Twitch streamers are waking up to the unfortunate news that they received a DMCA takedown over the last 12 hours. The DMCA’s appear to have been issues based upon clips, some of which are going back as far as 2017. While the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) is responsible for the majority of the claims, Warner Music also issued some as well. The music comes from artists including Ariana Grande, 50 Cent, the Bee Gees, and DNCE.
The streamers hit with the takedowns include Jakenbakelive, 39daph, Nymn, Macaiyla, Fuslie, LittleSiha, TheHaleyBaby, ChloeLock, KatieOhLee, Palmbee, Kneecoleslaw, Snugibun, Atira, Omagicz, Leclumsyfox, Alinity and others.
**NOT A LAWYER. THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE. LAWS CHANGE/INTERPRETATION CHANGES ETC.**
Twitch is Not at Fault
Now, while I have seen a lot of anger directed at Twitch, it’s important to know that they actually don’t have much control in these situations. An element within the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is something called “Safe Harbor”. It essentially says that the platform cannot be held liable for the copyright infringement of the users on the platform. In order to be protected by Safe Harbor, the platform has to do a couple of things:
- It must have a procedure in place, and an agent who receives the DMCA notices.
- It must comply with DMCA takedown notices and remove the offending content.
- There’s also an element in DMCA as it relates to repeat offenders (which is why Twitch issues 24-hour suspensions and possible account bans).
Ultimately, Twitch really can’t do much to protect the users in this case. DMCA isn’t handled by Trust and Safety. It’s not handled by Partnership. It’s handled by their DMCA agent (which might even be a third party, I don’t know.) Here’s more information on Twitch’s DMCA guidelines.
**It’s my understanding, but I could be wrong, so please don’t quote this as being accurate… but a DMCA results in a strike to your account. If you receive 3 strikes, your account will be permanently suspended as a repeat offender. If you get multiple DMCA’s from the same issuer, it will only count as ONE strike.**
What Twitch Can Do to Help
Twitch is very much where YouTube was about 5 years ago. We all know the issues that YouTube has (and continues to have) with copyright claims… But it appears as though Twitch is following in their footsteps. My HOPE is that Twitch is working with Amazon Music to develop some kind of streaming license that’s affordable for streamers of all sizes… We’re seeing the first signs of that being possible with Twitch’s Watch Party system. But that may be a while away. Let’s discuss actual things Twitch can do in the short term to help streamers!
- Inform streamers when VODs are muted (including Time Codes) and show clips that may have been made during that time code range. VODs with copyright music gets muted, but clips are not. This will enable streamers to find possible sources of copyright violations and remove them.
- Improve the content management for clips. Right now, clips get populated in a single long list with very basic functionality. You can only sort by the day a clip was created and the views a clip has. Giving streamers the ability to group clips by stream, by game, by title and other ways will help us remove content.
- Clips with NO custom title should be on the automatic delete list after 7 days. Those clips are usually created by a viewer by accident, and as such, offer no value to anyone.
- Streamers should be allowed to make clips ‘Sub Only’. Much the same way we can with VODs.
What Streamers Can Do to Protect Themselves
Streamers have to take a proactive approach to copyright content. To date, Twitch has largely been too niche for the record industry to care that much about it. However, as it continues to gain mainstream appeal – the lawyers will be coming. This article from July 2018 was a signal to me that the Record Industry was going to come marching in at some point. As a streamer, here’s what you can do to protect yourself from DMCA takedowns.
- Stop using copyright music. I know. It sucks. It’s been standard for years… and maybe you could (I don’t recommend this) ride it out until you get your first DMCA… but eventually it is going to happen and you will get hit with a DMCA.
- If you’re going to continue to use copyright music, STOP MONETIZING IT! Do not make it pay to play. Do not make it sub only.
- Look into getting the rights to use music. You may not get mainstream music, but there are sources of really high-quality audio out there. NoCopyrightSounds do regular music that I believe is all free to use. Epidemic Sound has 40,000 tracks for $15 a month, and they’re whitelisted on every platform including YouTube and Twitch. There’s Monstercat, Pretzel Rocks, etc. Harris Heller (hates starting soon screens) but he put out some tracks for streamers for free. There are options for great music out there – you just may not have Ariana Grande or Beyonce singing on them.
What Happens Next?
What happens next is unknown. This could be the opening volley of DMCA takedowns on Twitch, that are followed by dozens or hundreds more OR that might be it for a while. We’ve seen some cases of DMCA’s in the past, Maroon 5 and Juice WRLD in 2018, for example.
Without a clear look into the future, I think it’s imperative that streamers do what they can to protect themselves. Go through your CLIPS and remove any with copyright music. Your VODs are (usually) protected with audio mutes that are done automatically by Twitch.
Now, with everything going on in the world – I’m sure DMCA modernization is not everyone’s priority… but bring it up with American politicians! They can change it and modernize it for 2020. It originally came out in 1998… and obviously the world has changed dramatically since then!
June 8 Update: Removed an opinion on ‘expiring’ strikes. It’s for non-DMCA strikes. Also, Twitch has officially commented on the matter via Twitter. Here’s what they said:
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Twitch already DOES have a “deal” with Amazon Prime Music. From what I’ve been able to research so far, the streamer has to use the Amazon Music extension, linked to their own Prime Music subscription, and only viewers that ALSO have a personal Prime Music subscription will hear the music. Doesn’t appear (so far) that it works for console streamers, OR for viewers watching a stream via any means other than a PC (so no music for console viewers, Roku/etc box/TV viewers, mobile (i.e. iOS/Android) viewers, etc.