Streaming Video Games: Copyright Infringement or Protected Speech?

Eirik Evert Elias Jungar

Received 1 November 2016, published online 7 December 2016

Abstract


Streaming video games, that is, live broadcasting playing video games on the internet, is incredibly popular. Millions tune into twitch.tv daily to watch eSport tournaments, their favourite streamer, and chat with other viewers. But all is not rosy in the world of streaming games. Recently, some game developers have aggressively exercised their copyright to, firstly, claim part of the streamers’ revenue, and secondly, control the context in which their game is shown. The article analyzes whether game developers have, and should have, such rights under EU copyright law. Reaching the conclusion that video game streams infringe the game developer’s right to communicate their works to the public, I argue that freedom of expression can and should be used to rein in their rights in certain cases. Subjecting the lawfulness of streams to game developers’ good will risks stifling the expressions of streamers. The streamers, their audience, and even the copyright holders, would be worse off for it.

Keywords


Video games; Streaming; Copyright; Freedom of speech; EU

Full Text:

PDF

References


1 Legislation and Official Publications

Berne Convention, Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works

WCT, The World Intellectual Property Organization Copyright Treaty

COM (2010) 573: COMMUNICATION FROM THE COMMISSION Strategy for the effective implementation of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by the European Union

InfoSoc Directive, Directive 2001/29/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 May 2001 on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society

Software Directive, Directive 2009/24/EC Of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 April 2009 on the legal protection of computer programs

TRIPS, Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights

2 Case-law

2.1 Court of Justice of the European Union

C-306/05 Sociedad General de Autores y Editores de España (SGAE) v Rafael Hoteles SA. 7 December 2006 ECLI:EU:C:2006:764

C-5/08 Infopaq International A/S v Danske Dagblades Forening 16 July 2009, ECLI:EU:C:2009:46

C-70/10 Scarlet Extended SA v Société belge des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs SCRL (SABAM) 14 November 2011, ECLI:EU:C:2011:771

C-128/11 UsedSoft GmbH v Oracle International Corp 3 July 2012, ECLI:EU:C:2012:407

C-607/11 ITV Broadcasting Ltd and Others v TV Catch Up Ltd. 7 March 2013, ECLI:EU:C:2013:147

C-314/12, UPC Telekabel Wien GmbH v Constantin Film Verleih GmbH, Wega Filmproduktionsgesellschaft mbH, 27 March 2014, ECLI:EU:C:2014:192

C-355/12, Nintendo Co. Ltd and Others v PC Box Srl, 9Net Srl 23 January 2014, ECLI:EU:C:2014:25

C-466/12 Nils Svensson and Others v Retriever Sverige AB, 13 February 2014 ECLI:EU:C:2014:76

C-201/13 Johan Deckmyn and Vrijheidsfonds VZW v Helena Vandersteen and Others. 3 September 2014, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2132

C-248/13 BestWater International GmbH v Michael Mebes and Stefan Potsch 21 October 2014, ECLI:EU:C:2014:2315

C-160/15 GS Media BV v Sanoma Media Netherlands BV and Others. 8 September 2016 ECLI:EU:C:2016:644

2.2 Opinions of Advocate Generals

C-393/09 Opinion of Advocate General Bot Bezpečnostní softwarová asociace – Svaz softwarové ochrany v Ministerstvo kultury on 14 October 2010, ECLI:EU:C:2010:611

C-70/10 Opinion of Advocate General Cruz Villalón in Scarlet Extended SA v Société belge des auteurs, compositeurs et éditeurs SCRL (SABAM)14 April 2011 ECLI:EU:C:2011:255

C-128/11 Opinion of Advocate General Bot in UsedSoft GmbH v Oracle International Corp 3 July 2012, ECLI:EU:C:2012:234

C-355/12, Opinion of Advocate General Sharpston in Nintendo v PC Box, 19 September 2013, ECLI:EU:C:2013:581

