Locating Legality Of Video Game Streaming In Indian Copyright Act
By Gaurav Dahiya, Indian Law Institute, New Delhi.*
The video game streaming industry is witnessing an unprecedented boom, growing at nearly 25% each year. Online game streamers such as Ninja and Pewdiepie have achieved unprecedented fame. This growth has coincided with the growth of E-sports in general, characterised by its inclusion in the 2023 Asian Games. But for a very long time, the question of copyright infringement has loomed over the video game streaming industry like a dark cloud. Around the world there is confusion as to whether streaming a playthrough of a video game constitutes fair use under the copyright exemptions or not. This paper will address this problem and offer a possible solution. Through a doctrinal methodology, this paper asserts that India is in a unique position compared to jurisdictions around the world as the Copyright Act 1957 already provides for a fair dealing exemption for video game streaming. Specifically, the solution may lie in section 52(1)(aa)(i), which allows for making an adaptation of a computer programme (in this case, the video game) for the purpose for which it was supplied read with section 39(c) which allows broadcasts of adaptations which qualify for section 52 protection.
To substantiate this assertion, this paper will analyse whether streaming a play through of a video game corresponds to an adaptation of the video game. Next, the paper will analyse the fair dealing provisions in section 52 which relate to use of computer software, and refer to judgments which have dealt with its scope. The paper will then demonstrate how the conjoint reading of section 52(1)(aa)(i) and 39(c) can provide protection to video game streamers in India.
Keywords: Video Game, Streaming, Fair Dealing, Broadcast Rights, Copyright Infringement.
* The author is a LL.M. Candidate at Indian Law Institute, New Delhi.