This month we take a look at the latest developments on esports’ potential inclusion in the Olympic Games and an interesting partnership between the worlds of music and esports. We also examine an amendment to the draft Copyright Directive which could affect the organisers of esports events and in the context of player welfare, we discuss the issue of mental health, which has been a widely spoken about issue in the esports community in recent weeks.
Copyright protection extended for esports?
While much of the conversation about the upcoming EU Copyright Directive is centred on the perceived threat to memes and user-generated content, a recent and largely unnoticed provision affecting sports events may have an impact on esports.
This provision will allow what is referred to as ‘sports event organisers’ to benefit from increased intellectual property protection in relation to their events. Currently, organisers of these events benefit from copyright in the specific broadcast of a game, but they have no way of stopping audience members from filming their own footage and exploiting that. The new provision in the EU Copyright Directive would rectify this by specifying that only the event organiser has the right to reproduce and exploit footage from its events. At present there is no discussion of what a sport event organiser is, so it is unclear who exactly this protection will apply to, but there is a very real possibility that the definition (and enhanced protection) could extend to the organisers of esports events.
The text of the Directive has been agreed by the European Parliament, but will need to be formally approved in January 2019. (The amendments to the proposed EU Copyright Directive can be found here).
Further set-back to esports inclusion in the Olympics
Last month we discussed the lack of an overarching governing body as a barrier to the inclusion of esports in the Asian Games. Since that story, the IOC has cast further doubt on whether we will ever see esports in the Olympics, but for a different reason.
President of the IOC, Thomas Bach, recently stated that games which promote violence or discrimination are against the core Olympic values and cannot be included alongside the current schedule of events. Many have pointed out that some current Olympic sports such as boxing also involve violence and in fact the likelihood of actual physical harm to competitors. Further, the comments from the IOC do not appear to acknowledge that a number of esports titles do not promote violence. For instance, Rocket League does not contain any obvious violent elements and there are many esports titles which are simply digital recreations of sports that are already Olympic events.
You can read more here.
Universal and ESL launch joint record label
Universal Music Group has recently partnered with ESL to create a new record label dedicated to esports. The label will focus on representing up-and-coming musicians, who will then be promoted and featured on the various broadcast channels and events run by ESL.
In a previous newsletter we discussed how streaming platforms like Twitch present a new platform for promising musicians to reach a large demographic that they may not otherwise have had exposure to. As live music is also a prominent feature at esports tournaments generally, this new partnership seems a natural fit that will benefit musicians and tournament organisers, as well as allowing esports fans to experience new music, some of which will have been created with them in mind.
Given the popularity and accessibility of streaming, there are clearly opportunities for collaborations with other entertainment industries. It will be interesting to see if any more partnerships between esports and music organisations will be discussed in the future.
You can read more here.
Mental health issues a key concern for esports players
One of the most important features of an esports player’s profile is their mental state. Much is made of a player’s mental fortitude and, whether they win or lose, analysis of a performance often focuses on whether the player was in the right frame of mind. In addition to their technical skills, players are celebrated for their toughness. Spectators like to believe that their esports heroes are mentally unbreakable.
Being an esports player brings with it a host of mental health risks. It is a tough industry, in which players feel the pressure of competing on a large scale while thousands watch every move they make. They receive instant and sometimes crushing online feedback, including toxic messages and even death threats. Where a player has been quickly propelled to fame, often at a young age with no time for adjustment, these issues can be incredibly difficult to handle. Unlike traditional sports, where physical ability dictates the length of a player’s career, esports players’ careers are often ended due to mental health issues.
Thankfully, these issues are now being talked about publicly. Team owners are investing more in supporting their players’ mental wellbeing, including by allowing them to take time off to recharge, and by engaging mental health professionals who are equipped to deal with depression and other disorders. As the world of esports matures, teams should be mindful of the mental health problems that can arise and how to tackle them in a meaningful way, for the health of their players and the esports scene as a whole.
You can read more here.
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