C-201/13 Opinion of Advocate General Cruz Villalón in Johan Deckmyn and Vrijheidsfonds VZW v Helena Vandersteen and Others 22 May 2014 ECLI:EU:C:2014:458

2.3 European Court of Human Rights

Ingemar Liljenberg v. Sweden, 1 March 1983, Application No. 9664/82

Lingens v. Austria, 8 July 1986, Application No. 9815/82

Ceylan v. Turkey, 8 July 1999, Application No. 23556/94

Sener v. Turkey, 18 July 2000, Application No. 26680/95

Thoma v. Luxembourg, 29 March 2001, Application No. 38432/97

Maronek v. Slovakia, 19 April 2001, Application No. 32686/96

Dichand and Others v. Austria, 26 February 2002, Application No. 29271/95

Axel Springer AG v. Germany, 7 February 2012, Application No. 39954/08,

Von Hannover v. Germany (No. 2), 7 February 2012, Application Nos. 40660/08 and 60641/08

Mouvement Raëlien Suisse v Switzerland, 13 July 2012, Application No. 16354/06

Ashby Donald and others v. France, 10 January 2013, Application No. 36769/08

Fredrik Neij and Peter Sunde Kolmisoppi (The Pirate Bay) v. Sweden, 19 February 2013, Application No. 40397/12

3 Doctrine

Aufderheide, P, Jaszi, P. (2008) Recut, Reframe, Recycle: Quoting Copyrighted Material in User-Generated Video, Center For Social Media, School of Communication American University

Balkin, J. M. (2004) Digital Speech and Democratic Culture: A theory of freedom of expression for the information society, N.Y.U.L-Rev 1 2004 p 1

Benkler, Y. (2001) A Political Economy of the Public Domain: Markets in Information Goods vs. the Marketplace of Ideas in Cooper, R. C.; Zimmerman, D. L.; First, H. 2001 Expanding the Boundaries of Intellectual Property. Innovation Policy for the Knowledge, Oxford University Press

Bäck, E.; Bäck, H.: Gustafsson, N. (2015) Ungas politiska deltagande. Nya former och aktivitet genom sociala medier? Regeringskansliet, 2014 års Demokratiutredning

Chalmers, D.; Davies, G.; Monti, G. (2014) European Union Law. 3rd edition, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press

Geiger, C. Izyumenko, E. (2014) Copyright on the Human Rights’ Trial: Redifining the Boundaries of Exclusivity through Freedom of Expression, International Review of intellectual Property and Competition Law, Volume 45 Issue 3 pp 316-342

Grosheide, W., Roerdink, H.; Thomas, K. (2014) Intellectual property protection for Video Games: A view from the European Union, Journal of International Commercial Law and Technology, Volume 9, Number 1 2014

Hefler, L. R.; Austin, G. W. (2011) Human Rights and Intellectual Property: Mapping the Global Interface, Cambridge University Press

Hugenholtz, P.B. (2001) Copyright and freedom of expression in Europe, in Cooper, R. C.; Zimmerman, D. L.; First, H. 2001 Expanding the Boundaries of Intellectual Property. Innovation Policy for the Knowledge, Oxford University Press

Joo, J. (2011) Public Video Gaming as a copyright infringement, Apila Quarterly Journal, Volume 39, Number 4, fall 2011 p 563

Lee, Y. H. (2015) Copyright and Freedom of Expression: A literature Review CREATe Working Paper 2015/04 (May 2015)

Leino, O. (2010) Emotions in Play:
On the Constitution of Emotion in Solitary Computer Game Play. Doctoral Dissertation. IT University of Copenhagen

Lemley, M. A. (1997) The Economics of Improvement in Intellectual Property Law, 75 Texas Law Review, p 989

Leveque, F.; Ménière, Y. (2004) The Economics of Patents and Copyright, Berkley Electronic Press, July 2004 Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=642622 Last Accessed 14.10.206

Lipson, A. S.; Brain, R.D. (2009) Computer and video game law – cases, statutes, Forms, Problems & materials, Carolina Academic Press 2009

