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Book Review: eSport und Recht, Prof. Dr. Dieter Frey (ed.)

“eSport und Recht,” edited by Prof. Dr. Dieter Frey, is a comprehensive exploration of the legal intricacies within the rapidly growing field of eSports. Spanning 388 pages and published by Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft in October 2020, the book is a pioneering resource, offering in-depth insights into the various legal challenges and considerations unique to the eSports industry. Authored by ten legal experts, it provides a multifaceted perspective on the subject, making it an essential read for legal practitioners, eSports professionals, and academics alike.



Esport und Recht


In the dynamic and rapidly evolving world of eSports, legal challenges and considerations are becoming increasingly complex and multifaceted. “eSport und Recht,” edited by Prof. Dr. Dieter Frey, emerges as a critical text in this new and uncharted territory. This book, with its comprehensive coverage and in-depth analysis, provides a much-needed legal framework for understanding the intricacies of eSports. It’s not just a collection of legal guidelines but a deep dive into the nuanced interplay between law and the digital arena of competitive gaming. The book’s relevance extends beyond legal professionals to touch the interests of game developers, players, team managers, and eSports enthusiasts, offering insights into the legalities that govern this burgeoning industry.

The structure of “eSport und Recht” is meticulously designed to cater to both specialists and novices in the field of eSports law. Each chapter, authored by experts in their respective legal domains, addresses a specific aspect of eSports law, ranging from intellectual property and contract law to issues of governance, player rights, and commercialization. This approach not only makes the book a comprehensive guide but also allows readers to delve into specific areas of interest with ease. The chapters are interlinked in a way that provides a cohesive understanding of the eSports legal landscape, making it an invaluable resource for those seeking to navigate the legal intricacies of this modern competitive arena.

Chapter-by-Chapter Analysis of “eSport und Recht”

Chapter 1: Foundations of eSports

Author: Veronika Frey

Content Review: The opening chapter sets the stage by tracing the historical evolution of eSports from its nascent stages to its current status as a global phenomenon. Veronika Frey meticulously outlines the development of gaming, the rise of competitive tournaments, and the emergence of professional eSports. She delves into the structure of the eSports ecosystem, identifying key stakeholders such as players, teams, game developers, and sponsors. The chapter also touches upon the economic impact and the burgeoning popularity of eSports across different regions.

Legal Perspective: From a legal standpoint, the chapter introduces the reader to the foundational aspects of eSports that are crucial for understanding the subsequent legal discussions. It highlights the unique challenges posed by the digital nature of eSports, such as intellectual property rights, player contracts, and regulatory oversight. The chapter effectively sets the tone for the legal exploration that follows, emphasizing the need for a nuanced understanding of the eSports landscape.

Critical Analysis: This chapter serves as an excellent introduction, providing a well-rounded overview of eSports. However, it could benefit from a deeper analysis of the legal implications of the industry’s growth, particularly in terms of international law and jurisdictional challenges. The discussion on the potential legal ramifications of the evolving power dynamics within eSports, especially concerning game publishers and regulatory bodies, is insightful but warrants further exploration.


Chapter 2: eSports as a Sport

Author: Dr. Hendrik Pusch

Content Review: Dr. Pusch’s chapter delves into the contentious debate surrounding the recognition of eSports as a sport. He examines various definitions of sport from different sporting bodies and how eSports aligns or diverges from these definitions. The chapter provides a comprehensive analysis of the implications of recognizing eSports as a sport, including access to funding, legitimacy, and the potential for more structured governance.

Legal Perspective: The legal analysis in this chapter is particularly noteworthy. Dr. Pusch explores the ramifications of sports recognition on issues like visa regulations for players, employment status, and contractual obligations. He also discusses the potential legal frameworks that could be applied to eSports if recognized as a traditional sport, offering a critical examination of existing sports laws and how they might be adapted to the unique context of eSports.

