly not at all congnizent of UK tax law. But I have run a clan for years and been involved with this stuff…so here are my thoughts, for whatever they’re worth.

    If you guys just pool your money and get a server, that’s one thing. But when you start accepting donations (which are not really “donations” but gifts) from others to play on your server there is a possibility that a taxing authority would look at the person receiving these gifts are receiving income and then ask them to pay the tax on that income, plus some sort of penalty for late payment of something like that. After all, if you accept these gifts, someone has to get the money and then pay out. So there would be a money trail so it’s possible.

    In reality, I suspect that it would be unlikely that anyone would care. If it was done through a business account, it would show up as a zero sum transaction because eventually all the money in would go out. If done through an individual it could be treated as income.

    Either way, I don’t think it would be the sort of thing you’d go to jail for, but you could end up getting you hand slapped and fined or something like that, in a worse case scenario.

    At least that’s my best guess…

    GL and HF!!!

    P.S. If you guys ever player Tribes, my son is doing a legacy game at Garage Games called Legions that will be going open beta in a few weeks. It loads and plays through a browser and you guys might find it a pleasant diversion…as it totally kicks ass, Check it out as www.instantaction.com!

    Comment by Tom B — April 6, 2008 @ 8:32 am

  12. Anyone can play on the server, it’s public. Any donations (or gifts) received would go into the pot to help pay for the game server and the Ventrilo (VOIP) server, which is also open to the public.
    They would purely be “Donations to help keep the server running”, as is stated on other clan sites. There would be no special status for those donating.

    Comment by Ben — April 13, 2008 @ 10:41 am

  13. Hi I have been playing an mmorpg game game called Lineage2 for no real reason my account was banned for third party program or advertising of game currency or power lvling . which I didi none of. All my attemps to contact them basically is blowing me off. Iam not seeking to get paid for services refunded to me but getting my account back that I spent 3 yrs of my life building and spent monthly fees to play. Is ther any way that your firm can help to get account activated again?

    Comment by Tim — May 20, 2008 @ 9:02 am

  14. No….

    Comment by Tom B — May 20, 2008 @ 9:19 am

  15. Hey Tom,
    I am currently current First Year Law Student in New Jersey, who has questioned his desire to be a lawyer several times. I am an avid gamer, god-awful attempted to developer, and connoisseur of technology in general. In all honesty, you are one of the inspirations that have convinced me not to abandon my dream of becoming a lawyer for a more noble profession, such as a manure shoveler.

    All joking aside, you have shown me that while there likely can only be one “The Game Attorney”, it is possible to use a legal education in such a way that it coincides with your passions.

    But I digress, I have worked for a big NYC law firm as a paralegal prior to coming to law school . . .and I hated it. I hated the bureaucracy, and I hated how every associate told me to not go to law school because it only led to misery. Currently, I intern for a local county prosecutor and I find the work environment much more tolerable, and even though there seems to be just as much work, the small firm environment is more suitable to my nature, since I get to interact with clients and actually talk to attorney’s who are not miserable.

    Finally, onto my question. Do you think it is possible to get into the legal aspects of the gaming industry without “BigLaw” experience? Any advice for those of us who want to skip the 3-4 years of indentured servitude to Partners and their faceless masters?

    I am trying to get involved with as many IP and tech related groups as possible, in school and out, and I am planning on doing some pro bono work for the New Jersey Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts over the summer while still working for the prosecutor. Anything else I can/should/must do?

    Comment by LawGamerU — April 7, 2009 @ 7:08 am

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