It’s not often (I hope) that you’ll find this writer and ‘the Biebs’ on the same side of an issue.

This is something I didn’t see gain too much traction in esports circles, but I think it’s something that the community at large, and Twitch in particular, needs to keep an eye on and maybe start forming an advocacy strategy against.

Also, oh hey, looky here - another excellent purpose for an organized player union! But I digress…

The paper in question here outlines the Obama administration’s stance on copyright issues yet to be fully ironed out in the face of our evolving, digitial-heavy world. The particular wrinkle that applies to the esports scene is that which would make unauthorized streaming a felony, upgraded from a misdemeanor.

The obvious application for this are cases of movies being streamed, or television shows and coverage of sporting events being re-streamed over the internet. Such changes, however, could have unintended but significant impacts for the esports scene that relies almost entirely on the ability to stream gameplay without really thinking about it much.

To illustrate the impact these legislative changes would have, we can use the practical example of Nintendo’s scuffle with the Smash scene over the tournament and stream from this year’s EVO. With the changes that the administration is getting behind, Nintendo could have brought felony charges against the organizers. Yup.

Granted, most publishers have come to grips with the implications of letting users stream, and most have found the results to be positive and have adopted a laissez faire approach to it, at least as long as the streaming is a non-commercial context. That is, the blanket policies forbid streamers to be deriving revenue through streaming via ads - a stance that puts pretty much the whole of the streaming ecosystem in awkward territory.

This is something that Twitch absolutely needs to get sorted out. I only took a quick trip over Twitch’s legalese, but it seems pretty evident that they offload all responsibility for the legality of streamed content to the streamers. This fact is something that I think most streamers are blithely unaware of. I think there’s an undeniable implication that Twitch provides some sort of blanket permission to stream any gaming content without worries; and that’s not the case at all.

I plan to try and seek further clarification of these issues from some prominent streamers and Twitch shortly.