Critical Analysis: This chapter is a standout for its thorough exploration of a complex issue at the heart of eSports. The legal implications of sports recognition are dissected with clarity and depth. However, the chapter could further explore the potential for eSports to develop its own distinct legal and regulatory frameworks, independent of traditional sports models. The exploration of international perspectives on the matter and how they might influence global eSports governance would also add valuable depth to the discussion.

Chapter 3: eSports Competitions and Regulations

Authors: Veronika Frey, Anna B. Baumann, Prof. Dr. Dieter Frey, Dominic Dresen


Content Review: This chapter is a deep dive into the regulatory landscape of eSports competitions. She meticulously examines the rules and regulations set forth by major game publishers and tournament organizers, analyzing how these impact the competitive integrity, player conduct, and overall management of eSports events. The chapter also sheds light on the enforcement of these regulations and the role of internal arbitration and dispute resolution mechanisms.

Legal Perspective: From a legal viewpoint, this chapter is critical in highlighting the self-regulatory nature of eSports and the challenges it poses. Tha authors discuss the legal enforceability of these regulations, the rights and obligations of players and teams under these rules, and the potential for external legal intervention in disputes. The chapter also touches upon the need for more standardized regulatory practices and the role of emerging eSports associations in shaping these frameworks.

Critical Analysis: This chapter is invaluable for its detailed examination of the regulatory environment in eSports. The authors’ critique of the current self-regulatory model and its implications for stakeholders is insightful. However, the chapter could benefit from a broader discussion on the comparison with regulatory models in traditional sports and how these might be adapted or reimagined for eSports. Additionally, exploring the potential for legal challenges to these regulations in national and international courts would provide a more comprehensive understanding of the regulatory landscape.

Authors: Prof. Dr. Dieter Frey, Dr. Nadine van Baal, Dr. Matthias Rudolph, Dominic Dresen

Content Review: This chapter provides an exhaustive overview of the legal positions and relationships among the primary actors in the eSports ecosystem: game publishers, players, teams, organizers, and sponsors. It delves into the nature of contracts in eSports, including player contracts, sponsorship deals, and licensing agreements. The authors discuss the rights and obligations arising from these contracts, highlighting specific legal issues such as performance clauses, termination rights, and intellectual property rights.


Legal Perspective: The legal analysis in this chapter is comprehensive, covering a range of contractual and non-contractual relationships in eSports. The authors provide a detailed examination of the legal nuances in player contracts, including issues related to employment law, compensation, and player transfers. The discussion on the legal obligations of sponsors and game publishers, particularly in terms of liability and intellectual property, is particularly enlightening.

Critical Analysis: This chapter is a cornerstone of the book, offering an in-depth look at the contractual landscape of eSports. The detailed analysis of various types of contracts and the legal issues they entail is invaluable. However, the chapter could be enhanced by including more case studies or real-world examples to illustrate the practical application of these legal principles. Additionally, a discussion on emerging legal trends and potential future challenges in the contractual relationships within eSports would add further depth.

Chapter 5: Professional eSports Athletes and Organizations

Authors: Anna B. Baumann/Michael Pasternak

Content Review: Focusing on professional eSports athletes and their organizations, this chapter covers a wide range of legal issues, from the formation and management of eSports teams to the rights and responsibilities of professional players. It discusses the legal status of players, including questions around employment, independent contracting, and the implications for social security and benefits. The chapter also examines the dynamics of player transfers, contract negotiations, and dispute resolution.

Legal Perspective: The legal insights provided in this chapter are crucial for understanding the professional side of eSports. The authors offer a detailed analysis of the employment status of players, a topic of growing importance given the increasing professionalization of eSports. The discussion on the legal aspects of player transfers, including contract buyouts and the role of agents, is particularly noteworthy.


Critical Analysis: This chapter is a comprehensive guide to the professional aspects of eSports from a legal perspective. The detailed examination of employment law as it applies to players is both timely and necessary. However, the chapter could benefit from a more global perspective, considering the international nature of eSports and the varying legal frameworks across different jurisdictions. Additionally, exploring the role of player unions and their potential impact on the legal landscape would provide a more holistic view of the professionalization of eSports.