Lunney, G. S. Jr. (2009) Copyright, Derivative Works, and the Economics of Complements, 12 Vand.J.Ent.& Tech. L. p 779

Mazziotti, G (2008) EU Digital Copyright Law and the End-User, Springer

Meiklejohn, A. (1961) The First Amendment Is an Absolute, The Supreme Court Review, 1961 pp 245-266

Merges, R. P. (2004) Compulsory Licensing vs. the Three “Golden Oldies” Property Rights, Contracts, and Markets, Policy Analysis, Number 508 January 15 2004

Nussbaum, M. C. (1997) Capabilities and Human Rights, Fordham Law Review, Volume 66, Issue 2 p 273

Ramos, A.; López, L.; Rodriguez, A.; Meng, T.; Abrams, S. (2013) The Legal Status of Video Games: Comparative Analysis in National Approaches, World Intellectual Property Organization 29 July 2013

Rosati, E. (2011) Originality in a Work, or a Work of Originality: The Effects of the Infopaq Decision, Journal of the Copyright Society of the U.S.A., Volume 58, Issue 3-4, p 795

Stendell, L. (2005) Fanfic and Fan Fact: How Current Copyright Law Ignores the Reality of Copyright Owner and Consumer Interests in Fan fiction, SMU Law Review, Volume 56 p 1551

Sunstein, C. (1995) Democracy and the Problem of Free Speech, Publishing Research Quarterly, Volume 11, Issue 4 pp 58-72

Tavinor, G. (2008) Definition of Videogames, Contemporary Aesthetics, Volume 6 Issue 1 2008

Torremans, P.L.C. (2004) Copyright and Human Rights: Freedom of Expression, Intellectual Property, Privacy, Kluwer Law International, The Hague, The Netherlands

Trombley, S. (2007) Visions and Revisions: Fanvids and Fair Use, 25 Cardozo Arts & Ent. L.J., p 647 2007-2008

Wong, M. W. S. (2008) “Transformative” User-Generated Content in Copyright Law: Infringing Derivate Works or Fair Use? Vanderbilt Journal of Ent. And Tech. Law, Volume 11, Issue 4, p 1075

4 Other Sources

4.1 Newspaper Articles

BBC News (2016, July 8) YouTube gaming star PewDiePie 'earned $7m, Retrieved from http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33425411 Last accessed 14.10.2016

Cook, J. (2014, October 20) Twitch Founder: We Turned a ‘Terrible Idea’ Into A Billion-Dollar Company, Business insider

Cunningham (2014, February 18), The bizarre, mind-numbing, mesmerizing beauty of “Twitch Plays Pokémon” Arstechnica, Retrieved from http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2014/02/the-bizarre-mind-numbing-mesmerizing-beauty-of-twitch-plays-pokemon/ Last Accessed 12.10.2016

Crecente, B. (2014, June 12) Nintendo: Wii U won’t get Twitch gameplay streaming because it’s not fun to watch. The Polygon, Retrieved from http://www.polygon.com/2014/6/12/5802560/nintendos-fils-aime-wii-u-wont-get-twitch-gameplay-streaming-because Last accessed 19 October 2016

Egger, J. (2015, April 21) How Exactly do Twitch streamers make a living? Destiny breaks it down The Daily Dot, Retrieved from http://www.dailydot.com/esports/twitch-streaming-money-careers-destiny/ Last accessed 14.10.2016

Gaudiosi, J. (2016, 22 January) Why ESPN Is Investing in ESports Coverage, Fortune magazine, Retrieved from http://fortune.com/2016/01/22/espn-invests-in-esports-coverage/ Last accessed 14.10.2016

Goldenberg, D. (2015, October 21) How Kappa Became The Face of Twitch, FivethirtyEight, Retrieved from http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-a-former-twitch-employee-has-one-of-the-most-reproduced-faces-ever/ Last accessed 14.10.2016

Leichtamer, S. (2015, May 13) Nine Insane Moments Caught on Twitch, USGamer, Retrieved from http://www.usgamer.net/articles/9-insane-moments-caught-on-twitch Last Accessed 14.10.2016

