Owning e-Sports: Proprietary Rights in Professional Computer Gaming
Among the most significant commercial activities to emerge on the Internet, both in terms of revenue generated and numerical participation, has been multi-player gaming. Such Internet gaming increasingly includes professional play. These "e-sports" feature the structure of team owners, sponsorships, leagues, prize money, and star players that have long been familiar in physical sport competitions. But because these competitions are played in a virtual environment, control of rights to the matches is anything but familiar. E-sports play is typically mediated by proprietary software, raising a set of difficult issues regarding the licensing and control of professional matches and tournaments. As e-sports become increasingly established around the world, unsettled questions of copyright, right of publicity, and neighboring rights will need to be resolved among players, team owners, and developers of e-sports platforms.