onGamers has confirmed with the team representatives that LCS players are disallowed from streaming the games listed below outright, not just when adjacent to a League of Legends stream. Under Section 3 Rule 4 of the new contract handling ‘Non-League Events and Streaming’, it states that “… the [LCS] Team shall ensure that, during the Term of this Agreement, its Team Members do not publicly stream gameplay of the titles set forth on Exhibit B”. Exhibit B states “the specific restrictions on streaming are set forth in the Sponsorship and Streaming Restricted List, as updated by the League from time to time”, which is the document listed below.
Time for e-sports players to unionize and get a god damned high priced employment lawyer in their payroll.
I honestly do not get why this is a problem, let alone a problem worth a “Fuck this” and hiring a high priced employment lawyer about.
Here’s my understanding of the relevant portions of the contract: Players are contracted to play in League of Legends games which are then streamed (live or otherwise) to spectators by a company named Riot. The players involved are contractually forbidden, in all circumstances, from personally streaming themselves playing a competing game.
This does not strike me as an arbitrary restriction. Players are paid to be spokespeople for a given network. Streaming another game is a competing product to that network. It is entirely reasonable for me to think Riot would like its players to not compete with its own product. It would be like Disney Channel forbidding one of its actresses to perform or host a show to be televised on Nickelodeon.
Or let’s take an analogy that’s more personal. Suppose WoWInsider approached me and asked me to come write for their site. As part of the contract I would sign, they would forbid me from writing for any other site, including “I Like Pancakes” or any other personal blog.
This strikes me as a legitimate desire for WoWInsider. It’s not as though they are asking me to use a particular brand of shampoo or refrain from eating pizza or other arbitrary restraint. They want my full focus and my full attention.
Just because it’s reasonable, however, doesn’t mean I have to agree to it. If WoWInsider were to pay me what I understand WoWInsider to pay its writers (that is, pocket change), then there would be no way I would agree to that restriction. I value my ability to write posts here and elsewhere too much to sell that for chump change.
I want to make that clear: WoWInsider is trying to buy my exclusivity. I don’t have to sell it if I don’t want to. In fact, I would not. What I do appreciate, however, is my right to sell such things. If WoWInsider were to pay me a million dollars a year (to name an arbitrarily and unrealistically high figure) to write for them exclusively, I’d shut down this blog in a heartbeat. But far more likely is that WoWInsider is not willing to pay the amount (or anything at all, really) that I would be willing to sell my exclusivity for.
That’s something I think has to be said about these contracts. There’s no indication that there was any trickery involved in the contracts. These players signed the contracts knowing that some portion (perhaps most of it) was derived from the value Riot ascribed to having exclusivity.
Now, to be fair, I don’t really understand the arrangement. From my perspective, I have absolutely no interest in ever streaming myself playing a game, so chances are that anyone willing to pay me anything to get me agree to not stream is going to find a quick handshake of acceptance. I appreciate some people might differ on this, and value that behavior more highly than I would.
But do we expect that these players can’t figure that out for themselves? That they can’t decide for themselves that the money Riot is offering is or is not worth granting that exclusivity? It seems remarkably paternalistic to think of this as anything more than a contract bargained between two equally capable entities. It does not strike me that an individual player is incapable of figuring out if the value of her exclusivity is worth whatever Riot is offering.
In fact, I think it’s quite likely that the exclusivity portion of the contract provides a significant if not the majority of the value of the arrangement. It would not surprise me if Riot were to claim that they had no interest in employing anyone without the exclusivity clauses.
This is not to say that all exclusivity clauses should be permitted. One of the more contentious ideas I’ve known is whether a company can bar its employees from smoking, including when they are not on a job. That’s an interesting argument, but it’s not this argument.
Players are getting money to play games, and as a condition for getting that money they have to refrain from competing activities. Why shouldn’t players be able to sell their exclusivity? Why is it bad to do so?