Authors: Prof. Dr. Dieter Frey, Dr. Nadine van Baal, Veronika Frey

Content Review: Chapter 6 delves into the multifaceted legal aspects of organizing eSports competitions, with contributions from various experts in the field. This comprehensive chapter covers a range of topics, including the relationships between event organizers and game publishers, eSports organizations, athletes, and spectators. Each section, authored by different legal experts, provides detailed insights into the contractual agreements, intellectual property issues, and regulatory frameworks that are pivotal in the planning and execution of eSports events. The chapter effectively maps out the intricate web of legal relationships and obligations that define the eSports event landscape.

Legal Perspective: The legal analysis presented in this chapter is both thorough and nuanced, reflecting the diverse expertise of its authors. The sections on the legal dynamics between organizers and publishers, and between organizers and athletes, are particularly enlightening, offering a deep dive into contract law, licensing, and intellectual property rights within the eSports context. The chapter also addresses the legal considerations in managing spectator engagement and compliance with various regulatory standards. This multifaceted legal perspective is crucial for stakeholders in the eSports industry, providing a solid foundation for understanding and navigating the complex legal environment of eSports events.

Critical Analysis: While the chapter offers an extensive review of the legalities involved in eSports event organization, it could further benefit from a more pronounced focus on emerging legal challenges and future trends. Topics such as digital rights, data privacy, and the impact of international legal variations on global eSports events are touched upon but warrant deeper exploration. Additionally, the chapter could explore the potential implications of evolving legal standards in digital media and international law on the structure and governance of eSports competitions. A forward-looking analysis, considering the rapid technological advancements and shifting legal landscapes, would enhance the chapter’s utility and relevance in anticipating future legal challenges in the eSports industry.


Chapter 7: Commercial Exploitation and Regulation

Author: Prof. Dr. Dieter Frey, Olaf Radtke, Dr. Matthias Rudolph

Content Review: Chapter 7 addresses the commercial aspects of eSports, including broadcasting rights, sponsorship, advertising, and merchandising. The authors explore the legal frameworks governing these areas, discussing issues such as contract negotiation, intellectual property rights, and regulatory compliance. The chapter also touches on the legal challenges associated with marketing to a young audience and the intersection of eSports with gambling laws.

Legal Perspective: The legal analysis in this chapter is particularly relevant given the commercial growth of eSports. The authors provide a thorough examination of the legal issues surrounding the commercial exploitation of eSports, including the allocation and enforcement of broadcasting and media rights. The discussion on the implications of youth protection laws and gambling regulations in the context of eSports is both timely and pertinent.

Critical Analysis: This chapter is a key contribution to understanding the commercialization of eSports and its legal implications. The authors’ analysis of broadcasting rights and the challenges posed by digital media platforms is insightful. However, the chapter could be further enriched by including more case studies on legal disputes in the commercial exploitation of eSports. Additionally, a forward-looking perspective on how emerging technologies like streaming and virtual reality might impact the legal frameworks of commercial exploitation in eSports would be valuable.

Chapter 8: Taxation in eSports

Author: Dr. Jörg Alvermann


Content Review: Alvermann’s chapter provides a crucial overview of the taxation landscape as it applies to eSports. He discusses the tax obligations of players, teams, and organizers, particularly focusing on income tax, corporate tax, and VAT issues. The chapter also examines the tax implications of prize money, sponsorships, and international competitions, offering guidance on compliance and planning.

Legal Perspective: The legal analysis in this chapter demystifies the complex world of taxation in eSports. Alvermann offers a clear and practical guide to the tax responsibilities of various stakeholders in the eSports industry, highlighting the challenges posed by the international nature of the industry and the digital economy. The discussion on cross-border tax issues and the application of tax treaties is particularly valuable.

