Streaming Video Games: Copyright Infringement or Protected Speech?

  • Eirik Evert Elias Jungar Uppsala University


Streaming video games, that is, live broadcasting playing video games on the internet, is incredibly popular. Millions tune into 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.

Author Biography

Eirik Evert Elias Jungar, Uppsala University

Master of Laws Student at Uppsala University.


7.1 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

7.2 Case-law

7.2.1 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

7.2.2 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

7.2.3 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

7.3 Doctrine

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7.4 Other Sources

7.4.1 Newspaper Articles

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7.4.2 Web-pages

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7.4.3 Reports

WIPO, Standard Provisions on protection of Computer Programs, Retrieved from (Last accessed 14.10.2016)
December 7, 2016