Video games are changing. Developers are taking more initiative in getting their games out there, and publishers are increasingly using downloadable content as a business model. That means one thing: More lawyers.

For example, during the development of family-friendly MMO Free Realms, Sony brought in law firm Latham & Watkins. According to the firm's Roxanne Christ, "The shift to micro-transactions as a revenue model for the game raised legal issues that needed to be addressed."

Micro-transactions has meant a new type of specialization for attorneys "who know the territory". It's not only micro-transactions, but also developers who are changing how lawyers are involved with the industry.

"Now that developers are doing things themselves, they have me working on rights clearance and other distribution-related issues," says Mark Skaist, an attorney who has been representing video game publishers and developers in transactional matters for 17 years. "Previously," Skaist continues, "the developers' legal needs mostly involved contracts with publishers."

Firms have been catching on and cashing in with the likes of Los Angeles-based firm Sheppard Mullin establishing a video game specialized branch to counsel companies like Activision on things like patent, labor, entertainment and tax matters.

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Wanted: Lawyers Who Know Their Way Around a Joystick [The AM Law Daily]