Magdaleno, A. (2014, February 19) How a Week-Long Game of Pokémon Became a War of Religion, Mashable, Retrieved from http://mashable.com/2014/02/19/pokemon-stream-twitch/#rvpmaZB7B5q0 Last accessed 12.10.2016

McGormick, R. (2016, July 12) PewDiePie and other YouTubers took money from Warner Bros. for positive game reviews, The Verge, Retrieved from http://www.theverge.com/2016/7/12/12157310/pewdiepie-youtubers-sponsored-videos-ftc-warner-bros Last accessed 13.10.2016

Mullen, J. (2013, July 17) Nintendo kicks “Let’s Play” videos off YouTube then slaps ads on them, ArsTechnica, Retrieved from http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/05/nintendo-kicks-lets-play-videos-off-youtube-then-slaps-ads-on-them/ Last accessed 14.10.2016

Parlock, J. (2015, September 10) Nintendo’s cracking down on speedrunning and ROM hacking videos, The Destroctoid, Retrieved from https://www.destructoid.com/nintendo-s-cracking-down-on-speedrunning-and-rom-hacking-videos-310152.phtml Last Accessed 19.10.2016

Prell, S. (2014, February 22) Twitch Plays Pokemon: It’s history, highlights and Bird Jesus, Engadget, Retrieved from https://www.engadget.com/2014/02/22/twitch-plays-pokemon-its-history-highlights-and-bird-jesus/ Last accessed 12.10.2016

Paul, J (2016, September 16) By The Numbers: Most Popular Online Games Right Now, NowLoading, Retrieved from https://nowloading.co/posts/3916216 Last Accessed 24.10.2016

Roguebishop (2016, February 24) 4 Signs You’re Experiencing Twitch.tv Burnout, PlayNation, Retrieved from https://dev.playnation.io/2016/4-signs-youre-experiencing-twitch-burnout/) Last accessed 14.10.2016

Rosenberg, E. (2015, March 26) How Youtube Ad Revenue Works, Investopedia, Retrieved from http://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/032615/how-youtube-ad-revenue-works.asp Last accessed 14.10.2016

Santangelo, N. (2015, April 10) Should game Developers Let Everyone Stream Every Part of Every Game? XBLAFans, Retrieved from http://www.xblafans.com/should-game-developers-let-everyone-stream-every-part-of-every-game-80474.html, Last accessed 19.10.2016

Sathe, G (2014, March 24) The hive mind at work: Twitch Plays Pokemon, Gadgets 360, Retrieved from http://gadgets.ndtv.com/games/features/the-hive-mind-at-work-twitch-plays-pokemon-499384 Last accessed 12.10.2016

Spangler, T. (2013, November 1) Video site is moving content partners to a 55-45 revshare while letting them keep revenue for ads that exceed rate card, Variety Magazine

Thomsen, M. (2015, July 11) PewDiePie Doesn’t make Anywhere Close to What he Should be Making, Forbes

Wagner, K (2015, July 1) YouTube Beware: Facebook Will Start Sharing Ad Revenue With Video Creators No coincidence here: Facebook's revenue split is the same as YouTube's., Recode, 1 Retrieved from http://www.recode.net/2015/7/1/11564024/youtube-beware-facebook-will-start-sharing-ad-revenue-with-video Last accessed 14.10.2016

Wingfield, N. (2014, August 26) What’s Twitch? Gamers Know, and Amazon Spent 1 Billion on it, N.Y Times

Zacny, R. (2013) LCS "a significant investment that we’re not making money from", but Riot love it anyway PCGamesN, Retrieved from http://www.pcgamesn.com/leagueoflegends/lcs-significant-investment-we-re-not-making-money-riot-love-it-anyway Last accessed 14.10.2016

