May 27, 2022

Twitch Hit With Waves of DMCA Takedowns

Twitch streamers were recently hit with a mass of DMCA strikes. The result has left many high-profile and indie streamers banned or demonetised. But, what exactly happened? If you have been affected, please get in touch with us. We’d love to hear your story.

A recent spate of DMCAs tore through Twitch. The result was that several high-profile streamers were wiped clean off the map.

Streams that had raked in tonnes of supporters and money had been demonetised. And, as a platform, Twitch was put into a difficult position that resulted in high-profile bans.

So, what exactly happened?

Well, several streamers had received emails from a company claiming to represent the Recording Industry Association of America. This company issued out DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) claims that marks something on terms of copyright infringement. This practice is not exclusive to Twitch, however. YouTube, Tic-Tok, Vimeo, and others are subject to claims.

However, this is the first time such a sizeable DMCA strike has hit the streaming site. Taking to Twitter, Twitch Support issued the following statement;

“This week we’ve had a sudden influx of DMCA takedown requests for clips with background music from 2017-19…

This is the first time we have received mass DMCA claims against clips. We understand this has been stressful for affected creators and are working on solutions, including examining how we can give you more control over your clips”.

The more observant of you would probably have spotted the crux of the problem here. The claims have been from legacy clips, dating back to 2017. For a big streamer who treats it as their full time job, this could be hundreds, if not thousands, of hours of content.

And, potentially, a few mere minutes of these have been scrutinised.

Of course, copyright infringement exists to protect the artists that created the work. In the real world, it’s a great thing. It secures a livelihood for the men and women who work tirelessly to make music and art that we love.

However, in terms of sheer practicality, this series of DMCA strikes were out of nowhere. Several users were hit with multiple strikes at one time. And, unfortunately, it’s the classic case of “three strikes, and you’re out” ruling. Hence why so many streamers were banned so quickly.

Ironically, Twitch does have a system in place that is supposed to automatically mute any VOD content that includes copyrighted music. As you may have surmised, it doesn’t always work.

Worse still is that as part of the community appeal of Twitch, viewers and streamers themselves can create snippets of their stream with Twitch’s video player. Much like a quick recording on your phone from a gig, these exist separate to the original piece. However, they are still protected by DMCA. (Sorry, it is rather messy).

The Issues of Licensing Aren’t Exactly Cut-and-Dry

Streamers and their audience can keep these clips long after a stream has been deleted. Yes, streamers have the ability to delete individual clips (or all clips, if they so wish). However, as you may have guessed, with several hundred hours of potential content to rifle through, there’s a lot that could be missed by the streamer.

The only logical solution, therefore, would be to delete everything. This, however, is also proving difficult for some.

Fuslie, a streamer who was amongst the first to bring the issue to light, said:

Fuslie notes how she has to delete in excess of 100,000 clips. In addition to which the Twitch Creator Dashboard simply wasn’t loading any of her older clips.

What’s Going to Happen?

There is a glimmer of hope for any and all affected Twitch streamers, however. This is not the first time copyright claims have been used on the platform – it’s not even the first one this year. There’s always a way around these things, even if that means simply removing the option to have licensed music as part of a stream unless you specifically own the copyright to it.

Clearly though, there’s a lot of groundwork that needs to be done for this sort of thing to not happen again. Whether the claims continue or are upheld remain to be seen.

Bryce Blum, an esports lawyer (apparently it’s a thing), said;

“Every year or so, issues related to the DMCA come to the fore in the gaming/esports community. This system has it’s issues to be sure, but there are a lot of fundamental misunderstandings surrounding what the DMCA is and how it functions.

The DMCA isn’t inherently evil – in fact, its core purpose is good for creators and the internet as a whole. But it was written 22 years ago and it’s rigid structure needs to evolve to match the current complexity and magnitude of the digital influencer ecosystem”.

Twitching For a Result

The thread continues on, and clearly, Blum knows his stuff. It’s a fascinating read for any and all with even a passing interest in music, streaming, and licensing. Beyond that, the future is still unclear for many streamers. I guess the best option would simply be to distance yourselves from any and all licensed music for now. Easier said than done, I know.

Also, quick segue, be sure to tune into the Any Button Gaming Twitch channel. My Overlord and Your Best Friend, Darren Colley, goes live every Monday and Wednesday. He’s also looking at getting other editors involved, so watch this space!


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