Navigating Fair Use as a Gaming Streaming

11 October 2017
 Categories: , Blog


A new middle class has been born in the gaming industry. Once of pipe dream of winning tournaments or becoming a game tester, there are a lot of opportunities in low, middle, and high income levels for sole proprietors and team businesses. There are many earning opportunities outside of direct gameplay alone, but you need to be careful when using a company's game for your earning opportunities. Here are a few legal precautions for gamers looking to expand their income.

Fair Use for Reviews & Commentary

You can earn money by reviewing games or bringing games into your discussion. People want to talk about gaming content, laugh at gaming jokes, and just enjoy the culture that builds around fictional worlds and the ability to interact with those worlds. It's not so different from books, and just like with books, the original author has some say in the matter.

Fair use covers the rules and concepts behind using existing works without violating copyright. The new content needs to be sufficiently transformative, meaning that it creates new content through commentary or creative additions. This is mostly to stop people from making money by simply playing videos and raking in advertisement money.

The concept has a few gray areas, and has been challenged in a few high-profile situations. These situations are usually loaded with other issues, such as offensive or violent content that goes against the company's values. That said, it isn't impossible for you as a reviewer to get on the bad side of a company that is protective of its copyright--or its reputation.

If you feel like dabbling in any commentary-based game content, be sure to have a business attorney on your side. As long as they're aware of your business direction and the type of content you make, it's easier to do additional research based on the particular project.

Loss of Potential Income Through Partnerships

Many streamers make money through ad partnerships, and it's not always about plugging a product or wearing a company's logo on a shirt or hat. Especially for game streamers, ads may show between YouTube or Twitch videos.

Not all streamers enter the ad market with the wisdom and lessons learned to avoid being ripped off. Signing a contract doesn't always mean that the deal with go through; an advertiser may make their contract easier for them to escape while still holding you up to their advertisement promises under their terms.

A business attorney should be consulted to view all contracts. It's understandable that a new streamer being offered a lot of money—especially after making minimum wage or no money—will jump at a great offer, and that may be fine at the beginning. As you look into a career or branching out into a multiple employee business, just make sure that you're consulting with a professional.

Contact a service like Law Offices of Bonnie M. Benson, P.A. to discuss other aspects of protecting your earning opportunities as a gaming professional.