Esport teams and streamers: half-hearted = legally dangerous

An overview for esport teams and streamers

My blog is now full of legal questions and warnings that affect esports teams or streamers in one way or another. And of course I also get regular requests to look after teams, streamers, influencers and the like.

Almost always the topic of whether they can afford comprehensive legal support and of course there is also feedback, one would only do it semi-professionally and it would actually be “just hobby”.

Since I had the exact conversation again only yesterday, I would like to issue a brief warning again today.

Please don’t just do it half-heartedly!

It is completely valid to run an esport team only hobby-wise or to publish computer games and other content just for pure fun on YouTube or to stream via Twitch.

But it is important to decide whether you want to approach it professionally or whether it should be a hobby. The reason for this is based on the way in which liability for certain legal matters is constructed. It is true that one may not infringe copyright in privately, but other obligations are expressly – or logically – linked to industrial activity, such as trademark law, consumer information, obligations to label advertising, imprint obligation and much more. Precisely these obligations due to commercial activity (and the obligations as a merchant in the HGB are even greater!) are quite liable, endangered with regard to warnings and can lead to unmanageable personal risks.

Questions relating to the minimum wage, undeclared work, taxes, business registrations or similar liability risks are either not given in the case of purely private action or sometimes lead to a different assessment of the facts.

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Achieving the fine line that it is possible to talk about a commercial activity, and this is achieved very quickly, for example, when a sponsor pays for his own server or covers travel expenses for events, but also if you are advertising on YouTube or Twitch paid for, then you are usually on things like tax returns (see this post), advertising label (see very current this post) and many other things. The work that one then has with the administration and the costs that a lawyer estimates for a consultation usually exceed the advantage of sponsorship many times over.

If you plan a professional approach, even in the medium term, then you simply have to see these costs and the work as a hedge or an investment. However, these costs only make sense if you do not know that it only stays with a hobby team or that you have neither the time nor the ambitions to become a professional streamer in the medium term.

A bit professional is not possible.

As you can see, a “I’m a bit professional!” is legally very dangerous, because you don’t usually foresee the consequences, but also business nonsense. So as soon as you play with the idea or get the possibility that you could make money with streaming, esports or other services, if only a little, you should be the first to ask yourself the question where you will see yourself in a few months.

You can contact me about individual questions and I would also like to advise against things (without me asking an invoice); However, we can also evaluate together which procedure makes sense and we discuss necessary steps (and costs) from business start-up, tax and business registration to the necessity of contracts.


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