Membership

Overview

In Germany, content providers must comply with the obligations of the Youth Media Protection State Agreement (JMStV). This includes providers and developers of games, videos, vendors of online or retail media or operators of news portals for potentially harmful media contents (for example game trailers or movies). For companies it’s not easy to differ between mandatory legal requirements and unnecessary high restrictions for users. This is where the USK comes for your help.

JMStV-Basic Package
Everything you need to know about online youth protection regulations in Germany for all online content provided by your company. Both holes/gaps and over-restrictive barriers will be conveyed by the USK. The Basic Package comes with concrete recommendations for implementation – without any resulting obligations toward the USK.
More Information.

USK-Membership
Members of the USK do not have to worry about trials and tribulations regarding youth protection regulations in Germany anymore. Experts of the German Age Rating Board will develop a suited youth protection concept for all of your domains and – if desired – will take over all other responsibilities for you, e.g. the USK can act as a Youth Protection Representative for your company. You can find a list of all members of the USK here.
More Information.

General consulting is also being offered by the USK regardless of Membership and Basic Package. Whether you are interested in the basics of youth protection requirements in general or concrete analysis of certain contents (Games, Videos, Domains), the Consulting Department of the USK will find a solution for your demands.

JMStV-Basic Package

For international providers it is not and has never been easy to decide which kind of youth protection relevance certain contents have with respect to the German youth protection regulations for online content. Certain types of content, e.g. sexual references, may be classified lower – other types of content, e.g. violence, may be classified higher than in other countries. The Basic Package of the USK therefore delivers a full analysis of all content and youth protection related duties. After the Basic Package, you will have a full overview about legal compliance of your content – and with which measures potential threats can be eliminated.

Execution
After you submitted the form for the JMStV-Basic Package, the German Age Rating Board will assess all of your online contents and check if all content complies in accordance with the Youth Protection State Agreement (JMStV). All different kinds of content will undergo this review: Domains, social networks, apps, console content, TV. Special in-depth sections of the analysis can be arranged individually beforehand.

Completion
The Basic Package results in a 20-25 pages long detailed report in which all outcomes are listed in a clear and comprehensible manner. The report points out all youth protection related areas of concern as well as non-binding recommendations on how to ensure legal compliance without too restrictive or unnecessary user barriers for adult gamers. Any recommendations of the USK will be based on legal regulations but at the same time the actual legal practice for online content will be taken into account.

The Basic Package will also check if your company is eligible for a membership in general. After completion of the report a final conference call will answer open questions and further measures can be agreed upon.

The full analysis can be ordered for 300,- EUR (plus VAT) through this link. Companies which are interested in a permanent and durable youth protection solution for their online content can decide to join the USK after the Basic Package.

Membership

Due to the German Age Rating board being officially acknowledged under the Youth Media Protection State Agreement (JMStV), the USK can act as an effective protective shield between the provider and supervising bodies for its members. Therefore, it releases the provider from liability for the content of his product. Alleged contraventions by members are to be judged first of all by the USK in line with Art. 20, Section 5 of the Youth Media Protection State Agreement. Supervisory measures and fines for regulatory offences against the provider privileged through the membership are not permitted. At the same time your company benefits though optional training sessions, feasibility studies for new projects and from the 20+ years of experience of the USK in the Youth Protection sector.

If you are uncertain if your specific company can benefit from a membership, a Basic Package can help to clarify and check the necessity of legal consulting regarding your online content in Germany.

The compliance of legal regulations and a high youth protection standard of our members are awarded with the USK quality seal. This seal can be integrated into websites or any other offers by your company and can be used for general corporate communication.

Companies can choose between a standard and premium membership option (see cost overview). The following list shows an excerpt of our services for members of the USK:

  • Well-tailored youth protection solutions:
    Every member of the USK receives a customized youth protection concept which fits best for the current online contents of that company. Our claim is to not only enable legal protection, but to ensure youth protection with sense and simplicity.
  • Legal Protection for administrate measurements and fines:
    Members of the USK benefit from our legal prior involvement protection from the German Age Rating Board. German state authorities like the KJM or jugendschutz.net are not allowed to impose any fines and are bound to contact the USK regarding any immanent processes. 
  • Analysis of specific contents:
    Youth relevance levels of any content (game, trailer, reports) can be assessed by experts of the USK. Fast and effective consulting can be given on a daily basis and for every-day questions as well as for in-depth analysis of new online or offline projects in the vast field of game media.
  • Technical consulting and implementation:
    The USK offers technical aid up to fully functional youth protection modules (Age-de.xml-Labeling for acknowledged youth protection software or an ID-Check module) for all kinds of online offers. A formal validation of new technical concepts under the Youth Protection State Treaty is possible as well. 
  • Youth Protection Representative:
    Commercial website providers of contents which are possibly harmful to children or young people must appoint a Youth Protection Representative. The USK can take on this function for its members and offers a full coverage-service as official representative for your company.
  • Best practice guidelines:
    The USK offers different themed guidelines which combine the long experience of the USK in the field of youth protection. They can be used as reference for daily work decisions. For example, they cover different topics like “Youth protection relevance in trailer videos”, “Reporting on indexed Media”; “Gambling in video games” or “Legal regulations in the mail order section”.
  • General training:
    The USK offers many training modules both for singe persons and groups. Possible modules range from full-day training in Berlin to minute-timed training of Product Managers or Video Editors around the world. 
  • Political Engagement:
    Being a federally approved self-regulatory rating board, we continue to work on a political level for an appropriate development of youth protection regulations and support the interests of our members. At the same time, we invest our time into social and media education projects. 
  • Age rating in the classification committee:
    Every company has the right to submit its game to the USK and request a legal binding age rating by the classification committee of the USK. On top of this, members of the USK can submit concrete youth protection measurements and technical solutions and ask for official legal confirmation.

