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Streaming: data transmission in the legal gray area

From, last update on: May 16, 2021

NOTE! So far, users of illegal streaming sites have been able to access security weigh, because as a rule, action was only taken against the operators of the platforms such as However, due to a current ruling by the European Court of Justice (Ref .: C-527/15), this could change in the future. Warning waves are unlikely, however, since in most cases so far the IP address not saved becomes.

The Modern technology makes it possible: Favorite series can be viewed regardless of the day of the week or the time of day and millions of song titles are available anytime, anywhere. The process behind this media revolution is called Streaming.

Streaming FAQ

Is streaming a criminal offense?

According to the current status, streaming users do not have to reckon with any legal consequences. However, the copyright infringements are being prosecuted by the operators.

Is streaming movies illegal?

It is usually not illegal to watch these films. However, the legal situation can still change, so that, for example, sanctions may be imposed on current cinema streams. Because in the case of films that are only just showing in the cinema or that have not yet had a premiere in the respective country, the user must assume that these files have an illegal origin. However, this scenario is only one of many possibilities.

How can I stream legally?

By using reputable and often paid streaming portals, a copyright infringement can usually be ruled out. This is because these portals have acquired the rights of use for this form of exploitation and also pay fees to the collecting societies (for example to GEMA).

Are there ways to be completely on the safe side when streaming?

Serious providers such as Spotify or Netflix only provide data for which they have licenses, so the author has consented to this form of exploitation. Contributions to GEMA or other collecting societies also ensure that the author is financially rewarded. One hundred percent security will probably only exist when a corresponding law is passed.

What is streaming?

Origin of the term "Streaming" is the English word "stream". This term from the field of computer science generally describes a constant sequence of records, the so-called data streams. Streaming refers to the Data transfer process per se.

Such a stream makes it possible to play entire films or even music on the Internet without having to download it completely. This technique is also called Real-time transmission referred to because it usually too no major delay in playback the media comes.

As already mentioned, there is a need for streaming - the word is also used in German "Stream" Use - an internet connection. Nowadays, many televisions have WiFi. It should be noted that for a interference-free playback the Internet performance must be higher than the transmission rate of the respective medium to be played.

Streaming is considered In contrast to the classic download, the aim of which is to generate a copy of the corresponding medium and to store it on the user's computer. This also clearly distinguishes it from file sharing, which is due to the Reproduction and distribution of mostly copyrighted data is illegal.

Technical basics for streaming

When streaming media becomes like songs or videos played back directly, a previous download is not necessary. In order to ensure trouble-free playback, part of the Data temporarily cached on the computer. This information and files will be deleted after playback.

The temporary data are used for the so-called Intermediate buffering in the cache deposited. This buffer memory is expensive Recalculations and delays in playback the media prevented.

To enable streaming at all, the raw Data prepared for playback become. This procedure is called Encode denotes and leads to a necessary for the transfer Compression. At the same time, the material is enriched with the necessary information that ensures trouble-free retrieval.

By a corresponding playback software this additional information can be read out which the Stream music or videos enables.

Types of streaming

Streaming is done in two types differentiated: live streaming and on-demand streaming.

The Live stream will almost generated, sent and received at the same time. Small delays only arise when the data packets are processed and sent. The provision thus takes place Real time instead of. Because of this, most of the time no buffering possible and there may be disruptions during playback due to fluctuations in the Internet connection.

The live stream is used, for example, at the Transmission of the current television program via the Internet, when broadcasting sporting events - different perspectives can thus be selected for soccer games - and also during the Video telephony.

The On demand streaming is known to many mainly because of the many video-on-demand portals and media libraries. The term "on-demand" literally means "on demand" and thus describes the underlying concept. Because the data is and can be made available on a server accessed by users as needed become.

The user can freely use the Time of transfer decide and usually choose from a wide range of content. The buffer memory ensures, on the one hand, interference-free playback and, on the other hand, enables it there too Fast forward, rewind and pause Meanwhile.

Media as a stream

By streaming and using on-demand portals, the user can from sheer endless videos, films and songs select - as long as there is a connection to the Internet - regardless of the regular broadcast. More and more users are ready for this kind of freedom paid services to subscribe and to bind to individual streaming portals.

The following are intended to do this Stream movies and music be considered more closely.

Streaming is not just used for entertainment purposes. Lectures and teaching units at schools and universities are made available to a wider audience through this technical possibility or enable students to participate in seminars regardless of the size of the rooms.

The cinema is accessible anywhere and anytime via stream

As a representative survey on behalf of the digital association Bitkom shows, use 77% of German internet users over 14 years of age the opportunity to watch films, series or other videos online via stream.

Above all, they enjoy great popularity free video portals, which also include Youtube. Through the active exchange via the comments as well as by the possibility of your own Upload sequences and sharing it with people around the world creates a modern way of communication.

