Recall the adversities faced by many in the entertainment industry. Freddie Mercury tried to join several bands before forming Queen. Judy Garland signed with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer at age thirteen after performing with her sisters throughout her childhood. Babe Ruth signed his first professional baseball contract with the minor-league Baltimore Orioles. Those same historic adversities faced by these giants of the entertainment industry are being repeated today in a closely related field—the Esports industry.
Esports, a form of competitive video gaming, attracts audiences that “rival some of the world’s great sporting events.” A thorough due diligence review of the industry-norm contract must be undertaken. Esports professionals continue to fall victim to handshake deals put to paper like so many entertainers before them. Esports organizations use heavy-handed contracts to severely limit professionals from exploring other options and strip them of most of their earnings.
Turner “Tfue” Tenney’s lawsuit against FaZe Clan brought to the forefront the lack of regulation in the Esports industry and the question of whether gamers should be entitled to similar protections as actors, artists, and athletes, and other entertainers. The Talent Agency Act (TAA) and the Miller-Ayala Athlete Agents Act (MAA) apply different standards to the representation of artists and athletes. By dismantling the pros from the cons of these two Acts, legislatures can craft new Esports-specific legislation to protect the creative minds of these professionals.
Specifically, the proposed legislation should further define “artist” and “other entertainment enterprises” from the TAA to account for the new characters in the entertainment industry, such as professional gamers and influencers. The legislation should also define “athlete” to help guide courts in determining if professional gamers are better labeled as an athlete, artist, or a combination of the two.
This is not the first time the entertainment industry has prioritized agents’ financial gains over artists’ and athletes’ freedom to contract and livelihoods, but hopefully courts, legislatures, and lawyers can use the past lessons of Freddie, Judy, Babe, and the countless others to better protect professional gamers.
Professional Gamers are Today’s Professional Athletes,
Ga. St. U. L. Rev.
Available at: https://readingroom.law.gsu.edu/gsulr/vol37/iss3/8