Critical Analysis: This chapter is an essential read for anyone dealing with the financial aspects of eSports. Alvermann’s practical approach, coupled with clear examples, makes complex tax issues more accessible. However, the chapter could benefit from a broader discussion on the evolving nature of tax laws in response to the digital economy and how this might impact the eSports industry in the future. Additionally, exploring the role of tax planning and compliance in the strategic development of eSports organizations would add further depth to the analysis.

General Impressions

“eSport und Recht” stands out as a seminal work in the legal examination of eSports. Its comprehensive coverage of various legal challenges and considerations specific to eSports is unparalleled. Each chapter, dedicated to a different legal aspect, is crafted with meticulous detail, offering readers a deep dive into the complexities of the field. The book’s practical approach, focusing on real-world applications and scenarios, makes it an invaluable resource for understanding the legal framework surrounding eSports. This practicality is crucial, given the industry’s rapid growth and the evolving nature of its legal needs. The book’s ability to break down complex legal jargon into understandable language makes it accessible not only to legal professionals but also to eSports stakeholders who need to grasp the legalities affecting their operations and interests.

The depth and breadth of topics covered in “eSport und Recht” are impressive. From intellectual property rights and contract law to the nuances of player representation and team management, the book leaves no stone unturned. It provides a panoramic view of the legal landscape, encompassing both well-established legal principles and emerging issues specific to the digital and global nature of eSports. The inclusion of case studies and real-world examples adds a layer of practicality, helping readers to see the application of legal principles in actual eSports scenarios. This approach not only enriches the reader’s understanding but also highlights the dynamic interplay between law and the rapidly evolving eSports industry.


However, the book’s strength in practical application and detailed coverage of current legal issues in eSports also reveals its limitations. The legal landscape of eSports is not static; it’s an area ripe with innovation and continuous evolution. The book, while comprehensive in its current form, might need regular updates to keep pace with the fast-changing nature of the industry. The legal implications of new technologies, evolving business models, and international regulatory developments are areas where the book could expand its focus in future editions. Keeping up with these changes is crucial for the book to remain an authoritative resource in the field.


While “eSport und Recht” excels in providing practical insights and detailed analysis of eSports law, it falls short in some areas, particularly in offering a more theoretical and global perspective. The book’s focus on practical, real-world applications is commendable, but a deeper theoretical exploration would provide a more robust understanding of the legal principles at play. For instance, the chapters could benefit from a more extensive discussion on the philosophical and ethical underpinnings of the laws governing eSports. Such an exploration would not only enrich the current legal discourse but also help in anticipating and shaping future legal developments in this area.

Moreover, the book’s predominantly Euro-centric viewpoint limits its applicability in a global context. eSports is a worldwide phenomenon, and legal issues in this arena often cross international borders. A more inclusive approach, considering legal frameworks and case studies from different jurisdictions, would enhance the book’s relevance and utility for a global audience. This expansion is particularly crucial in areas like intellectual property rights, where international treaties and agreements play a significant role, and in the regulation of international player transfers and contracts.

Additionally, the book could delve deeper into emerging technologies and their impact on eSports law. Topics such as digital rights management, blockchain technology in gaming, and the legal implications of virtual and augmented reality in eSports are rapidly gaining significance. A forward-looking analysis of these areas would not only keep the book at the forefront of legal scholarship but also provide practical guidance for stakeholders navigating these new developments. The legal landscape of eSports, influenced by technological advancements and changing consumer behaviors, demands a proactive and anticipatory approach, which future editions of this book could aim to fulfill.


Prof. Dr. Dieter Frey’s “eSport und Recht” is a landmark publication in the field of eSports law. Its comprehensive coverage, practical insights, and detailed analysis make it an indispensable resource for legal practitioners, industry stakeholders, and academics alike. The book’s focus on the real-world application of legal principles in the context of eSports is particularly commendable, filling a significant gap in legal literature. It serves not only as a guide but also as a benchmark for future scholarly work in this field.


