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Queen Mary Intellectual Property Research Institute

QMIPRI Spotlight Series: Dr Gaetano Dimita

In the second part of our series showcasing the research of members of Queen Mary’s Intellectual Property Research Institute (QMIPRI) we focus on Dr Gaetano Dimita, Senior Lecturer in Intellectual Property Law.

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Dr Dimita is an Interactive Entertainment and Intellectual Property Law scholar and Video Games enthusiast. He is also the Director of eLearning (CCLS), the Deputy Director of Education (CCLS), the former Deputy Director of QMIPRI and the former Director of Queen Mary’s LLM in Intellectual Property Law. In addition to this, Dr Dimita is also the editor-in-chief of the Interactive Entertainment Law Review (IELR), and the organiser of the ‘More Than Just a Game’ (MTJG) conference series.

Outside of his work with Queen Mary Dr Dimita serves on a number of international committees and is an Executive Committee member of the British Literary and Artistic Copyright Association and a member of the advisory Board of the National Video Game Museum. Dr Dimita is also a member of Italian Bar Association (Rome), the Video Game Bar Association, the Fair Play Alliance, and the Higher Education Video Game Association.

What do you consider the most significant aspects of your work to be?

“There are many different strands to my work, but I would say that one of the significant parts of my work is on (MTJG) and IELR. MTJG has now become one of the largest series of events in interactive entertainment law and we have organised 14 conferences over the last five years. IELR is the only academic peer-reviewed journal in the field. I would also say that for me it is significant to have been able to work in and to help shaping anew area of commercial law.”

“My research focusses mainly on Video Games and Intellectual Property Law, their impact on society and the legal issues with video game preservation. Interactive entertainment law is a growing area and there is an increasing understanding that the way we protect and regulate games impacts and has wider implications for society.”

“Half of the world’s population plays video games, they have become omnipresent and a crucial expression of human culture and creativity. For the people younger than me, the first social interaction outside of family and school circles is probably on a video game, as well as the first contract signed, the first money spent (or even earned). Video Games have become supranational parallel universes where a substantial part of our social interactions and economic transactions take place. They are the place where social norms and consensus are increasingly formed.”

“Games are a controlled (by the publisher) environment and their observation can help us understand how we interact with each other, how society has evolved and how we see ourselves. In a thousand years historians will know more about our society by looking at the video games we played. Preserving information related to this area is therefore very important.”

What is your proudest achievement when it comes to your research?

“I am grateful for the opportunity to research and teach on interactive entertainment law, which I am passionate about. I am proud that through my work with MTJG I was responsible for the first ever peer reviewed journal in the field and that I am now co-authoring with Professor Greenspan, the second edition of ‘Mastering the Game’ the World Intellectual Property Organisation guide to video games.”

“I am also proud to be at the forefront of an emerging research area. People often do not realise that video games are bigger than film and music combined, and do not understand to what extent new technologies and societal changes are driven or made accessible by video games. It is heartening to see recognition in this area and understanding of its increasing importance. I am pleased to be working in this area and excited about where it will take us next.”

Is there anything surprising to come out of your research?

“The most surprising thing for me was how little people know about ownership of digital products and virtual property in general. We ‘acquire’/download content but we don’t actually own them. Not only there is no digital exhaustion, but we also sign user agreements clearly stating we do not own what we bought. Most people do not realise this and there are real implications beyond us losing our skins, dance moves or weapons and armours when our favourite games are discontinued. We do not own our books, music, films and games collection and we are totally dependent from platform and publishers who can limit and control the way we access and can dispose with the works we acquired digitally (i.e. transfers, inheritance and wills). Consumer protections laws can apply to some extent, but are very limited in this area, people are generally not aware of this and the full consequences of platform dependency. I think this really needs to become part of our education. I am delighted to play a role in this.”