Video Games and the Law

Blog, Law and Entertainment

There’s a lot of extra time to play video games. I think I have spent the past couple of days playing Super Smash Bros. . . in fact I am playing some right now. . .

Before quarantine I wasn’t familiar with Fornite, NBA 2k or any other video game. However, it might be the end of live sports games for a while so I figured I’d grab my own personal controller and see what things are all about.

At the intersection of law and this new found love entertainment comes an exciting case out of North Carolina.

U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle of the Eastern Division of North Carolina held Michael Heidbreder must proceed his case by arbitration pursuant to the End User License Agreement (“EULA”) with Fornite developer, Epic Games.

Michael Heidbreder, a Missouri resident filed a punitive class action alleging Epic Games’ vulnerable security allowed hackers to charge fraudulent in-game purchases to his debit card between November 2018 and January 2019. Heidbreder brought both statutory and common law claims including negligence, breach of implied contract and violation of state consumer-protection and data-breach statutes.

In October, Epic Games moved to compel Heidbreder’s claims to arbitration, pursuant to the EULA. Features to the arbitration provision include: “ (1) an agreement to arbitrate on an individual basis only; (2) delegation clause granting the arbitrator the power to determine whether a specific dispute is governed by the arbitration clause; (3) a venue selection clause giving user the choice of venue between their home state or North Caroline; (4) Epic Games’ agreement to pay arbitration fees under $10,000, share costs after $10,00 and not seek attorney fee’s against users and (5) a 30 -day opt-out provision, giving users a 30 day window after agreeing to the End User License Agreement to opt out of arbitration provision.”

Heidbreder presented three compelling, yet unsuccessful arguments.

First, he asserts his minor son lacked contractual capacity to agree to the EULA. Judge Boyle rejected this argument noting “under the basic principles of principal-agent law” his son acted as Heidbreder’s agent giving him both actual and apparent authority to agree.

Second, Heidbreder argues privacy related matters are outside the scope of arbitration. According to common law, when the parties contract delegates the arbitrability question too an arbitrator, a court may not override the contract.” Henry Schein, Inc. v. Archer & White Sales, Inc., 139 S. Ct. 524, 529 (2019). Therefore, the arbitrator, rather than the court, determines the scope of these provisions.

Lastly, Heidbreder claims the class action waiver, arbitration clause and class action clause are unconscionable because Epic Games is applying the agreement retroactively. Judge Boyle acknowledges yet quibbles Heidbreder’s last argument noting the terms at issue “are common terms in modern contracts that have been recently sanctioned by the courts and can hardly be considered substantively unconscionable.”

This case appears to be successful for Epic Games. However, this “game” could face a turn for the worse if parents stop allowing their children to make in-game purchases using their credit card information. However, with extending stay-at-home orders and uncertainty about school returning in the fall, I highly doubt this would happen.

What’s your favorite video game during COVID-19?

Until next time,

Lauryn <3

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Blog, Law and Entertainment

The Social Media Black Market

The law has the vitality of an organism. Although it may seem like the law is developed through various social movements and stuffy political leaders, laws originate from purpose. Our social purpose. Without us spreading ideas we value most, there would be no change. Social change has many components. It involves me and you. Together, we work together to challenge the social and political dimensions– creating a direct impact on society. We may not feel it every day, but we have the power to make it happen. Today, you and I will address the issue of privacy and our social media identity. Let’s make change together.


We can all use more likes on our pictures, views on our Instagram story or just more attention in general.  But has it come to a point where we pay for it? Apparently so.

Money can’t buy you happiness but it can buy you…followers. As we will see, popularity and privacy have its price.

I know you saw the word privacy and probably thought of Facebook  or Cambridge Analytica.

Yes, your preliminary ideas of privacy may be correct. Unfortunately, there are more social media bullies out there. A lot more.

Who can blame them? In a world where we value Likes more than a spoken compliment, why wouldn’t someone develop a company to exploit our horrible priorities.

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Sounds like great business idea….   

Imagine the moderate-to-frequent social media user. Although he or she may like the occasional picture of their favorite actor or travel page, they use social media for its fundamental purpose. To connect. Liking pictures of their best friend, partner, crush or even their ex. Hey, I’m not trying to get all up in your business about what you do on social media but Devumi does.

Devumi, a social media marketing company, advertise their unique services: selling followers, likes, and views to celebrities, Instagram influencers, your co-workers, best friend, grandmother, basically anyone that wants to look like they have friends online.

It’s social media fraud people. The worst part, according to The NY Times, Devumi often creates a duplicate profile of real users. This includes but is not limited to using the same name, hometown and other personal details of a REAL person. These automated accounts known as “Bots,” promote just about anything. From the new cafe in town, to pornographic sites, there are no limits.

YOU MAY HAVE A DUPLICATE ACCOUNT AND YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW IT.

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Sorry, don’t mean to scare you. But hey that’s life.

To make matters scarier, Twitter does not require its accounts to be operated by a real person. Therefore, companies like Devumi can set up these automated accounts (called “Bots”) with little to no effort and make millions.

So why did I write this article. To scare you of course. But in all seriousness, there are a bigger issue here. This appears to be mass identity theft. But, regulation of social media lies in the grey area when it comes to the law. There have been many developments in protecting the collection and sharing of our personal information through The Global Data Protection Regulation enacted in May of 2018. But continued social media fraud can be dangerous. In today’s age, it is inevitable that our social media posts, followings and pictures are a reflection of our values often evaluated by our friends, co-workers and employers.

So what’s the solution? Let’s take a sociological perspective on the current issue: Athletes, TED Speakers, actors, executives, businesses, and Instagram models now have a common denominator. They are apart of Devumi’s enormous customer base of 200,000 people.

To get to the root of the issue, we have to be real with each other. What are we accomplishing with all these followers? Have we become so obsessed that we are willing to pay someone to develop a robot to like our pictures just so we can brag to Tina at Starbucks?!

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Newsflash Tina doesn’t care.

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Don’t get me wrong, we can develop a space where we all care about each other’s well-being. For example, I really love fashion, healthy eating and travel (I’m basic). So I choose to follow accounts that post these things as well.

There is nothing wrong with creating a social media platform to show the world who you are and what you love. In fact, I applaud you for your self expression. But, it is critical to examine when our motives reach a bifurcation point. When do our inspiration transform from passion into fame, popularity or constant approval from others? Exploitation of our misplaced values is where companies like Devumi thrive.

What can we do today?

Changes in the law are an indicator of the complexities of social change. For now, we should use the law as a catalyst, to propagate social change where there are blatant inequalities in our privacy and protection of our identities. For now, let’s be curious about our personal and digital privacy. It’s definately worth it.


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