Startup and video game law, from a Canadian and U.S. perspective
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.