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Twitch Streams and Let's Plays: Attention!

This post is also available in: Deutsch

In keeping with today’s article, I would like to briefly stress that the right to quote also does not apply to computer games and Let’s Plays. In most cases, and this may still surprise some streamers, a Twitch stream or even a Let’s Play on YouTube may be a copyright infringement by the game manufacturer. In any case, if the German Copyright Act is subsumed cleanly. In German copyright law, there is, neither codified nor – with a few exceptions, developed by the courts, a fair-use principle, as the American copyright law knows it.

An exception to show a computer game, be it for the PC, for consoles or for the mobile phone via Twitch, YouTube or other streaming platforms, is only given if there is an explicit permission of the manufacturer. This can also be done in general, via the streaming provider or, for example, with influencers as part of an advertising deal. However, the fact that another Let’s Player represents the same game is not a permit for its own use.

Neither the citation right nor the alleged lack of > commercial orientation (which is legal and not given for 99 of all major streamers/YouTubers) lead to a different result.

The vast majority of streamers/YouTubers are therefore always subject to a certain risk of being asked to omission by the respective rights holder and also correspond to pay damages. If this has only happened in a few cases so far, it is purely due to the importance of influencers/streamers/esports players in the context of the MANUFACTURERS’ PR and marketing efforts, but not a legal authorisation.

Because with a let’s-play video or streams, in which excerpts from a computer game are shown, the rights of the game manufacturer are interfered with, such as the exclusive right to make available according to Section 18a of the UrhG, the right to reproduce according to S. 15 UrhG and distribution in accordance with Section 16 of the UrhG.

A famous exception to toleration of use was even Nintendo, which for a long time made it very difficult to use their games in video. It wasn’t until this year that the practice was changed and you can use Nintendo material as long as you follow these guidelines. Other manufacturers have or may have similar rules. As a streamer, however, you should always be aware of the risk.

Just by the way, a much greater risk is the use of any music in his videos, possibly even famous performers. In most cases, this is a clear copyright infringement, is by no means permitted simply because the song name and the artist are mentioned in the video description and can not only lead to expensive warnings, but as part of YouTube’s efforts around Content ID also leads to massive loss of revenue or even the complete exclusion of advertising revenue.

It is therefore highly advisable to make a request to the manufacturer before the release of videos or before the operation of Twitch channels, or at least – for example with me – to consult 😉


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.


03322 5078053


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