A few months back, my client and I were negotiating a license agreement with a well-known entertainment brand. The agreement was designed to give my client the right to create an interactive VR experience based on that brand. In some ways, the license was no different than a typical entertainment license agreement. However, in some ways, it’s a completely different animal.
The challenge: How to define the rights we need so we get the freedom to create throughout the Mediated Reality ecosystem, while not freaking out the Licensor by asking for language that might grant us rights to TV, film, traditional video games, etc. (which we were not requesting, and they are obviously retaining).
It’s challenging for a few reasons. First of all, the tech keeps changing. The definition below is probably already due for some tweaking, and, if it isn’t yet, it will be soon. Second (and this has been true in digital technology for a while), you have to take a shot at defining the experience while also defining the platform on which it will be viewed and the distribution channels on which it will be delivered. And, the lines between these separate concepts can get pretty blurry. Is Samsung Gear the platform or the channel? Or both? And, because mobile VR has different specs than higher interactivity platforms, isn’t it also an integral part of the experience itself?
So, first, we defined Mediated Reality as AR/MR/VR, and then we set about the task of defining the channels and platforms.
Here’s what I drafted, which was accepted by the Licensor, and signed.
The “Channels of Distribution” shall mean the following:
- Digital distribution systems, such as the iTunes Store or other iOS outlets, Google Play or other Android outlets, Steam, Microsoft Xbox Live or other Windows outlets, Sony PlayStation Store, and any other platforms on which Mediated Reality experiences can be purchased, licensed, streamed or otherwise experienced;
- Higher interactivity VR platforms, currently non-mobile, whether now in release or to be released during the Term, such as Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Sony PlayStation VR and other similarly equipped display units;
- Lower interactivity VR platforms, currently mobile, such as Samsung Gear, Google Daydream, Google Cardboard, all other similar clones relying on the insertion of a smart phone or similar display into the device;
- Mixed Reality/Augmented Reality platforms, whether now in release or to be released during the Term, such as the Microsoft HoloLens and devices created by Magic Leap, ODG, and Meta;
- Other VR capable platforms, including, without limitation, Nintendo Switch, smart phones, and tablets;
- Location-based Mediated Reality experiences; and
- Any other distribution channel or platform similarly capable of supporting or distributing VR, AR, or MR content now known or hereafter devised.
And, now, we are seeing the advent of Mixed Reality devices that also rely on inserting your mobile phone into a minimal rig, projecting images onto a transparent screen. That wasn’t on my radar when I did this draft. We can now look at the definition and see if I covered that possibility. I’d argue that section 4 covers that innovation. And, also, the catch-all of section 7, which, ideally, covers anything I hadn’t thought of, or hasn’t been invented/publicized yet.
Feedback? What did I miss? How do you see this definition changing going forward?