Tournament game copyright law


So I’m trying to help set up a tournament with a venue and I get the following question:

“We’d definitely be interested in working with you. Have you already acquired the necessary permissions for the games you listed?”

I mean, I know the answer is “no but I don’t have to” but I’m wondering if there’s a more definitive way to answer her. Apparently she is asking for a reason… Perhaps this is an issue with some game companies? Anyone know the technicalities on this?


Hmm, interesting question. Perhaps you could try asking Capcom.


Yes there is:
“No, but I don’t have to, you stupid twat”


If the venue is less than 2,000 square feet, I believe that you can claim that you are “leasing” copies for the game to players for the length of their matches. It’s not actually a valid argument, but it might get them off of your back.


Technically, they’re probably right in that you need permission from the game creators themselves in order to run a tournament for it (see, the Blizzard vs Kespa lawsuits going on right now in Korea, even though thats mostly about broadcasting rights). It’s just theres never been an instance where the companies have ever brought a lawsuit over somebody having a tournament.

Imagine if instead of a game, you were going to charge people to come and watch a dvd you played for them. You’d need permission from the people who made the movie; this is probably legally the same concept since you’re charging people money to play in the tournament. But I don’t think it’s ever been an issue with any tournament before, but somebody who is going to be hosting your tournament and facing possible legal ramifications for it will definitely be cautious


Someone needs to get UltraDavid in here.



Game publishers like Capcom who own the copyrights in their games have the exclusive right to public performances of their work. In other words, nobody but Capcom can show one of their games in public circumstances, including most publicly-attendable tournaments, unless Capcom explicitly gives them permission. I guess this tournament venue knows about this and wants to be sure that you do get permission so that you and they can’t be sued. In practice Capcom tends not to sue people who organize tournaments even when they don’t have explicit permission, but you never know, maybe tomorrow they’ll start suing.

If you don’t have permission, and I’m assuming you don’t, then you can’t tell this venue that you do. You can try to explain to them that in practice Capcom doesn’t sue people who infringe on the public performance right, but if they don’t want to proceed without full assurance that they won’t be sued, there’s not much you can do. And you can hardly blame them, really. If it doesn’t work out with this venue, you should probably just try another one.


Thanks UltraDavid, it’s much clearer now. While I assume that the majority of the small-scale tournaments in this country are run without permission, I expect that the larger-scale ones cover their bases and get permission. Is this correct? In your experience, does Capcom respond quickly to requests for permission? I plan to answer this venue honestly, but I’d like to give them a sense of how these things typically work with Capcom.

Found a few threads on Ask Capcom… the answers I found were along these lines… basically, “Why do you need our permssion?”. But these are just forum Mods, who are probably in no position to actually be the ones giving permission, I suppose.


Your best bet to get in touch with the right person would be s-kill on Capcom-Unity.


Additional info from Capcom VP Christian Svensson (as posted on Unity).


Hah, yeah, he responded to the post I’d made on ask Capcom.


lol sounds like ufgt7


Wait, do Arcade operators need permission from Capcom to host SSFIV:AE tournaments also?