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Reaction videos and YouTube: Frankfurt Regional Court addresses legal issues again

This post is also available in: Deutsch

What are Reaction Videos?

Reaction videos are a popular format on platforms like YouTube and Twitch. In these videos, content creators record their reactions while watching various media content such as movies, music videos, video games, or other online videos. Often creators share their thoughts, opinions and emotions with their audience, which provides entertainment and engagement.

The popularity of Reaction videos lies in their authenticity and ability to create a community around shared interests. Viewers often feel connected to the reactions of content creators, as these reactions often reflect real and immediate emotions. In addition, reaction videos often add value by providing additional contextual information or analytics about the reacted content. For example, music lovers might follow a music critic who offers in-depth analysis of new albums and songs in his Reaction videos.

Legal pitfalls with Reaction videos

However, Reaction videos also carry legal risks. One of the main problems is that using copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder can be considered copyright infringement. Personal rights can also be violated if people are shown or addressed in the videos without their consent. For more information on the legal risks of Reaction videos, check out this comprehensive guide here on the blog.

Frankfurt Regional Court deals with Reaction videos again

Recently, the Frankfurt Regional Court has twice dealt with the issue of Reaction videos and YouTube. The second ruling has just come to light and concerns a particularly specific and relevant issue: is it allowed to play a voice recording from WhatsApp in a YouTube video, especially in a Reaction video?

The court’s repeated engagement with this issue underscores the growing relevance and legal challenges associated with online content creation. At a time when more and more people are using platforms like YouTube to share content and express themselves, clear legal guidelines are essential.

The first time the Frankfurt Regional Court dealt with Reaction videos was also significant, but the latest ruling attracts special attention because it deals with the integration of voice messages in videos. This raises questions about the privacy and consent of the people involved in the voicemails.

With the increasing use of messaging apps like WhatsApp, where voice messages are a common form of communication, the ruling could be groundbreaking. It sheds light on the fact that although the Internet is often considered a space of free expression, there are still boundaries that must be respected, especially when it comes to privacy and the rights of others.

Considering that reaction videos are often spontaneous and show creators’ reactions in real time, it is especially important for content creators to be aware of the legal implications associated with using materials like voice messages. It’s also a wake-up call for everyone who uses digital platforms to share content to be aware of the responsibility that comes with this freedom.

The verdict: Voice messages and privacy rights

The case involved a YouTube video in which the creator played a voice message sent to him via WhatsApp. The court had to decide whether playing the voice message without the sender’s consent constituted a violation of the right of personality. The Frankfurt Regional Court ruled that playing a voice message in a publicly accessible video without the express consent of the sender may indeed constitute a violation of the right of personality. This ruling underscores the importance of carefully considering what materials are being used and whether the necessary consents have been obtained when creating Reaction videos and other content on YouTube.

This ruling has far-reaching implications, not only for content creators, but also for the general public. It suggests that voice messages, similar to written communications, can be considered personal and private information. This means that sharing such messages without consent can be considered an invasion of privacy, which is especially relevant in today’s era of digital networking.

For content creators, this could mean they may need to be more careful about what content they use in their videos. This is especially true for Reaction videos, where the spontaneous and unfiltered element is often appreciated. It is important to strike a balance between sharing authentic reactions and respecting the rights and privacy of others.

Moreover, this ruling suggests that individuals sending voice messages may have some expectation of privacy, even if the message is sent to an individual. This could lead people to be more cautious about what they share in voice messages, especially if they are aware of the possibility that their messages could be made public without their consent.

The Frankfurt Regional Court’s ruling could serve as a precedent for similar cases in the future and helps clarify the legal boundaries in the ever-evolving digital landscape. It serves as a reminder that while the Internet and social media provide opportunities for free expression and creativity, this must be accompanied by responsibility and consideration for the rights of others.

Conclusion: The importance of responsible content creation

This ruling by the Frankfurt Regional Court joins a growing body of case law highlighting the need for responsible and legally compliant content creation. It is essential that content creators are aware of the legal framework and take appropriate precautions to protect their work and avoid legal conflicts.

In particular, recent case law shows that creating and posting Reaction videos can become increasingly difficult and risky, especially when addressing provocative topics that can garner a lot of engagement from followers. Reaction videos, which are often characterized by spontaneity and authenticity, can run afoul of legal requirements, especially when they use materials that may require consents or affect the rights of third parties.

Content creators who address provocative topics to attract attention and increase interaction with their followers need to be especially vigilant. They should consider whether the materials used in their videos, including voice messages, images, or clips, might infringe the privacy rights of others or violate copyright laws. It is important to remember that achieving high follower engagement rates should not come at the expense of legal compliance.

In this context, content creators may want to rethink their strategies and look for ways to create authentic and engaging content without violating legal requirements. This could be accomplished through careful planning, research, and seeking legal advice when appropriate.

Ultimately, the ruling of the Frankfurt Regional Court shows that content creation in the online world is a complex matter that requires both creative freedom and legal responsibility. In a rapidly changing digital landscape, content creators must be proactive, educate themselves, and act responsibly to continue their creative work while respecting the rights and well-being of others.

By the way, in the case at hand, there is also the fact that the proceedings did not take place directly between the allegedly infringed party and the influencer, but were conducted on YouTube, because the influencer was not so easily accessible due to the lack of an imprint (unlike in the case I represented, in which the agency was also affected). Of course, this may initially be considered an advantage of not listing an imprint. In reality, however, the creator involved here will probably soon get into trouble with YouTube and – at the latest in the case of a repeat offence – will not only have to take a video offline, but perhaps lose his entire channel.

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel

Marian Härtel is a lawyer and entrepreneur specializing in copyright law, competition law and IT/IP law, with a focus on games, esports, media and blockchain.


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