Copyright Ownership of User-Generated Content in Games

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An increasing number of games provide players with freedom to participate within the game world. Using Animal Crossing: New Horizons (2020), a world-famous game developed by Nintendo, as a case study, this article discusses the copyright ownership issues of player-created works in China. Although gaming companies hold intellectual property of gaming software, the copyright ownership of user-generated content still needs clarification. The article reviews the framework of copyright protection in China, followed by an analysis of courts’ interpretation of originality that is required for copyright protection. The user agreement between players and Tencent, the company representing Nintendo’s business in mainland China, is analysed to answer the question of the ownership of user-created works. This article finds that although players own the copyright of user-generated content, they are in a weak position to control the exploitation of rights due to the strict Tencent-represented Nintendo Switch Account User Agreement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-159
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Gaming & Virtual Worlds
Issue number2
Early online date1 Jun 2023
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2024


  • China
  • Nintendo
  • Tencent
  • UGC
  • creation
  • fan art
  • user agreement
  • user-generated works


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