Legal obligations

In Germany youth media protection in online matters is regulated by the Youth Media Protection State Agreement. Since 2003 it has regulated how internet games must be presented in order to exclude negative effects and dangers to children and young people. (Full text of the Youth Media Protection State Agreement)

Referring to USK and FSK ratings

If contents (games, trailers, etc.) which already obtained a USK or FSK age rating are sold via a website (mail order), are directly playable or available for download, the provider must clearly indicate the existing rating (cf. Art. 12 Children and Young Persons Protection Act or Youth Media Protection State Agreement). This indication may be in the form of text or by the illustration of the respective rating label. Here you can find the USK age rating symbols for download.

Distribution restriction of contents

In accordance with the Youth Media Protection State Agreement, providers of online content are responsible for ensuring that "material which is likely to harm the development of children or young people (…)" is not generally perceived by these age groups. Whoever infringes this regulation "may have a fine of up to € 500,000" imposed. This applies not only to games content such as pure online games which can be played directly over the internet or downloadable games, but also to films, texts or images.

This duty is expressed in the Youth Media Protection State Agreement in the following terms:

In material for children, only contents may be made available which do not have negative effects on development for children up to the rating "12 and above" , in other words are rated with "all ages" or "6 and above" (cf. Art. 5, Sect. 5 of the Youth Media Protection State Agreement). If products are not directly aimed at children and are not rated with "16 and above" or "not under 18", they may be offered without distribution restriction. In either case some additional regulations (eg. Youth Protection representative or Youth Protection standards for advertising) can apply.

In order to comply with the legal obligations on prejudicial content "16 and above" and "not under 18" years of age, providers have the following alternative possibilities available (cf.: Art. 5 Sect. 1, 3 and 4 as well as Art. 11 Sect. 1 of the Youth Media Protection State Agreement): 

  • Programming the website for a recognised Youth Protection Program.
  • Using scheduling
    Contents "16 and above" only accessible between 22.00 and 6.00
    Contents "not under 18" only accessible between 23.00 and 6.00
  • Using technical distribution restriction, e.g.: using a positive rated age verification system

Content harmful to young persons, e.g.: pornography, or media on index list, included by the Federal Department for Media Harmful to Young Persons (BPjM) in Lists A and C, may only be disseminated for adults in closed user groups (cf. Art. 4, Sect. 2 of the Youth Media Protection State Agreement). Content which constitutes a criminal offence and is extremely harmful to young persons as described in Art. 4, Sect.1 of the Youth Media Protection State Agreement is generally not permitted to be disseminated.

Apart from these essential, core regulations, further regulations apply, such as youth protection in advertising (Art. 6 of the Youth Media Protection State Agreement).

Appointing a Youth Protection Representative

Commercial website providers of contents which are possibly harmful to children or young people must appoint a Youth Protection Representative. This person must possess the necessary skills and knowledge required on this field, advise providers on designing their web offerings in line with legislation and act as the contact person for users and supervising bodies (cf. Art. 7 Youth Media Protection State Agreement). The USK can take on this function for its members.

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Contact

You have more questions regarding the USK Basic Package or our Membership? We are glad to help.

Phone: +49 30 240 8866 0

Send an E-Mail

What is the JMStV?

Since 2003, the Youth Media Protection State Agreement (JMStV) defines the legal framing of youth protection regulations for online content in Germany. Companies which offer computer and video games or other media that might be harmful for children or young adults must comply with these regulations. Focus parts of online contents can be:  

  • Online games
  • Websites
  • Trailer
  • Social networks
  • Mobile offers
  • Proprietary systems (consoles, TV)
  • User generated content
  • Advertising
  • Links

You can find the full text of the Youth Media Protection State Agreement here. More Information regarding legal obligations can be found here.

JMStV-Basic Package

The Basic Package check for all of your online content can be applied for using this submission form.

Apply for Basic Package

Membership