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The OBS project has accused Streamlabs of copying their name and trademark (twitter.com/obsproject)
541 points by vopi 62 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 89 comments

This is kind of an amazing implosion all at once on Twitter. The OBS Project accused Streamlabs of this after another streaming company, Lightstream, noted that Streamlabs had copy-and-pasted a marketing page from their product to use for Streamlabs' product, down to word-for-word copies of the "user" recommendations.


And, also in that thread, El Gato -- makers of the hardware Stream Deck -- chimed in with a wry "know that feel," showing that "Streamlabs Stream Deck" was, let's say, strongly reminiscent of their product.


maybe it was coordinated?

Maybe they just finally had the courage to call streamlabs out on this.

You know, I'll admit that this is ignorance on my end, but I honestly thought that Streamlabs was the owner of OBS, in that OBS was just an internal project that they open sourced.

Clearly I'm wrong but I doubt I'm the only person who thought that. Seems like they're being douchebags if they're just taking the offensive and filing predatory trademarks.

You absolutely aren't the only person to think that. The OBS Discord gets a lot of people wandering in for SLOBS help, and a lot of them get mad when people there aren't inclined to.


I thought the same and had a friend say that too a few months ago.

If this is true, the detail that sticks out to me is that before the legal filings StreamLabs thought to reach out about using the name. If StreamLabs thought the names were similar enough that they reached out about using the name, that proves that even from their own former perspective, they're using a mark that was already recognized in the industry and similar enough to their own mark - surely consumers could have the same perspective (many in the comments here were already confused). They also can't claim ignorance. Why should they expect trademark law to now protect the name for them?

The same thing apparently happened with Meta: http://meta.company/.

You meant the company that doesn't have a website other than to complain someone is using their name? I don't buy into the meta.company claims at all with the "evidence" provided. I laughed at this this when it first appeared, and continue laughing at it now

Yes I chose my use of "apparently" and "if this is true" carefully. There is another widely reported instance, better known as Meta PC, filing before Facebook for the mark "Meta", covering "Computers, laptops and portable computers, tablets, computer peripherals, servers, networking equipment, software, computer components, namely, ram, disk drives, namely, hard and optical disk drives, and all related accessories, namely, keyboards, mice, wireless keyboards and mice, speakers, external hard drive backup devices, wireless air cards, wireless routers, monitors, chairs". This is indeed live on the USPTO search right now. That to me sounds like a potential problem.

Not if you have Zuck's Fuck You money financing the cause. Your potential problem just became billable hours for the Army of the Damned-Lawyers.

What? You don't have any more money to keep playing? Please insert $0.25 to continue. No? So sorry, so long, what was yours is now mine, thus it ever was. </ifOnlyThisWereSarcasm>

I did too. There is no way Facebook didn't have the name 100% secured before announcing. This is just another example of journalists not doing their due diligence and Twitter being dumb.

I don't know anything about journalists or Twitter in this case specifically, but I agree flat out Twitter is dumb.

I only know of the meta.company claim from a post made here on HN. I'm guessing it was somebody realizing that FB didn't claim all of the TLDs and trolled them about it. So I laugh at it because of that being a possibility as much as if it is a serious anything I laugh at how laughable their attempt at whatever they are attempting is.

Streamlabs is also almost exactly copying pages from the OBS project website:


Nearly identical titles, nearly identical general page layout, similar graphics.

They even verbatim copied the user testimonial text.

My guess is that they're going to Google Adwords themselves to the top of every relevant google search, and trick even people who have been to the correct OBS Project site into thinking "oh yeah, this is it, I'm in the right place!" and downloading streamlabs-obs.

The OBS pages are copyrighted, so it seems to me like OBS Project should be able to hit Streamlabs' web providers with some DMCA complaints.

That site have nothing to do with OBS really that is a separate project.



Ah, yep, you're right. Unfortunately, I apparently can't edit my comment to correct this. Lovely.

On HN, you can edit or delete comments for a little while after posting them, and after that they're locked in.

I believe the limit is two hours.

Well the queen of Twitch has spoken so it will be sorted out


She is threatening to collect her donations somewhere else. Brutal.

Putting her money where her mouth is. And Pokimane does have some pull in the streaming community, so this could hurt Streamlabs quite a bit financially

> Streamlabs is free to use, we do not charge any fees and there is no monthly price. Please note that some services such as PayPal or Stripe charge their own fees that they collect separately. We do not charge you any additional fees on tips & donations.

> Each tip viewers make will be 100% yours, excluding standard processing fees from credit cards.

You have to be making money out of something to lose it when it goes away. They will however miss pokinanes $5.99 a month pro subscription.

Will she leave and pay 5%++ to another donation provider (twitch: a $2 donation now results in the streamer receiving only $1.45 -- PayPal: A $1 tip will now only net you $0.48) on the millions a year in donations the multi-millionaire rakes in from non multi-millionaire viewers? Only time will tell.

Streamlabs is set up in a way that it's super easy to sign up for their pro thing by accident while donating to a streamer.

