Twitch Issues Massive DMCA Wave Causing Panic Among Streamers
Streaming giant Twitch has been notified that companies are starting to take serious action against them for use of licensed music being used on their streams. This warning rolled downhill unceremoniously to their streamer userbase, who all got an email saying that several of their videos had been copyright claimed, and that (just this once) it would be treated as a warning while the offending content would be deleted.
This was done with no notice to streamers, many of whom lost hours footage from their Twitch streams without any recourse. The notices also were not specific at all, meaning that many of Twitch’s loyal users have absolutely no idea what they were being copyright stricken for.
“We are writing to inform you that your channel was subject to one or more of these DMCA takedown notifications, and that the content identified has been deleted,” Twitch said in an email sent to several streamers. “We recognize that by deleting this content, we are not giving you the option to file a counter-notification or seek a retraction from the rights holder. In consideration of this, we have processed these notifications and are issuing you a one time warning to give you the chance to learn about copyright law and the tools available to manage the content on your channel.”
Streamers Respond With Outrage
As expected, streamers were not even remotely happy about the DMCA notifications from Twitch, despite the leniency in deleting content rather than issuing strikes. This caused content that people were archiving to be deleted, like Zain’s Smash Melee combo videos:
Many noted that copyright holders will be able to abuse this system without recourse, especially from those that already hold the license to use certain music on their streams. The automated system for this just isn’t ready to be used at this scale, with Twitch’s own systems for submitting a ticket in their infancy compared to something like YouTube’s.
“The super dangerous thing here is if you specifically have rights to music and you receive a DMCA from Twitch,” Ms5000watts said on Twitter. “There’s ZERO ways for you to know what music it is or refute it and show you have the right licensing etc. that’s ridiculous and ripe for abuse of twitch DMCA.”
Another problem – Twitch is home to thousands of video game streams per month. Many popular titles include licensed music, such as Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 HD. These songs still require a license to be listened to on stream, meaning streamers will have to play the game with it muted, even though it’s a pretty crucial part of the experience.
“If this DMCA is serious as Twitch is making it out to be, then they need to provide a list of games we can stream,” FGC legend Alex Valle said on Twitter. “All games have music and we can’t tell if they’re eligible or against their policy.”
A Needed Change Handled Poorly
Ultimately these policy changes were likely needed from Twitch, which has made headlines for clear and consistent growth over the years. These are the same sorts of growing pains YouTube went through when copyright holders discovered how much of their content was being viewed on the site for free. However, the methodology of Twitch, in this case, needs to be scrutinized. Why aren’t they stalling for more time to protect their streamers while they develop a system to recognize copyright infringement on streams and give streamers protections from companies that may look to abuse that system? Twitch uses a three-strike system for DMCA takedowns, and many streamers may not even be aware they are at risk.
“We know that copyright law and the DMCCA are confusing,” Twitch explained in their email to streamers. “Over the past few months, we’ve been improving the tools available to help you manage music use in your live and recorded content. These include the ability to delete all of your clips at once and control who can make Clips on your channel, scanning new clips with Audible Magic, and launching a free way to stream high quality music on your channel, Soundtrack by Twitch.”
As a result of all of these new tools being released to streamers, Twitch is looking to resume normal DMCA operations on October 23, giving streamers only two days to modify how they approach audio on their streams. Much of the complaints around Twitch’s music choice is just that there isn’t enough variety. It also doesn’t address music streams that constantly cover licensed music, either.
In any case, many streamers are looking to be at risk if they don’t double check their work, and it will ultimately end up hurting the streaming experience as streamers are forced to use more and more stock music and mute audio in their games.