If you’ve ever seen clips of Halo avatars discussing how they are stuck in a canyon with the enemy camp,[1] or watched the South Park episode where the main characters play World of Warcraft,[2] then you’ve experienced a genre of film called “machinima.”  The term "machinima" (machine + cinema) generally refers to animated filmmaking within a real-time virtual 3-D environment.[3] To accomplish this, a "machinimator" (machinima + animator) pieces together video game footage to create an independent production that is distinct from the video game itself. Essentially, the machinimator is a digital puppet master who utilizes the environment, design, and characters of a video game to create a separate story. Machinimators normally record their productions in real-time using a capture card (hardware) or video capture program (software). Additionally, many video games now provide an in-game video capture ability, which allows users to easily record their own game footage. 

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Let’s start with the basics. When someone purchases a video game, an end-user license agreement (EULA)[2] details the rights the purchaser has to play and use the game. Additionally, users can often buy optional downloadable content such as map-packs, mini-expansions and the like. Users may also elect to purchase small add-ons to games (such as power-ups, new costumes, or equipment fully capable of being taken off sweet jumps) via microtransactions  For ease of reference, we’ll call both categories "DLC" (but we recognize some distinction may be drawn between the two). Purchasing DLC is typically handled in three ways: integrating the transaction into the video game itself, conducting the transaction externally via a game platform, such as video game platform, or through a third-party provider such as LiveGamer or Paypal. When the transaction relies on a third party, there may be a terms of sale (apart from the game developer’s EULA) that governs a user’s purchase of the DLC. Two distinct legal agreements from two separate companies relating to the same game content creates the potential for conflict. For example, the third party’s terms of sale governing the purchase of DLC may be silent on the topic of content ownership or may even conflict with the EULA.

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Video games and feature films have a lot in common. Both tell stories and have exciting visuals and music. Although one is "interactive", recent Blu-ray HD discs are now turning linear films into more immersive, interactive experiences. Rights and talent deals for both have likewise followed a path towards convergence with terms and consideration often being negotiated and drafted the same way. Nowhere is this trend more obvious than the increasing popularity of product placement in enhancing the economic value of video games by making the game play more realistic while providing increased marketing value and good will by allowing the game developer and product owner, generally at no out-of-pocket cost, to reach new audiences.

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