Is it legal to stream STA games?

I know for a fact that, because of copyright laws, many videogame companies will take legal action against people who stream their videogames. A good recent example was Square Enix suing people who streamed FFVII remake before its full global release was complete.

STA is, as far as I know, the property of CBS right? I also know that CBS specifically has had an extremely antagonistic attitude toward entertainment media created by fans of Star Trek, specifically against fanfic, fan games, and fan films.

So, does the copyright situation of this game give players of the game the right to create entertainment media which uses copyrighted and trademarked subjects?

For example, if I were streaming a game and there was a brief encounter with the U.S.S. Enterprise D and her crew, or even just mention of it, could I potentially face legal consequences?

I see people stream their games on Youtube all the time. I’m not aware of any videos that have been taken down.

Just because legal action hasn’t been taken doesn’t necessarily make it legal.

The fact that most companies tolerate fan infringement of their IP for PR and marketing purposes doesn’t make their infringement legal, just tolerated.

In my country it’s perfectly legal, it falls under the principle of fair use, don’t know in yours.

Based on events a couple of years ago - don’t try to make any money out of it!

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What happened a couple of years ago?

The Axanar debacle?

Not game streaming, but fans making money out of tribute material.

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I feel like Axanar is a special case, that is probably not worth getting into in too much detail here.

I would expect that certain streaming services would have looked into the legality of streaming, and wouldn’t have risked it if there was a chance of legal problems. That said, I do believe there is something in excluding “Star Trek” from the title for legal reasons

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As long as you’re not charging to view the show then running streams or prerecorded shows of people playing the game is fine. It’s up to you what content you include - it’s your game, however please remember you cannot claim any ownership over Star Trek content you create.


Aah, yes, Axanar was more than a few years ago, I think, but I get what you mean. That’s partially what inspired this post in fact.

Thanks, Chris, for giving a more authoritative voice on the subject.

It’s worth noting that you can’t just apply the idea of “fair use” and be free and clear - it’s a form of legal argument, not a clause that will prevent action against you or even see you in the clear.

Librarian speaking: while ‘fair use’ is quite well-defined, it doesn’t apply outside the USA. In the UK, you’d need to be extra careful: our equivalent is ‘fair dealing’ and has a different range of exceptions. We’re also subject to EU copyright laws which are very strict (even post-Brexit).

However, streaming an actual play session may fall under ‘transformative works’, where there is a certain amount of leeway.

Actually in my country it’s not an argument, it’s a right translated into law, and defined in the intellectual property law code.

What country are you from???

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France. Unfortunately the French laws more often than not pushed aside by the gafa in favor of American laws, even for French users.

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From what I understand, international copyright law tends to be modelled after American copyright law, and otherwise for digital environments defaults to the laws of the country in which the data is hosted- which is almost entirely America.

Unfortunately, it is far more complex.

I do not know enough about the U.S. American copyright law to assess whether it’s modeled after that, or not, but: International copyright law (as in: the international law dealing with copyright) is, first and foremost, old. The Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works was originally signed in 1886. In other words: When Data was thrown back in time to San Francisco of 1893 in TNG 5x26 “Time’s Arrow”, the Convention was already in effect for about five years. I’ll leave it to you to consider whether you’ll find something useful on streaming in that document. It refers to content fixed on media, anyway, so… Well, not gonna help much, this one.

Now, there are definetly some (or some more) bilateral accords on how to deal with copyright. But in principle, every State makes its own rules. Not even within the European Union with its rather comprehensive approach towards harmonisation of legislation (ask the British who are around, they can probably tell you some horrific [and probably made up] story from some campaign involving red busses some years ago) there is a unified approach to copyright law.

How do I know? I happen to live in Germany, that, incidentally, just like France, is part of the EU. Is there something like “fair use” in Germany? Nine Hells, no, there isn’t.

The interesting thing about copyright law is the question who holds jurisdiction. And on this question, courts seem to differ, often claiming jurisdiction for themselves. There’s the case of the Gutenberg project where an American who hosted a work that was under public domain under American copyright law on an American server – who received a takedown order(!) from a German court because the content was accessible within Germany and copyright for the books in question that were published in the 1910s would, in Germany, only expire in 2022 or so.

So, if you would just take Chronic, me, and a Twitch server farm that would happen to be built, just for the sake of argument, in UK, you’d have four possible applicable legislations and possibly even more courts claiming jurisdiction:

  • French legislation, because Chronic is located in France
  • American legislation, because Twitch is an American company
  • British legislation, because the data is actually located on servers in UK
  • German legislation, because I access it from Germany

Set aside the fact, that I probably wouldn’t be the only one watching Chronic’s stream.

In conclusion: Copyright law is lower-back-pain, even more so, when you internationalise the case.

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In conclusion: Copyright law is lower-back-pain, even more so, when you internationalise the case.

Hear, hear!

And to add to the fun, under the Berne Convention - the most stringent set of rules applies…

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