Law Schedule of Classes

NOTE: Course offerings change. Classes offered this semester may not be offered in future semesters.

275.2 sec. 001 - Video Game Law (Fall 2021)

Instructor: Todd P Smithline  (view instructor's teaching evaluations - degree students only | profile)
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Units: 2
Grading Designation: Graded
Mode of Instruction: In-Person


Th 3:35 PM - 5:25 PM
Location: Law 130
From August 19, 2021
To November 23, 2021

Course Start: August 19, 2021
Course End: November 23, 2021
Class Number: 31789

Enrollment info:
Enrolled: 34
Waitlisted: 0
Enroll Limit: 35
As of: 01/25 05:06 PM

More than half of all Americans play video games -- whether through a browser, mobile device or game console -- and spending on interactive content now rivals that for TV and movies. Video games are great fun and big business, but what are the legal implications?

- How has copyright law evolved in an era when a hit iPhone game can spawn a lookalike competitor within months?

- Should trademark law prevent a developer from featuring real-world locations in their game?

- As games become stunningly realistic, when does a depiction of a college quarterback or rock star violate their right of publicity?

- Does limiting a minor's access to violent video games infringe their First Amendment rights?

We will answer these questions and more as we explore the legal issues surrounding how video games are developed, distributed and consumed. After learning the relevant law, we will assume the mantle of in-house counsel and conduct a mock developer-publisher negotiation and at least one other in-class exercise. Throughout the semester we will be joined by guests from the industry who will share their perspectives on how legal issues translate into actual practice. The class ends with a take-home final exam.

Todd Smithline is the managing principal of Smithline PC, a San Francisco law firm representing software/SaaS, Internet and digital entertainment companies in technology transactions, product legal and open source matters.

Attendance at the first class is mandatory for all currently enrolled and waitlisted students; any currently enrolled or waitlisted students who are not present on the first day of class (without prior permission of the instructor) will be dropped. The instructor will continue to take attendance throughout the add/drop period and anyone who moves off the waitlist into the class must continue to attend or have prior permission of the instructor in order not to be dropped.

Background in intellectual property law is helpful but not required.

Exam Notes: (TH) Take-home examination
Course Category: Intellectual Property and Technology Law

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