Tag Archives: DMCA

You Need a Streaming License

Streamers are increasingly important to the success of indie video games and our clients often encourage streaming as a way to increase exposure without substantial expense.  However, recent streamer controversies illustrate the need for developers to include an explicit streaming license and code of conduct within the game’s End User License Agreement (EULA) with broad grounds for termination.

What is a streaming license?  A streaming license expressly grants users a license to stream the video game but makes it clear that this license can be revoked at any time, without notice or compensation.  Without this language, substantial ambiguity remains concerning the scope of the license and impact of termination.  Consider the following example:

DEVELOPER grants you a license to publicly display the Game on online video streaming websites, such as youtube.com and twitch.com, and social media, such as tweeting a GIF. DEVELOPER may terminate or modify the scope of this license at any time without notice or compensation and will not be liable to you or any third party for any loss incurred relating thereto.

You can also draft the license to fit your company’s particular needs.  For example, the streaming license could prohibit monetization of the stream.

Do you have a Code of Conduct?  In addition to a streaming license, we recommend that the EULA contain a user code of conduct that prohibits certain conduct, such as profanity, nudity etc.  Breach of this code could provide a basis for terminating a user’s streaming license, although not the only basis.

Can’t I just use the DMCA?  Yes, a Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claim is the quickest way to secure removal of a stream and  a clear streaming license (with termination language) provides a clear basis for making the DMCA claim.  Without a streaming license, unnecessary ambiguity remains concerning the impact of termination (for example, could liability follow if you terminate a lucrative stream that was previously permitted?).

In sum:  It benefits your streaming community to receive a clear streaming license and to understand the basis upon which the license can be used and revoked.  While you can remove an offensive stream without such a clause (under the DMCA), ambiguity does little to benefit your company or streaming community.

Using the DMCA to Limit Liability for 3rd Party Copyright Infringement

Worried about lawsuits resulting from 3rd parties infringing copyright through your website or application?  The US Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA“) may be a solution!  The DMCA contains a safe harbour that protects online service providers from liability for copyright infringement committed by 3rd parties on/through the service.  At the outset, you should already qualify as a service provider as it is any businesses that operates a website or other Internet services (mobile applications, games connected to the Internet etc.) or facilities.

In order to take advance of the DMCA, your company will need to comply with a number of simple steps (in part):

1.  Designate a Copyright Agent to receive DMCA notices with the US Copyright Office;

2.  Post the Copyright Agent’s contact information on your website;

3.   Adopt, implement and communicate to users a policy to prevent/terminate repeat infringers; and

4.  Quickly respond to DMCA notices.

In addition to meeting a number of additional elements that are not covered in this post.

The focus of this post is on the Copyright Agent.  Frequently, companies are denied the above DMCA safe harbour simply because they have not complied with the Copyright Agent terms, a shocking result especially as compliance is relatively simple.

The first requirement is to appoint the agent.  This is done by filling out a form (http://copyright.gov/onlinesp/agent.pdf) that designates the agent and by sending it, along with payment, to the US Copyright Office.  The agent’s role is to respond to DMCA notices and, as such, needs to be a person within the company that understands the DMCA notice process or the company’s legal counsel.  Typically, the company’s legal counsel acts as the Copyright Agent barring sufficient internal DMCA expertise.

The second requirement is to post the agent’s information on your website.  Again, another simple step.  Usually the agent’s contact information is placed in the Terms of Service Agreement governing your website in a separate section concerning the DMCA, the copyright agent and the DMCA notice process.

If you are a U.S. company, check to see if you are in compliance with the DMCA so that you may take advance of the safe harbour described above.  Additionally, for certain Canadian companies, it may be a prudent business decision to comply with the DMCA (check with your legal counsel).