Twitch recently introduced subscriber only streams seem to fall foul of the Terms of Service of many popular games that are broadcast on the website, according to some investigative work by a Redditor. Justalazygamer set about examining the Terms of Service of many popular games to see what they said about privately streaming content, and they found a very interesting commonality.
They cited examples from four of the better-known developers, all of which expressly state that their games can be streamed, but may not be streamed for a fee. While you can stream the games on platforms that have subscribers versus free viewers, the developers do not want you to paywall the stream, and state it should be available for free viewing if it is being streamed.
Justalazygamer pulled parts from the TOS for Blizzard, Valve, Riot, and CD Projekt Red that all say the same thing in slightly different wording. For Blizzard, the critical line is “Neither you nor the operator of any website where your Production(s) may be viewed can force a viewer to pay a “fee” to be able to view your Production(s).”
For Valve, they clearly state, “Use of our content in videos must be non-commercial. By that we mean you can’t charge users to view or access your videos. You also can’t sell or license your videos to others for a payment of any kind.” Riot is especially evident in their wording, “We permit individual players to solicit personal donations or offer subscription-based content while live-streaming games, so long as non-subscribers can still watch the games concurrently.”
Finally, CD Projekt Red state that, “…remember that the use of our content in your videos and streams has to be non-commercial – meaning you can neither charge users to view your work nor sell or license it to others in exchange for any kind of payment”.
So, that is four cases of the subscriber-only streams seeming to very obviously breach the TOS that companies have established to smooth the path for Streamers and Youtubers. The big question is, will anybody care? Getting air time on Twitch is now very important for these companies, and it is unlikely that they will really push back against what Twitch is doing.
Still, there is always a chance that something might happen from a legal point of view, so we will keep an eye on this as it unfolds. Also, well done to Justalazygamer for putting in the work to check all this out.