During TwitchCon 2015, thousands of broadcasters, game developers, and fans flocked to San Francisco to celebrate the video game streaming community.

Twitch, which was launched in 2007, became the world’s most popular streaming platform for video game and electronic sports Internet streaming, in 2014. Other platforms such as YouTube, are also becoming more prevalent.

Not only do they provide a community for gamers, but these services also benefit from the growing popularity of video game streamers. Streamers can earn money by sharing advertisements, viewer donations, and engaging in other forms of monetization such as brand deals and sponsorships. This means that many video game streamers are effectively running a business out of their bedroom. While it’s exciting to make a living from gaming, streamers should take some time to prepare and take early precautions for their future business ventures in order to avoid getting lured into a potential legal dispute.

Pick the right tune
Under copyright law, music and video content are protected from unauthorized reproduction and use. The underlying music composition and sound recording are protected by copyright law, while owned by different entities.

Authors typically have their copyrights for their work for around 70 years. There are various types of licenses available for individuals and companies, such as applicable music publishers, performance rights organizations, and recording companies. These platforms enforce copyright protection for the copyright holder by monitoring the unauthorized use of copyrighted audio.

Twitch also signed a deal with Audible Magic stating that they agreed to mute the content from its users if it detected copyrighted music (including in-game music). Basically, Audible Magic’s software scan content from Twitch users and mutes the entire block if copyrighted music is detected.

This can be very frustrating for the broadcaster and the audience who may not understand why their music was cut or muted. To avoid this legal issue, streamers should refrain from playing copyrighted music on their streams and use licensed music or produce their own music. For instance, Twitch’s reaction to this legal issue was to introduce a royalty-free music library for streamers to use in order to respond to the public demand.

If a stream is playing copyrighted music, it should be noted that it may be flagged by game enforcement agencies. Also, it is good practice to scan the audio for copyrighted music before posting a VoD.

A Fair Use
Just as with music, broadcasting copyrighted video content within a broadcast has legal implications for broadcasters. Many streamers produce content based on playing video games. In these cases, the game developer owns the copyright, but they may be legally allowed to reproduce the content if they fall under the ‘fair use’ rule.

Basically, ‘fair use’ means that a person can broadcast his/her gameplay for various purposes such as criticism, commenting, news reporting, teaching, or scholarship. However, it depends on several factors, such as the type of copyrighted work, the reason and the character of the use, and the amount of content used in common with the copyrighted work. This also involves the effect of producing such work on the original copyrighted work. For instance, a broadcaster’s gameplay is probably to be protected by “fair use” if it is accompanied by the broadcaster’s running commentary.

Although streamers generally avoid being sued for copyright infringement, game developers and other holders of copyrighted content can now file takedown notices against them targeting copyrighted content. Online platforms are also starting to implement automated tools that can identify and block copyrighted content. YouTube’s Content ID technology scans streams and videos for copyright infringement. If a stream is flagged, Content ID may replace the streamer’s broadcast with a placeholder image.

Fair use rights are protected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Before sending a takedown notice, copyright holders should first consider fair use before sending a takedown notification to the broadcaster. In a recent decision, the federal appeals court ruled that YouTube users who pay lip service to the consideration of “Fair use” may be subject to a financial penalty.

Both Twitch and YouTube allow users to respond to takedown notices with a counter-notice that explains why the content was taken down and how it was protected under “fair use”. In addition, being well-versed in the law can help streamers protect their channels and businesses from being disrupted.

Consider incorporation
Creating a limited liability company (LLC) can provide many advantages for streamers. It can allow them to minimize their tax liability. In fact, viewers’ donations through streaming platforms such as Twitch are not gifts and must be reported each year as income. Also, LLCs allow them to claim deductions for expenses. It is also important to protect your assets in case of legal action and increase your credibility as a streamer. You should always seek help from an experienced attorney to avoid any pitfalls during the setup process. Here comes the role of Lexyom’s expert lawyers who will guide you through it all.

Pick a Name
Trademarks are words or symbols used to refer to a certain product or service offered by a company to make it distinct from others. Some companies, such as Apple, Nike, and McDonald’s, have their own recognizable brand logos, names, colors, etc.

Screen names are also valuable to streamers as they can help strengthen their brand and promote their activities. Before a name can be used for a website or a product, the streamers should first confirm that their chosen name does not violate an existing trademark through “trademark clearance”. This is especially important if a streamer plans on creating a website that uses the screen name as the domain name.

Before the trademark clearance process begins, an attorney will typically determine if the trademark exists, if the screen name is limited to scope or unenforceable, and if the negative connotations of the name apply to other cultures.

Avoid being reported

State law prohibits false and unprivileged statements about another person that can induce harm. A streamer is labeled guilty if he or she lies by:

  1. Stating that the other person committed or was punished for a crime.
  2. Stating that the other person has a contagious disease.
  3. Spreading statements and rumors that affects the other person’s business.
  4. Stating that the person is promiscuous.

If proven, streamers would be liable for the damages caused by their lies. This includes, but is not limited to, the loss of a job, the loss of a client, or the failure to attract advertisers. Hence, streamers should be careful when talking about other people on their stream or VoD.

Use celebrities’ endorsements and likenesses

Streamers must pay extra care and not broadcast content that is related to professional gamers or celebrities. Stating that another person supported your channel without their permission may violate their privacy rights. In California, every person has the right of publicity to their name, voice, signature, photograph, etc.

This means that everyone, including professional gamers, has a right to prevent others from misusing their identity to endorse products. For example, a person cannot use the name of a professional gamer to promote or advertise the products of the steamer without the gamer’s consent (or vice versa).

The Federal Trade Commission “FTC” can also punish streamers for failing to disclose information about an endorsement. Also, endorsements should reflect the honest opinions of the endorser. Endorsements are not deceptive and cannot be false.

Due to the nature of streaming media, it is very important that streamers refrain from making public statements about their endorsements or sponsorships related to the streamer’s channel, website, or other products.

Read all terms & agreements of use
Before signing a sponsorship or partnership agreement, streamers should thoroughly read the terms of the deal to ensure that they are not restricting their ability to say or conduct their business during broadcasts. These agreements can impose restrictions on what can and can’t be said during a live stream or a VoD. In addition, there are also conflicts of interest when it comes to multiple sponsorships or partnerships. In most cases, a streamer is obligated to promote two products in exchange for a certain amount of sponsorships.

Each platform has its own Terms of Service, which are typically different from one another. These terms typically include a license that allows the platform to use the content of the streamer for any reason, prohibitions against unauthorized conduct by the broadcaster, and a provision allowing for termination of the streamer’s account for repeated violations.


Lexyom will help you avoid legal disputes and will let you know more about new laws and regulationsreach out to us and we will explain to you all what you need to know about legal.

Legally Yours,