Blizzard Vs. Korea: Broadcasting Rights Battle for StarCraft II

We all know how  popular StarCraft is with pro-gamers over in South Korea. Everyone has heard of the stories.

What most don’t know is how insanely popular it is!

Korean newspaper, The Korea Times, reports that StarCraft developer Blizzard Entertainment and publisher Activision-Blizzard Incorporated have gone to court with MBC Game. This lawsuit was announced after MBC Game had continued broadcasting Starcraft matches, despite warnings from Activision-Blizzard Inc. lawyers. Legal action is also being readied against OnGameNet, which is another match broadcaster, and the Korean e-Sports Players Association (KeSPA), a firm that manages the burgeoning industry of e-Sports in Korea.

The main issue is the fact that Blizzard Entertainment had successfully negotiated with another company, GomTV (run by Gretech Corp., makers of the Gretech Online Media Player), to have exclusive broadcasting rights to StarCraft matches. This news, of course, didn’t sit well with the various other companies already broadcasting matches, and they wondered if they were infringing copyright by resuming the broadcast. To further compound the problem, the KeSPA originally had rights, from Blizzard, to let other companies broadcast the matches.

Blizzard maintains that the KeSPA did not respect their intellectual property rights, and failed to pay in royalties for the broadcasts. The KeSPA, on the other hand, said that Blizzard is asking too much for its royalties. This led to an eventual split between the two on May 2010. The situation got worse at Blizzard’s annual fan convention, BlizzCon, where the company’s chief operating officer Paul Sams announced Korean journalists that lawsuits were being handed out the the various companies infringing broadcasting rights.

This is not the first time South Koreans have experienced video game controversy. Recently, in April 2010, eleven players were accused of match fixing for several matches during the 2009 e-Sports season. Those eleven players were banned by the KeSPA. Furthermore, those current and former players, pro-gaming teams and staff members, programmers, twelve owners of illegal gambling websites were to be charged in criminal courts by the KeSPA. The charges described alleged that “the players were bribed to leak information, or lose games, allowing owners of the illegal gambling site to obtain huge profits”. Of course, the pro-gaming community was stunned and outraged at the turn of events.

Of course this new development sheds some more light on how crazy the pro-gaming community is over in Korea, with matches being broadcast like most major league sports. Top players like Lim Yo-Hwan (AKA SlayerS_’Boxer’) boast of a fan club of over half a million people and an income average of $300,000 (US Dollars), plus endorsement contracts that bring in an additional $90,000 per year.

More information/details can be found in the original article: [StarCraft broadcasting dispute headed to court] via the Korea Times

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  1. [...] couple of weeks earlier, I had written an article about the versus match between Blizzard and various members of the Korean e-Sports Association [...]

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