by Nick Boisson
I have been a gamer for many years, but something that I have come to adore more and more in recent years is the rise of the independently developed video game. The idea of a small team — or even one guy — taking an idea they have had and just saying, "Screw it! We're going to make this on our own terms," is something so inspiring to me as both a journalist and creative, as I'm sure it is to so many others out there. But, the truth is, I have never thought of the legal ramifications of working in an industry that is both creative and commercial. I am sure that many of the rest of you — as well as the creatives — have not thought too hard about this either. Luckily, we have companies like New Media Rights.
New Media Rights provides free and drastically reduced-fee legal services to independent creators like game developers, independent filmmakers, startups and consumers. When you need solid legal advice about your intellectual property, but all your money is tied into said intellectual property, this is the team to approach. But what really has our attention here at CB Games is their web video series: LAGD. So, what is LAGD, you ask?
LAGD: Legal Assistance for Game Developers is a web video series — found on New Media Rights' YouTube page — where they share with the viewers a number of key legal tips to consider before venturing into the world of game development and also speak to a number of game developers that also started from scratch. There are already 13 hours of interviews with the likes of Gabe Newell, Chris Avellone, Adriaan de Jongh and Edmund McMillen.
Here's a cool trailer for exactly what it is that these fine folks have been doing:
Honestly, it is a great series and it has shed a light on many legal and creative aspects of independent game development that I had never even thought of. But, here's the deal: they want to make more!
Last week, New Media Rights began an IndieGoGo campaign to help fund their organization and help them continue to help creators in new media keep doing what they're doing, without being bullied by big corporations. Also, they will be able to bring us a second season of LAGD. This second season will provide more of the fantastic content that has already gone up and any funds contributed will go toward helping this non-profit organization continue to provide legal assistance to creators and startups for a reduced-fee or for no fee at all. Contributions will also help LAGD find more staff to help with the video series as well as more developers and industry professionals to speak with about their craft and the legal woes they have faced along the way.
Here's a bit from the IndieGoGo page about what New Media Rights would like to do in the second season:
In season two, we’d like to do episodes on some of these topics
- Cloning games: what you can do if your game has been cloned OR what you can get away with cloning
- Privacy policies and data collection in mobile games
- Putting together your own contracts without a lawyer in the indie games industry
- An introduction to contracts in the mainstream game industry
- FTC disclosure and advertising requirements
- Venture financing and mergers/acquisitions
To create a season two of LAGD, as well as to launch other informative video series, we need funding to both
- keep providing legal services and advocacy for game developers, filmmakers, internet users, and tech startups on a one-to-one basis. Working with people directly allows us to identify, research, and compile information that will be useful in our video scripts
- turn that specific research that we do for individuals into video guides.
As a site that has always advocated for creator-owned work in any form, the work provided by New Media Rights is something that we at Comics Bulletin would like to see more of. This is not just a matter of free legal assistance for independent game developers, but for help in making sure that no corporation steps on any independent creative artist's free speech.