Mechanical Licenses for Video Games

American University Intellectual Property Brief

20 Pages Posted: 6 Jan 2023

Date Written: December 1, 2022


Mechanical licenses are a scheme used in the music industry to not only allow publishers and songwriters to be compensated for their work, but also to allow this important cultural product to be better distributed in society and not get lost in time. Video games have accrued great importance culturally, but are at an increasingly greater risk of vanishing, due to being locked into a certain hardware. Allowing fans and other creators to utilize mechanical licenses to remake their favorite video games would help preservation efforts and serve as a reliable income stream for its original publisher. This Article first explains how copyright is applied to video games that are both a computer program and an audiovisual work. Then, this Article tackles why mechanical licensing for music was created and how such license can be obtained. Lastly, this Article explains how mechanical licenses could be adapted to fit with the way a copyrighted video game works. If widely adopted, this would ensure some modern classics like Legend of Zelda do not get locked behind aggressive intellectual property (IP) strategies or get lost due to only being able to run on certain platforms.

Keywords: Video Games, Copyright, Mechanical Licenses

Suggested Citation

Ruthes Gonçalves, Lukas, Mechanical Licenses for Video Games (December 1, 2022). American University Intellectual Property Brief, Available at SSRN:

Lukas Ruthes Gonçalves (Contact Author)

UFPR ( email )

Praça Santos Andrade, 50
Curitiba, Paraná

American University ( email )

4300 Nebraska Ave NW
Washington, DC, DC 20016
United States

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