The television stations also put in so-called Media libraries Programs already broadcast on TV and live streams are available. However, the videos only stay there for one limited period - usually a week or two - online. With these additional offers on the Internet, viewers are no longer tied to fixed broadcasting times.

The Bitkom survey also shows that the use of the On-demand portals increases more and more. In 2016, 25% of those surveyed stated that they use them at least from time to time. However, in this context there must also be between Providers with legal and illegal content be differentiated.

For providers such as Netflix, Maxdome, Amazon Video, Apple iTunes or Google Play are paid memberships necessary to stream series and movies. The respective authors and rights holders have consented to the distribution via stream and usually receive one depending on the number of reproductions financial reward.

This is countered by portals such as or The streams made available here are usually illegal pirated copies, which among other things by the Bypassing an existing copy protection have arisen. Many users of these sites are well aware that films that are currently being shown in the cinema are not also available for free and legally on the Internet at the same time. With legal consequences However, according to the current status, only the operator and thus expect the perpetrators of the copyright infringement.

What as Stream on the internet is generally viewed by the participants in the Bitkom survey, the following graphic shows:

Video streaming

Media libraries (programs were already on TV)60 %
Video portals (Youtube & Co.)56 %
Live streams (current TV program in real time)39 %
On-demand portals (films and series on demand)25 %
Some paid providers offer one so that users can access the content without permanent internet access Offline mode at. This makes it possible to watch the movie stream on vacation or on the train.

Music streaming: on the go with 20 million songs

When streaming music, the two options mentioned above also exist. On the one hand, the Live stream from radio stations can be used. In this context, the so-called Internet radios spoken. With this free version, the user usually has several stations with different musical styles available, but he has no influence on the songs played or their order.

On the other hand, there is through Music on demand services the ability to choose from a database of up to 20 million songs to pick out your own favorite songs and put them together as you wish. Many services offer both a free and a paid version, with the paid version being ad-free.

The spread and also the number of providers at Streaming music are growing steadily, which is why the market in Germany is competitive. The most famous portals include Spotify, Deezer, Napster and Simfy.

Analogous to the streaming of films, you need one for undisturbed music enjoyment constant and at the same time fast internet connection. This is necessary because not all providers provide an offline mode.

Which law or statute applies to streaming?

It should be noted in advance that the streaming legally moved in a gray area. Definitive and no final court rulings are available at the moment and have been waiting for years.

For this reason, the following should clarify which laws apply and how they are Legal situation for streaming influence.

Streaming and Copyright

Copyright protects the Author and his work. This protection also includes aspects such as unintentional copying, distribution or publication. Because only the author can decide on the exploitation of his creation. These rights are enshrined in Copyright Act (UrhG).

The following list shows which Rights the UrhG at works among other things provides:

Moral rights:

  • Publication right
  • Acknowledgment of authorship
  • Distortion of the work

Exploitation rights:

  • Right of reproduction
  • Distribution right
  • Exhibition right
  • Lecture, performance and presentation rights
  • Right of making available to the public
  • Broadcast right
  • Right to reproduce radio broadcasts and make them available to the public

From this list, in terms of streaming, the Publication right and the right of reproduction to be relevant.

Publication right

The Publication right grants the author the opportunity to decide for himself when and in what form he wants his work open to the public would like to. Due to large promotions, this right is particularly important when it comes to film premieres.

If series or films are made available in the respective country before their official release, this is often a question of Pirated copiesillegally obtained and published. The author can take responsibility for the losses caused by this publication damages demand. However, this requirement is aimed at the operators of the portals and not at the users.

Right of reproduction

According to UrhG, one of duplication the consent of the author is necessary, so that this may also be done accordingly financially rewarded becomes. The author can exercise the right of reproduction through the Sale of licenses but also have it recycled by other people or companies. Legal and reputable streaming portals thus acquire the right to provide the films or music titles.

Whether streaming is a Form of reproduction is legally controversial and the crux of the matter for that uncertain legal situation. Because by using a buffer for a trouble-free playback of the media in the cache a copy is made for a short time. Proponents of the legality of streaming rely on this § 44a UrhG, because this says to temporary acts of reproduction:

Temporary acts of reproduction that are volatile or accompanying and represent an integral and essential part of a technical process and whose sole purpose is

  1. a transmission in a network between third parties through an intermediary or
  2. a lawful use

of a work or other subject matter of protection, and which have no independent economic significance.

Exist for this paragraph diverse design options and at the same time it also raises questions. Is the Use of the cache technically really necessary or does this only enable better quality playback? How's the part about economic importance to be assessed when millions of users consume films or music online instead of buying them or watching them in the cinema? And is streaming even one "Lawful use"? Only when the legislator has clearly answered these questions can it be definitely clarified whether Streaming legal or illegal is.

If you want to stream films legally, you usually have to access the paid on-demand portals can be used. Because blockbusters and movies are available as a stream in the Media libraries only rarely available, or if so, then only for a limited time.

