- By Paul SITGES
Before delving into the legal regulation around streamers, we must define this figure minimally.
A Streamer is originally a content creator who spreads it through some platform or online social media in real time. The content of the streamers shows them playing a video game, commenting on it, as happens in the broadcasts of matches on television or radio, or creating a gathering with guests and streaming viewers discussing a particular topic, as if it were from a talk show or podcast. In general, the content is broadcast through a specialized platform such as Twitch or through YouTube, but other platforms are emerging that allow this type of broadcast in real time, such as Facebook¸ which last year opted for this feature on your social network.
Streamers can be grouped into two groups, those who broadcast their content as a hobby, without obtaining income, or as a professional and organized activity, that is, obtaining income on a regular basis and maintaining an established weekly broadcast schedule. Among the latter, we find two different professional streamer figures: those who carry out their activity in a completely autonomous way and those who carry out their broadcasts under contract or under a relationship with an e-Sports club or a third party to whom interested in publicizing your image. From now on, we will bring up the characteristics of the streamers that carry out their activity autonomously.
Earning income from broadcasts is based primarily on the following:
- In the donations of the spectators, who can donate at any moment of the broadcast to which a notification will appear on the screen that will be seen by everyone who is watching the stream.
- Through a monthly subscription, that is, a significant contribution that ranges between € 5 and € 8 per month to support the streamer so that he can keep up with the broadcasts. These subscriptions, also, usually give certain advantages to the subscriber, such as receiving personalized emoticons, entering voice chats in which the broadcaster / streamer and other viewers participate, or preventing advertisements from appearing throughout the broadcasts.
- The income received from the advertisements that the broadcaster itself controls. In other words, the streamer can decide when to "launch" an ad on his broadcast, which will stop the broadcast to show the ad to all viewers who are not subscribed to his channel.
- Those obtained from Sponsors, e-Sports clubs or even companies dedicated to telecommunications or television media that hire them to carry out their activity and advertise their brands or programs. Thus, at the moment when the streamer makes money when carrying out his activity and there is a relationship with an electronic sports club or a communication medium, said relationship is protected by the regulation of Law 34/1988, of 11 of November, General Advertising, and, specifically, in the regulation of the figures provided by this Law, which are the advertising agency or an advertising medium. However, we reserve ourselves to elaborate on this legal relationship for another article related to this. Currently, there are more and more major professional league teams in different sports that are making their way into the world of eSports and sponsorships, so this figure that we mentioned will begin to be seen even more.
Unlike these last two figures regulated in the Law, the autonomous streamer, that is to say, one who is not a professional player of an electronic sport or who does not belong to any team or club or has a contractual relationship with a third party, is practically in a limbo in which its economic activity is not specifically regulated.
Based on the guidelines of the General Directorate of Taxes, it follows that, for the purposes of the IAE, this type of activity carried out by content creators / streamers “provided that its dissemination is of a public nature, regardless of whether it generates or not an economic performance, it constitutes an economic activity ”, within the terms of article 79.1 of the Law Regulating Local Finance.
The aspect that generates the most doubts, therefore, is the fiscal one since streaming is a relatively modern and recently emerging sector that differs considerably from the traditional model of economic activity.
The first problem that most streamers encounter is when registering as freelancers, since they must register under another type of activity heading as theirs does not appear as such in any other. For this reason, that is why they end up being designated under the headings of artist, make-up artist, bullfighter or under the heading of cinematographic film production, as the General Directorate of Taxes has pronounced to indicate the most appropriate heading for YouTubers according to the binding resolution V0992-16, of March 14, 2016.
Likewise, since most of their income is due to the advertisements that are displayed in their retransmissions, they must also register in the heading of group 844, relative to “Advertising, public relations and similar services”.
Currently, as we have anticipated, there is no legal framework that defines this figure or regulates all this matter, so little by little the legal loopholes in which content creators and streamers find themselves are being patched.
Given the importance of broadcasting channels for professional online video game games, podcasts broadcast from social networks such as Twitch, as well as the videos of these broadcasts that end up also being published on YouTube, this is why a more specific and comprehensive regulation of All the resources that are employed for creating content is required today.
Although it is true that up to now the fiscal situation of autonomous streamers has been saved by registering their activity as the production of cinematographic films or artists, it is no less true that by not being part of an explicit epigraph, the control regarding the income and expenses that these people make is still complicated since they do not really issue invoices to third parties or are rarely generated and maintaining this control in a record book is difficult to justify in most cases.
In conclusion, despite the fact that the quickest and most effective reaction for the moment has been to try to answer these doubts by means of an analogy with other professional activities already registered, the reality is that the regulation of this figure continues to be a growing need.
Are you a Streamer and need legal advice? Our lawyers are at your full disposal to guide you regarding any doubts you may have. Contact us or use our online legal consultations by the web and / or videoconference.