July 27th, 2020
David Chidekel was recently quoted in Claudia Rosenbaum’s Billboard article “From Music Star To Avatar: Tech-Savvy Lawyers Share Tips For Negotiating Artist Appearances In Video Games.” The piece discusses the crossover between the music and gaming industries, focusing on how artists can manage their reputation and appearance within games. Chidekel offers his thoughts about artists appearing in virtual spaces. Excerpts from the article can be found below.
“The move to virtual concert spaces, with their unlimited means of expression and creativity, ‘makes total sense,’ says New York-based attorney David Chidekel, a partner at Early Sullivan Wright Gizer & McRae. ‘Music artists who either love gaming or are loved by gamers will certainly want to leverage that to distribute their content and activate fan engagement,’ adds the attorney who has represented video game publishers, AR/VR technology companies and celebrities who endorse and participate in gaming. ‘It is instantaneous and has a massive existing global audience desperate for new and exciting musical content as part of their overall gaming experience’.”
Chidekel goes on to speak about the importance of managing the environment that an artist’s in-game avatar appears in.
“Early Sullivan’s Chidekel says that displays of products or even political innuendo expressed in levels of the game where an artist’s avatar appears might give players the impression that they’re sanctioned by the artist. He adds that a strong contract will specify what the avatar can be used to promote and will also include an exhaustive list of prohibited uses. Typically, he proposes provisions that specify that endorsements for outside products or services require prior written approval. ‘If you’re the talent, you want it to be as narrow and limited as possible,’ says Chidekel. ‘Whatever’s important to the particular artist — even if it’s that they don’t want their avatar to jump around and look goofy — you want to have as much control as possible over how it’s used in the game, how it’s displayed and what products it appears to promote’.”
Finally, Chidekel discusses how artists should handle liability with regards to their in-game appearances.
“Just as performers demand immunity from liability at live venues, they must do the same in virtual realms, says Chidekel. ‘If somebody claims that they were using the video game and lost their eyesight, or that it gave them a mental illness, you don’t want to have anything to do with that,’ says Chidekel.”
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