The book’s utility extends beyond legal professionals, offering valuable insights to anyone involved in the eSports industry. From understanding the complexities of player contracts to navigating the intricacies of intellectual property rights in digital gaming, “eSport und Recht” provides a thorough grounding in the legal aspects of eSports. Its practical approach, combined with detailed legal analysis, makes it a crucial tool for decision-making and strategy in the eSports world.

In conclusion, “eSport und Recht” is more than just a legal text; it’s a comprehensive guide to understanding and navigating the legal complexities of a rapidly evolving industry. As eSports continues to grow and mature, the insights and analyses provided in this book will remain invaluable. It’s a testament to the foresight of its contributors and the editor, Prof. Dr. Dieter Frey, in recognizing and addressing the legal challenges of this modern competitive arena. The book is not only a reflection of the current state of eSports law but also a foundation for its future development.

Disclaimer: The review copy of this publication was provided by Nomos Verlag free of charge. We would like to clarify that this gesture has not influenced our review in any manner. Our opinions expressed in this review are unbiased and solely our own. We extend our gratitude to Nomos Verlag for affording us the opportunity to review the work of their authors and editors.

"eSport und Recht" by Prof. Dr. Dieter Frey (ed.)

7.5 out of 10
Book Review: eSport und Recht, Prof. Dr. Dieter Frey (ed.)

“eSport und Recht” is more than just a legal text; it’s a comprehensive guide to understanding and navigating the legal complexities of a rapidly evolving industry. As eSports continues to grow and mature, the insights and analyses provided in this book will remain invaluable. It’s a testament to the foresight of its contributors and the editor, Prof. Dr. Dieter Frey, in recognizing and addressing the legal challenges of this modern competitive arena. The book is not only a reflection of the current state of eSports law but also a foundation for its future development.

Legal Accuracy and Depth
9 out of 10
The book offers an in-depth and accurate portrayal of the legal aspects of eSports. Its detailed analysis and practical examples provide a deep understanding of the subject.
Relevance and Timeliness
8 out of 10
"eSport und Recht" is highly relevant to the current landscape of eSports law. However, the rapidly evolving nature of the field means that continuous updates are necessary to maintain its timeliness.
Accessibility and Readability
7 out of 10
The book is well-structured and written in an accessible language, making it suitable for both legal professionals and those new to eSports law. However, some sections might require prior legal knowledge for full comprehension.
Global Perspective and Theoretical Analysis
6 out of 10
While the book excels in practical analysis, it lacks a broader global perspective and deeper theoretical exploration. Expanding its scope to include more international viewpoints and theoretical frameworks would enhance its value.


Comprehensive Coverage

Practical Focus


Accessible Writing

Pioneering Work


Limited Theoretical Analysis

Need for More Global Perspectives

Lacking Depth in Certain Areas



  • Leonid Shmatenko

    Leonid Shmatenko is part of Eversheds Sutherlands’ data protection and technology law team. He has vast experience in regulatory and general issues in the areas of eSports and Blockchain. He advises eSports associations and clubs on all legal issues, advises and supports crypto startups in all matters from planning, preparation to execution of private and public token offerings (so-called Initial Coin Offerings or ICOs). Furthermore, Leonid Shmatenko specializes in international arbitration and has participated in several arbitration proceedings (SAC, ICC, DIS, UNCITRAL, ICSID, ad hoc) as a party representative and secretary of the tribunal. Leonid Shmatenko studied at the Heinrich Heine University in Düsseldorf and is currently pursuing a PhD in international law. After his successful first state examination (2011), he completed his legal clerkship, inter alia, at the German Embassy in Lima and within international law firms in Düsseldorf and Paris. He passed the second state examination in 2015. He is an external lecturer at the National Law University of Ukraine “Yaroslav Mudryi”, where he teaches International Investment Law. He is admitted to the Bar in Switzerland and Germany. Before joining Eversheds Sutherland, Leonid Shmatenko worked as an attorney at leading law firms in Geneva, Munich and Paris.