As digital technology has developed, digital games have been widely entertained by their users. The landscape of digital games has been notably changed from arcade to console and computer desktop to interactive multiplayer games. This phenomenon has been triggered by high speed of Internet accessibility.
Digital games have special features different from other copyrighted works on basis of their technical structures. Hence, this Article will attempt to explore several legal issues arising out of digital games, reflecting their features.
This Article begins with originality requirement associated with digital games. In this context, I explore the originality of visual output created by the digital games and of the characters appearing on the digital games. In terms of the originality of visual output created by the digital games is concerned, this Article explain that the visual output might be uncopyrightable through the merger doctrine and/or the scènes à faire doctrine. As far as the originality of characters featured in a video game, the Korean Supreme Court in Konami v. Neople held that a character featured in a video game was copyrightable under the Korean Copyright Act, independent from the game itself. Afterwards, the Article turns to copyright-related issues in the emerging e-sports. In this regard, this Article recognizes the necessity for research on the issues such as functional and material constraints, the rules of the game and games as systems, and issues as to whether game output is authorship of a derivative work or joint authorship as well. Also, the Article delves into the possibility that the cable or TV broadcast of digital game on cable or TV outlets may constitute fair use. In addition, this Article deals with the technical copyright-protection measures. Also, this Article delves into international copyright dispute. In an international copyright dispute, the choice of the applicable law can indirectly affect the scope of copyright protection and fair use because the domestic copyright law of each country varies depending upon its legal and economic situation.
Finally, the Article summarizes and proposes several feasible legal solutions for the development of digital game industry.