As Twitch moved into a new system in which unlicensed music playing on streams would become fair grounds for DMCA takedowns from copyright holders, it unleashed a flood of issues on creators who suddenly found their inboxes full of legal emails and much of their affected content deleted. Suffice to say, it’s been disastrous for many content creators and influencers for a few weeks now. In the wake of the issue, Twitch apologized for not better preparing its community for the change, but it won’t be able to fix much of the damage done.
Twitch officially addressed the matter of DMCA and copyright issues in its new system on November 11, 2020. Back in late October, users started noticing a wave of DMCA takedown notifications following the launch of Twitch’s new Soundtrack system. In an effort to better comply with US copyright law, Twitch opened the gates to allow copyright holders to file DMCA complaints on streams that used unlicensed music. This allowed record labels and other IP holders to file DMCA takedowns. Even Twitch admits that what was once 50 music-related DMCA complaints a year became thousands a week following the launch of its new system.
It would seem that Soundtrack by Twitch and other licensed music libraries are the best way to get around copyright issues in streaming right now.
Suddenly, a wealth of content creators found their videos-on-demand (VODs) and clips being deleted en masse as emails were sent out regarding copyright violations. What’s worse, Twitch’s emails didn’t say nearly enough about what had been done wrong or what should be done following, resulting in a lot of content creators losing a lot of their previous work in the sweep.
Twitch apologized, but admitted that little could be done about what had occurred. Essentially, the company put the impetus on creators to be informed and cautious going forward.
“Don’t play recorded music in your stream unless you own all rights in the music, or you have the permission of the necessary rights holder(s),” Twitch wrote. “Doing this is the best protection for your streams going forward. If you’re unsure whether you own all the rights, it’s pretty likely you don’t. If you want to include recorded music in your stream, use a fully licensed alternative like Soundtrack by Twitch, or other rights cleared music libraries such as Soundstripe, Monstercat Gold, Chillhop, Epidemic Sound, and NCS.”
Twitch further suggested that for VODs and clips, users would just have to go through their own libraries and either delete affected content one by one, or be safe with a “delete all” approach. Even so, some users have still reported getting hit with DMCAs even on deleted content. This is likely due to content remaining on Twitch’s servers for a brief time after deletion to essentially keep (but not display) server copies of content for a reasonable time following deletion, according to its TOS.
While Twitch promised to be more transparent going forward on the matter, the damage is very much done. Many users have lost content and it would appear that Twitch’s solution to that is an apology with little else beyond putting it on users to be more careful. The situation being what it is, many Twitch-based creators will have little choice in the matter. It is worth noting if you’re a content creator, Twitch has a submission system for getting your content on Soundtrack. Stay tuned for more updates on the situation as information becomes available.