Music Industry Claims Twitch’s Soundtrack Feature Is Not Fully Licensed

by in Entertainment | Oct, 28th 2020

Eighteen organizations in the music industry penned an open letter to Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, and Emmett Shear, CEO of Twitch. If what they say is true, then the new Soundtrack feature on Twitch is not fully licensed. They’re appalled by Twitch’s allowance of streaming music without several large labels permission/authorization. It’s tough to feel bad for the music industry, given all of the DMCA claims shot at streamers large and small.

The music industry condemns Twitch and how they’ve approached this, but what do they have to say? Twitch stated they made music synchronization licenses and mechanic licenses that are not needed to use their Soundtrack service. But according to the music industry at large, Twitch isn’t doing the right thing.

The Real Victims: Sony Music, Warner Music, Universal Music

Those three are the real victims here, not content creators trying to preserve their beautiful memories on Twitch. Instead, it’s the music labels that have been heartlessly victimized by Twitch. Twitch does have some of these songs that are licensed thanks to independent labels. The open letter points out that three music labels (Sony, Warner, Universal) do not have licenses to use some of the Soundtrack service songs.

“We are also deeply disappointed that Twitch continues to allow and enable its streamers to use our respective members’ music without authorization, in violation of Twitch’s music guidelines,” the letter stated. “We are further concerned that Twitch continues to host and widely make available unlicensed music on its platform despite the company’s announcements, most recently in June 2020, that it would remove such unlicensed music.”

Eighteen organizations signed this letter, including the American Association of Independent Music, the Music Managers Forum, the National Music Publishers Association, the Recording Industry Association of America, and the SAG-AFTRA. But what did Twitch say in response? Twitch spoke to Variety, who initially broke this news, saying the Soundtrack service is a “fully licensed service.”

Twitch went on to say they support the music industry through royalties and licensing fees and added that it’s partnered with labels, distributors, publishers, and such to provided opportunities for musicians on Twitch. Twitch also applies to all DMCA notifications and removes the content as soon as they get the DMCA notification.

Well, we can say for sure that Twitch has reacted to DMCA claims. Thousands of videos and clips have been deleted by Twitch earlier this month if they used copyrighted music material. We do know they have certainly put some effort in. Mitch Glazier, RIAA chairman and CEO, also responded to Twitch’s claim, pointing out that their response in no way responds to the statements made in the open letter. Twitch is neglecting artists’ rights and exploiting them without due compensation allegedly.

Twitch? Doing something underhanded and shady? There’s no way they’ve ever been accused of that before.

“Twitch continues to turn a blind eye to the same users repeatedly violating the law while pocketing the proceeds of massive unlicensed uses of recorded music,” Glazier said. “For working songwriters and performers, fair royalties on a growing platform like Twitch can literally be a matter of life and death — the difference between having a place to live and homelessness and having access to health care or being uninsured. For others, it’s the difference between being able to work as an artist or having to give up a lifetime of dreams.”

Now, where do we stand on this? It’s hard to say. We have no way of knowing if Twitch truly has the licenses to use all of the music in the Soundtrack mode. It may be better not to use it at all for the time being, though, just in case. We don’t want you to be punished for using it sometime in the future. That said, it’s hard for us again to feel sorry for powerhouses like the music industry, alleging problems with Twitch.

If what these groups say is true, Twitch should go out of their way to ensure there are no actual licensing issues. We have a feeling that this problem is far from over. Where do you stand on this issue? Feel free to let us know on social media!


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