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Blizzard: Korean e-sports TV "deprives devs of IP rights"

Considering further litigation to prevent StarCraft broadcasts

StarCraft-maker Blizzard is considering taking further legal action against Korean TV stations and e-sports bodies which screen multiplayer sessions of its games.

Speaking at a Seoul press conference on Thursday (as attended by the Korea Times), COO Paul Sams claimed that "It's unfortunate that the e-sports industry in Korea is lagging behind other industries in recognition of intellectual property rights and the basic principles related to them.

"Korea is the only region in the world where we have had to resort to litigation to protect our IP rights."

Last month, Blizzard sued MBC Game and OnGameNet for broadcasting StarCraft II tournaments without the developer's permission. Now the Warcraft firm in considering targeting the Korea e-Sports Players Association (KeSPA), which organises the broadcasts.

Blizzard and KeSPA were formerly partners in Korea for a number of years, but arrangements were severed in May due to KeSPA's unapproved selling on of broadcast rights.

As part of this, the two TV stations in question were ordered to cease StarCraft II broadcasts as of August, with exclusive rights passing to online video company Gretech-GomTV. MBC Game and OnGameNet continued to screen matches after that date, without paying the 100 million won ($86,000) annual syndication fee demanded by Gretch-GomTV.

Claimed Sams, "Back in 2007, KeSPA sold the broadcast rights for 1.7 billion won to cover three years, despite the fact that we never granted them the broadcast rights to sell, and they do not have the rights today.

"The yearly broadcasting fees were five times more than what GomTV is asking for today, so I think it's hypocritical for MBC Game and OGN to complain about the proposal." MBC Game have now agreed to pay GomTV.

Sams refuted arguments by a number of Korean TV bodies, including KeSPA, that e-sports broadcasts should be a free for all. "StarCraft is not a public domain offering, as Blizzard has invested significant money and resources to create the StarCraft game and the overall StarCraft universe.

"Classifying StarCraft and other e-sports as part of the public domain deprives developers such as Blizzard of their IP rights. There will be no incentive to do what Blizzard had done to balance the games for competition, which is a more difficult task than creating a normal game.''

Despite this, Blizzard has not made a final decision as to whether further legal action will be pursued.

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Alec Meer

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A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.

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