Warning for streaming

In the event of a copyright infringement, a lawyer usually sends a warning. It is a Measure to avoid processesthat are in civil right Applies. Warnings meet the same multiple tasks:

  • Warning function
  • Dispute resolution function
  • Cost avoidance function

Through the Warning function the recipient of the warning will have a unlawful conduct informed. It is important that this behavior is clearly identified.

The author's pursuit of a out of court settlement is through the Dispute resolution function made clear in the warning.

At the same time, the Expenses of a court hearing bypassed. This is also called the Cost avoidance function designated.

How is a warning structured and what does it contain?

In general, a warning is a informal writing, which can be sent as a letter, fax or e-mail. Mostly wise Warning letter in copyright law have a similar structure and include the following Components:

  • Specific naming of the persons or parties involved
  • Power of attorney from the lawyer commissioned by the other party
  • Authorization of the warning:
    • Legal regulations
    • Description of copyright infringement
  • Request for omission and request for a cease and desist declaration
  • Setting reasonable deadlines
  • Threat of judicial action

Can a warning be issued because of a stream?

As already mentioned before, the users of streams move in a legal gray area. However, people who only watch movies via streaming are expected to be up-to-date no sanctions. However, a definitive statement can only be made once the legal situation has been clearly clarified when streaming.

This uncertainty makes itself felt dubious business people to use and so users always find one Warning about the stream of a film in mailbox. These are letters that are primarily intended to Intimidating recipients and push for a quick payment.

Such an unjustified one Streaming warning is often sent by email and usually looks like this:

Subject: [Streaming-Portal ABC] Copyright infringement at work (cinema film ABC)


Dear [Benno example],
The subject of our commission is a copyright infringement committed by your internet connection at the work [cinema film ABC]. Our client [ABC Kinofilm GmbH] has the exclusive right to reproduce this work (§§ 16, 94 f. UrhG). This right was violated by streaming the work in question over your Internet connection.

The investigation company commissioned by our client was able to determine the following data and legally save it as evidence:
Date / time: [xx.xx.xxxx / xx: xx: xx]
IP address: []
Work: [Cinema ABC]
Streaming provider: [Streaming-Portal ABC]

Our client has therefore asked your Internet provider for information in accordance with Section 101 (9) UrhG at the regional court [example city]. For this incident, the regional court affirmed both the legal ownership and the proper recording of the infringement and the functionality of the investigation software. In the resolution with the file number [xxx / xx], your Internet service provider was given permission to surrender your data.

The intermediate storage that is technically necessary when streaming the mentioned work represents a reproduction according to § 16 UrhG and is exclusively available to the author or the rights holder. It does not matter whether the work is saved permanently or only temporarily. Therefore, our clients have a right to injunctive relief and compensation against you (§ 97 UrhG).

Due to the assignment of the above-mentioned IP address to your Internet connection, there is prima facie evidence that the owner is responsible for the infringement. As part of the secondary burden of presentation and proof, you must present and prove that sufficient security measures have been taken to secure your WLAN connection. The unauthorized reproduction of works protected by copyright is also punished with a prison sentence of up to 3 years in accordance with Section 106 UrhG.

In the name and on the authority of our client, we hereby request you to delete any illegal copy that may still be present from your computer immediately. Furthermore, we ask you to make a cease and desist declaration to our client in order to eliminate the risk of repetition, for the receipt of which in our office a deadline was noted by [xx.xx.xxxx] at the latest.

According to Section 97a, Paragraph 3 of the Copyright Act, you are still entitled to a refund. You have to reimburse our client for the damage caused by the unauthorized use, which we put here at [xx.xx euros]. Furthermore, you have to reimburse the costs of the investigation company for the determination of the legal infringement, the court costs of the proceedings before the regional court [example city] and the proportionate applications that were to be reimbursed to your provider in accordance with § 101 Para. For this, [xx, xx euros] are to be set. The reimbursable costs of our engagement are measured in accordance with the Lawyers' Remuneration Act (RVG) and are quantified as follows:

Item value: [xxxx, xx euros]
Business fee (No. 2030 VV RV): [xxx.xx euros]
Expenses: [xx.xx euros]
Compensation: [xxx.xx euros]
Expenditure for investigations: [xx.xx euros]

If the aforementioned requirements are not met or not fully met on time, I must recommend that my client take legal action immediately. We expressly reserve the right to make further claims.

You can see the evidence files as well as the account details and our contact details in the attached file.

With best regards
Lawyer [sample]

Justified warnings against users of streaming portals are not known at this point in time. A Prosecution takes place against the Operator of the illegal websites instead, who illegally publish and distribute the works online.

Streaming - short and compact

Streaming is a Real-time transmission, especially from movies and music. The basic requirement is one existing internet connection at sufficient speed. The technology of streaming moves in one legal gray area, however, users do not have to expect legal consequences at this point in time.

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Streaming: data transmission in the legal gray area
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