SAN FRANCISCO — Twitch is acknowledging the fault of the ways when handling the ongoing Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) controversy. For several years, streamers were put at risk of losing their accounts due to playing licensed music during their broadcasts. However, streamers aren’t out of the woods yet. The gamer-oriented streaming platform is strongly recommending not playing licensed music during streams. This is due to ongoing negotiations between Twitch, which is owned by Amazon, and record labels.
In a detailed blog post and a subsequent email sent out Wednesday, the company explains DMCA after many streamers would hit with takedown notices en mass during the summer. They would explain that it was not a major issue previously.
“Until May of this year, streamers received fewer than 50 music-related DMCA notifications each year on Twitch,” the company states. “Beginning in May, however, representatives for the major record labels started sending thousands of DMCA notifications each week that targeted creators’ archives, mostly for snippets of tracks in years-old Clips.”
When a license holder issues a takedown request, a platform must comply with the takedown before initiating a review process. In this scenario, this would be Twitch in quite the predicament.
The mass takedown requests over the summer would create a domino effect. Streamers would suddenly find several and as many as hundreds of years-old Clips with flags for violating DMCA. As a result, these put streamers at severe risk for breaking the platform’s three-strike rule.
Twitch’s solutions to the controversy
To help alleviate these concerns, Twitch is releasing some tools to purge or edit video-on-demand and Clip libraries.
One of these tools is a mass deletion tool, which would help streamers purge video archives. However, streamers are, without a doubt, not enthusiastic about deleting work that has spanned years. The company acknowledges that it should have taken better precautionary steps and measures to prevent this.
“One of the mistakes we made was not building adequate tools to allow creators to manage their own VOD and Clip libraries,” Twitch states. “You’re rightly upset that the only option we provided was a mass deletion tool for Clips, and that we gave you three-days notice to use this tool.”
Twitch also acknowledges their lack of forethought in its toolsets for these situations.
“We could have developed more sophisticated, user-friendly tools awhile ago. That we didn’t is on us,” the company continues. “And we could have provided creators with a longer time period to address their VOD and Clip libraries — that was a miss as well.”
Twitch is also rolling out a Music tool, which will allow streamers to play licensed music during their streams without the worry about DMCA takedowns. However, considering the ongoing negotiations between Twitch and the major record labels, the company recommends streamers to not play record music during streams.
In the email, they would specify fully-licensed alternatives like Soundtrack by Twitch. Streamers also can utilize rights-cleared music libraries such as Soundstripe, Monstercat Gold, Chillhop, Epidemic Sound, and NoCopyrightSounds. This would also include any music that is in the public domain under Creative Commons license.
More Twitch tools to work on DMCA issues in the wheelhouse
There are more tools in the wheelhouse to help streamers have greater control in archive management, but there is no current timeline. With future tools, streamers will be able to control stream audio that potentially infringes on copyright and review DMCA notifications further.
Until then, it may be some time until recorded music will be safe to play during Twitch streams.
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Jake Leonard, a broadcast media and journalism veteran, is the editor-in-chief of Heartland Newsfeed. Leonard is also GM and program director of Heartland Newsfeed Radio Network, wrestling editor and contributing writer for Ambush Sports, a contributing writer for My Sports Vote and Midwest Sports Network, and a former contributor to Bleacher Report and Overtime Heroics. He resides at home in Nokomis, Ill. with his dog Buster.
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