Their business model is "refund the complaints"

Considering Pokimane went out of her way to upper-cap donations to a fiver I doubt she's concerned with losing money from this

Who is she?

Arguably the biggest Twitch streamer and the face of Twitch used in a lot of ads and promos. Also a Streamlabs partner, so good for her to call them out


> Arguably the biggest Twitch streamer

This person is #39 on this list [1] which shows earnings from ~2 years up till Oct 2021. She is arguably a top100 streamer, but I wouldn't use these heavy wordings of 'biggest Twitch streamer' cause I am sure there's going to be fans of various of these top100 personae who claim such.

[1] https://twitch.pages.dev/

She's the 8th most followed Twitch streamer, and the most followed female Twitch streamer [1].

She doesn't score as high in most other metrics, so there are certainly more channels with a claim to "biggest (female) Twitch streamer" depending on how you look at it.

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_most-followed_Twitch_c...

So parent is right. Message above said nothing of "female" twitch streamer, it said biggest streamer period, which is flat out wrong.

Maybe you can measure media presence, or use by Twitch PR, and make her come out on top. But yeah, calling her "biggest twitch streamer, period" is iffy, both because it's not obviously true and because there's no agreed upon metric to find a single biggest twitch streamer.

That's because she famously limited donations.

The numbers on the list only include Twitch related payments (subscribers, ad deployments and "bits"), so donations are not included in any way.

The female face of twitch, yes.

XQC and others regularly pull 5x the concurrent viewership

DrDisRespect was the face of twitch until they banned him.

Oh cool, she’s Moroccan! Thanks for the link.

This is why it is important to trademark names in your FOSS projects

Very few non-corporate FOSS projects would have the funds to file a trademark, especially an international one considering one can be infringed from anywhere around the world. And time spent on filing would be time not advancing the actual project, unless a lawyer is hired, which makes it even more expensive.

Even fewer would have the resources to actually pursue legal action if the trademark is infringed upon.

This is probably not a realistic suggestion for all but a few hundred projects.


Trademarks don't need to be registered and many trademarks simply exist through active use.

However, your second paragraph is the key one. While trademarks don't need to be registered (and, in any case, trademark registrations are mostly on a country by country basis) it's pretty much on you to spend the money to defend your trademark if you want to do so. No one's going to do it for you.

It costs less than $2,500 to file trademarks in the US, EU and UK which is plenty of coverage. OBS has received hundreds of thousands in funding, from YouTube, Twitch and Facebook as well as smaller patrons.

Maybe $5,000 if you're talking about high-touch legal help or the trademarks are dicey.

$2,500 would be about the average monthly gross income of a person earning $15/hr. And in terms of expendable income, that's an order of magnitude away of what people can shell out.

It costs significantly more to defend your trademark. Registering your trademark is pointless if you can't also defend it.

Doesn't it at least protect you from someone else registering it and then suing you?

Not really. Registering, yes, but you can sue anybody at any time. You might lose but it doesn't prevent you from suing.

If you hold a trademark you are obligated to defend it. If you don't others can void it.

> but you can sue anybody at any time

This is enough of a problem that anti-SLAPP laws have been passed in several jurisdictions. Those laws only go so far, though (and you still need to mount a defence of some description)

OBS is the #10 most popular project on Open Collective[1] (plus other donations), so yeah, it is one of the top-earning FOSS projects that can afford it.

[1] https://opencollective.com/discover

When StreamLabs came out with SLOBS, OBS didn't even have an OpenCollective or Patreon. They were still getting off the ground.

Including $50,000 from the owners of Streamlabs, Logitech

For what it's worth, Logitech made that contribution well before they bought Streamlabs

Maybe they too were confused and thought they were cutting a cheque to a subsidary, not a different OS project? ;)

Interesting it was transferred in May 2019 and they bought Streamlabs in September 2019. I had not seen that.

Perhaps they were confused about the association between projects as well.

I would rather put the blame on Streamlabs for using the name without permission than on OBS for not having registered a trademark.

Yes, I mean even without Trademark this is fraud as they deceive the buyer of their product about what their product is.

OBS is probably well-known enough to have decent trademark rights just based on marketplace awareness [1]. You don't technically need a registered trademark if everyone recognizes your name (though it does help)

1: https://www.worldtrademarkreview.com/united-states-strong-ri...

For example, when someone would bundle OBS with a virus and create a fake website with OBS logo and everything, one could sue them for c̶o̶p̶y̶r̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ trademark infringement. They would still be allowed to do that with FOSS software, but would need to create their own reputation.

Edit: Not copyright -> trademark

I think you mean suing for trademark infringement (because FOSS has permissive copyright), or am I just confused?

FOSS doesn't really have permissive copyright though. You can't claim to be the author of a FOSS work that is not your own, even if it uses a permissive license. The license and the copyright are somewhat orthogonal.

Yes thanks, I fixed it :)

It’s not that easy, it only takes a few overzealous lawyers to end up with the drama we had with Firefox and Iceweazel.

