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Game Law: Man's Best Friend Sometimes Bites
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Game Law: Man's Best Friend Sometimes Bites


March 28, 2008 Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next
 

[Tom Buscaglia's latest 'Game Law' column sees him suggesting that "just like a kid and a dog, every game studio should have its pet lawyer to keep it safe and secure" - contributing key training tips for both canine and human sides.]

One of my clients sent me an engine license to review for him. He was considering a few options and asked me to review and revise the contract on one of the engines he was interested in. I took a look and, typical of most middleware licenses, the middleware developer was delivering the license with few, if any warranties.

Well, as much as I would prefer that my client get some decent level of comfort in the software he was considering licensing, I understood the issues and was pretty much OK with most of the language.

I did however have a concern that if the engine code inadvertently included some open source software, it might compromise the commercial viability of the game. So I added language into the license agreement that warranted that the engine did not contain any open source computer code that would limit or negatively impact the commercial viability of my client's game.

I didn't expect this additional language would be a problem since the inclusion of any open source of code would significantly impair the commercial viability of their product as well.

The engine developer told my client that they could not agree to the added language.

However, they assured my client that the engine code had already gone through a full open source audit and was clean. This raised the obvious question.

If the code was clean, why not agree to the language? When asked this question by my client, the engine developer's response was, "Our lawyer will not allow us to agree to this language."

So, my client did the only reasonable thing he could under the circumstances -- he decided to use a different engine. The engine developer lost the deal.

Assuming what the engine licensor was saying about the code audit was true, what the heck was he thinking? Obviously he was not thinking. He was just doing what his lawyer told him. I guess you could say that "the tail was wagging the dog!"


Article Start Page 1 of 3 Next

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