4.2 Web-pages

Ask The Fossil (http://askhelixfossil.com/#w3gezt) Last Accessed 12.10.2016

Bailey, J. (2015, April 9) Nintendo’s Copyright Blunder, PlagiarismToday, Retrieved from https://www.plagiarismtoday.com/2015/04/09/nintendos-copyright-blunder/ Last Accessed 26.10.2016

Beyond the Summit About, Retrieved from http://beyondthesummit.tv/about/

Blizzard Video Policy, Retrieved from http://us.blizzard.com/en-us/company/legal/videopolicy.html Last accessed 9.30.2016

Boieru, Reddit (2014) What Legendary Twitch Moments do you remember? Retrieved from https://www.reddit.com/r/Twitch/comments/2g38lu/what_legendary_twitch_moments_do_you_remember/ Last accessed 19.10.2016

Caucxican, Reddit (2015) Blizzard suddenly gets aggressive with Twitch streamers streaming private Vanilla servers – DMCA takedown and channels banned today; Arena Junkies People getting banned on twitch for streaming vanilla servers, Retrieved from https://www.reddit.com/r/wow/comments/31cv9e/blizzard_suddenly_getting_aggressive_with_twitch/ Last accessed 19.20.2016

Datgts, Imgur. (2015, April 3) Kappalisa, Retrieved from http://imgur.com/YHvZ4AH Last Accessed 14.10.2016

Day[9]’s Manifesto, Retrieved from http://day9.tv/manifesto/ Last Accessed 25.10.2016

Day[9]’s Best Moments, YouTube (2011, October 12) Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWJvvRbJ4pM Last Accessed 14.10.2016

Fenner, (2015, January) How much does a streamer make, Retrieved from http://danielfenner.com/how-much-does-a-streamer-make-january-2015/ Last accessed 14.10.2016

Helixpedia Church of Helix, Retrieved from http://helixpedia.wikia.com/wiki/Church_of_Helix Last Accessed 26.10.2016

Microsoft Rules, Retrieved from http://www.xbox.com/en-US/developers/rules Last Accessed 9.30.2016

Monkeyonstrike, Reddit, (2015) Create a Kappa, Retrieved from https://www.reddit.com/r/twitchcreative/comments/3bad0l/community_project_july_is_create_a_kappa_month/ Last accessed 14.10.2016

MrPavySRK, YouTube (2012, September 30), Origin of Resident Sleeper, Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nI1YWEdVZ5M Last accessed 14.10.2016

Nintendo, Nintendo Partnership Program, Retrieved from https://r.ncp.nintendo.net/guide/ Last Accessed 14.10.2016

Riot Legal Jibber Jabber, Retrieved from http://www.riotgames.com/legal-jibber-jabber Last Accessed 09.30.2016

Riot Spectatefaker: What we Learned and What we’ll do, Retrieved from http://na.leagueoflegends.com/en/news/riot-games/announcements/spectatefaker-what-we-learned-and-what-well-do Last Accessed 14.10.2016

Socialblade Top 50 Channel Views, Retrieved from https://socialblade.com/twitch/top/50/channelviews Last accessed 14.10.2016

Twitch.tv Emotes, Residentsleeper, Retrieved from https://twitchemotes.com/emote/_ResidentSleeper Last accessed 14.10.2016

Ubisoft Policy on YouTube, Retrieved from http://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/773564-Ubisoft-policy-on-YouTube-videos#Ubisoft%20YouTube%20policy Last Accessed 9.30.201

Valve Video Policy, Retrieved from http://store.steampowered.com/video_policy Last accessed 30.9.2016

YouTube Official Blog (2015, June 12) A YouTube built for gamers, Retrieved from https://youtube.googleblog.com/2015/06/a-youtube-built-for-gamers.html last accessed 14.10.2016

4.3 Reports

WIPO, Standard Provisions on protection of Computer Programs, Retrieved from http://www.wipo.int/edocs/mdocs/copyright/en/wipo_ip_cm_07/wipo_ip_cm_07_www_82573.doc (Last accessed 14.10.2016)


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Copyright (c) 2016 Eirik Evert Elias Jungar

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.