In recent weeks, I have received numerous inquiries regarding the imprint requirement for Twitch streamers and YouTubers. Therefore, I decided to write a comprehensive guide on the subject. This article should come as no surprise to experienced entrepreneurs, as it does not contain any complicated legal concepts. Nevertheless, it could be helpful for many streamers who have not yet dealt with this issue.
Do I need an imprint as a streamer?
The short and concise answer in most cases is: Yes!
But why is that? To answer this question, we need to take a closer look at the legal basis and related circumstances.
Anyone who operates a telemedium, as is the case with Twitch or YouTube, must adhere to the rules set out in the Telemedia Act (TMG), the Interstate Broadcasting Treaty (RStV) and other laws such as the Interstate Treaty on the Protection of Minors in the Media (JMStV).
The exception to the rule
The only exception is for those who run a purely private Twitch channel. However, this is rarely the case, as Twitch and YouTube, at least above a certain size, generate revenue from various sources, such as subscriptions, donations, advertising fees and the like. This income is sufficient in most cases (99.99% to be exact) to be considered a commercial activity.
It is a common misconception that you must be able to make a living from your business or that you must make a profit to be considered a business. Both are definitely wrong. In addition, the imprint obligation applies not only to companies, but also to individuals.
It is already sufficient that someone could potentially generate revenue, regardless of whether revenue is actually currently being generated. This point can rarely be refuted.
According to § 5 TMG, service providers must provide the following information:
- The name and address at which they are established, in addition, in the case of legal entities, the legal form, the authorized representative and, if information is provided on the capital of the company, the share or nominal capital and, if not all contributions to be made in cash have been paid in, the total amount of outstanding contributions,
- information that enables rapid electronic contact and direct communication with them, including the address of the electronic mail,
- If the service is offered or provided as part of an activity that requires official authorization, information on the responsible supervisory authority,
- The commercial register, register of associations, register of partnerships or register of cooperatives in which they are registered and the corresponding register number, […]
- In cases where they have a VAT identification number pursuant to Section 27a of the Value Added Tax Act or a business identification number pursuant to Section 139c of the Tax Code, the indication of this number.
The Broadcasting State Treaty
Similar requirements arise from Section 55 of the Interstate Broadcasting Treaty. This additionally stipulates that for streams that are of an editorial nature (such as gaming streams that rate or test games), a responsible person must also be named with the name and address.
The lack of an imprint can lead to a warning letter with costs from a competing streamer, against which you can hardly object. Therefore I strongly advise to create an imprint, even if you are not sure if it is necessary.
The issue of commerciality raises numerous other questions, from tax issues to business registration. I will cover these topics in other articles in the coming weeks and months.