- Minimum age requirements (this comes in handy when avoiding COPPA, which we discuss below)
- The terms of your software license. For instance, they can’t use your software commercially and can’t resell it (this is the EULA part)
- An “acceptable use policy,” laying out what is and is not acceptable conduct within the game
- Limitations on liability and warranties, so you can’t be held liable if your game doesn’t function properly, etc.
One vital part of a properly-drafted is a class action waiver and arbitration agreement. This does two things: it limits any disputes to one-on-one, and forces those disputes to be handled in arbitration, rather than in the courts. As the developer, these are extremely important. A class action lawsuit against you could be extremely costly. Additionally, the court system can take years to shake out just one case, so resolving that dispute through arbitration can save a ton of time and money.
Obviously, this isn’t an issue unless your game is successful, but it’s generally a good thing to plan ahead and be prepared for both success and failure.
How do you show that they’ve agreed?
- A button labeled “I agree” or something to that effect
You can even do things like forcing a scroll through the entire Terms before the checkbox and button become active, but that may be going a bit far and could turn off users.
Governments of the world take data privacy and people’s personal information very seriously, and so should you. When your game takes personal information from users (whether it’s their name, email address, location, or photograph), you need to disclose what you’re taking and how you’re using it.
The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act
This law, usually abbreviated to COPPA, deals with the collection and protection of personal information from users under 13 years of age. If you:
- Target and advertise to children under 13
- Have a product that could reasonably be targeting children under 13, even if you don’t do it explicitly (if you have cartoon characters, for instance), or
- Know that you have a number of users under 13
you will most likely have to comply with COPPA. You can read this document from the FTC to get an idea of what your responsibilities are. There are also third-party services, like AgeCheq, that assist developers and publishers with COPPA compliance.
The EU/US Privacy Shield
Another important aspect of privacy law for US developers is known as the EU/US Privacy Shield. This deals with personal information collected in the EU and transferred to the US. For US developers who are moving info from the EU to their domestic servers, Privacy Shield compliance is important.
There are several aspects to compliance, but the essentials are:
- Proper disclosure
- Ensuring third parties that you contract with are compliant
- Using an approved dispute resolution mechanism, and
For more info on the Privacy Shield requirements and to self-certify, check out the website here.
That’s it. Hopefully these five posts have given you a head start on getting your indie game business up and running, legally speaking. I will continue posting articles and podcasts discussing the finer points of indie game law and business issues on my blog. Additionally, sign up for the mailing list at Indie Game Startup to be the first to hear about my new business and legal course for indie developers (including the contracts you need to get started!).