The point of open source is that you can modify it. But can you modify it and still call it the same name? If so, how much can you modify it?

Plenty of open source license recognize this, e.g. from the zlib license:

> 2. Altered source versions must be plainly marked as such, and must not be misrepresented as being the original software.

True! But what does ‘altered’ mean? And what does ‘not be misrepresented’ mean?

If I patch the Linux kernel and compile it, can I call it the Linux kernel?

If Streamlabs patches OBS, can they call it Streamlabs OBS?

There really isn’t a straightforward answer.

I legit thought OBS and Streamlabs where connected

Streamlabs would like that very much. I wrote them a zesty email about pretending they (Streamlabs) created OBS and continue to control it as a sub-asset of Streamlabs. In fact, Streamlabs is entirely seperable.

Same here, was fairly new to OBS this year and I downloaded both thinking they were slightly different products from the same team.

Honestly, I had no idea what the relationship was. I just assumed it was all kosher and there was a connection between them that was brokered long before I started messing around with streaming. Luckily I thought OBS was the better long-term bet and uninstalled the other one after comparing.

This appears to be the trademark in question:


In response someone likely affiliated with OBS filed their own trademark, though that was abandoned:


Happy to see this on the front page. What scumbaggery.

That's the Open(SUSE) Build System, right? ;)

Nowadays its name is just Open Build System :)

Unfortunately it still is mostly the openSUSE build service in practice. I wish canonical switched Launchpad's PPA system to OBS or at least added automatic rebuilds on dependency changes to their own system.

Well, I use OBS to build Debian packages at work. But I guess companies want to have their own shiny thing, even if it is inferior to other solutions.

The first thing I thought of. Apparently not.

It's one of the biggest issues I have with the public/open source community; it is too naive and permissive in dealing with corporate entities (and government entities, for that matter) for whom there simply is no such thing as spirit and the only thing that matters to their lawyers and corporate psychopath executives is the letter and what they can get away with or even what resistance to abuse they have the power/money to crush.

Isn't something similar playing out with Mastadon and that other guy's website?

This is some big news, I do appreciate that this is on the front page.

Can someone explain what OBS is? And yeah, some rando tried to trademark "Linux" some years back, lol. After a fair amount of hassle it ended up getting transferred to Linus Torvalds, which I guess was the best solution.

It's the solution to the "Unregistered HyperCam 2" problem.

In simplified words, it's a screen recording software that also lets you stream to twitch and other streaming portals. In practice it does way more than that though.

that's like saying Word lets you create a text document, but in practice it does way more than that though.

..which is true?

maybe, but if you asked me "What is Word", and I replied "you can make a text document with it" would be not a very useful answer.

Sadly, most people just scratch the surface of what OBS can really do. If you really want to dig in to it, it is has the capabilities of a TV Broadcasting Studio for the financially constrained yet fanatically devoted to the cause level of features. I have used it in place of a TriCaster. I find myself constantly amazed at the things that can be achieved with this software to the point that I shake my head and think this shouldn't be possible. And then grin as other people think it was done in a studio.

So, yes, this thing can make a text document.

OBS is a live / real time compositing system. It allows you do to quite sophisticated overlays, transitions, etc. You can think of it as the open source version of what traditional tv channels use to do all their on screen stuff. It's a real gem of the open source world.

OBS is software for producing and streaming live video content.

Arguably THE open source software that revolutionized screen recording and live streaming. Not just software.

To be fair, Xsplit (closed source) was the one that was there as streaming got established, though OBS has taken over these days by being better and free (as in beer - though also being open source obviously helped get there).

And although OBS is most well known for being incredible streaming software, the fact that it can handle smooth video recording from games too (since once you have streaming you can pretty easily have recording too) means it's also displaced other video recording software such as Fraps, which used to be the go-to tool when recording games.

Wirecast has existed since at least 2008, with most of the same core compositing and switching functionality we see in the space, although originally Wirecast did not support RTMP. It was originally only able to stream to QuickTime RTSP servers and Windows Media Server.

XSplit emerged slightly before OBS Classic but OBS innovated with a far superior game capture implementation on Windows, supporting shared texture hooking across D3D8-D3D11 and OpenGL, which helped it gain massive traction with the Twitch crowd. After retaining a large user base it was eventually rewritten as the cross-platform OBS Studio.

While that is its main use, it's also great for recorded video content.

Yes, these years it seems like this is the de-facto screen recorder tool.

"Open Broadcaster Software" -> https://obsproject.com

For quick recordings, the screen recorder built into the Xbox Game Bar (Win+G) also does the job.

Why Microsoft decided to put this functionality only in the Game Bar (and not also in, say, the Snipping Tool) is anyone's guess...

Thanks, and interesting. I had never heard of it before. I'm not really into video, but have used ffmpeg and icecast for that sort of thing, which worked but were very crude compared to what I see on youtube and the like.

> ffmpeg and icecast Yeah for a server/embedded solution those are probably better to use for simple setup?

But desktop usecase, OBS is pretty much a gold standard.

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