You might want to think twice about running a non-stop livestream just because you can — at least in Germany, regulators will want to have a word with you. They’ve told the 24-hour let’s play channel PietSmietTV that it has to apply for a broadcasting license by April 30th if it wants to keep running. While it’s operating through Twitch and YouTube instead of TV or radio, it technically meets all the legal definitions of a broadcaster: it’s a “linear information and communication service” aimed at the public, with an editorial focus and not meant for personal purposes. Channel founder Peter Smits is respecting the decision, so there isn’t going to be a fight.
And importantly, this isn’t a one-off case. Officials see this as setting an example that could apply to other livestreams that fit the terms. While they’d like to see legislation that specifically regulates internet streams, they’ve decided to apply existing law in the meantime.
The problem, of course, is that this isn’t a modest request for most people. On top of the usual paperwork, streamers are looking at a cost of between €1,000 to €10,000 ($1,080 to $10,800). That’s relatively trivial for a TV station, but it’s a lot more intimidating for someone streaming video from home. And there’s also the question of what else falls under this regulation. Would shorter streams and on-demand video also qualify? There’s a chance that German internet users will have to think very carefully before they go live.