During the coronavirus pandemic, artists and virtual events have flocked to streaming sites such as YouTube and Twitch to perform for their fans around the world and raise money for charities. However, over the past day all kinds of creators on the Amazon owned platform have started to get issued with DMCA complaints dating back years.
From examining the screenshots of users on social media it appears as though the RIAA (Recording Industry Association America) is the complainant for a majority of the cases and the songs are from many major label artists, some dating back over 3 years ago. Twitch, just like Facebook, Soundcloud and YouTube is legally obligated to perform these takedowns if it wants to be protected under the Safe Harbor provision which prevents a platform from being held liable for copyright infringements by its users.
I’ve been issued 2 copyright strikes on my channel (both from clips over a year old) in the past week and told that if they find one more violation in my clips, my twitch account will be permabanned. (1/4) pic.twitter.com/y8pft3spdq— fuslie (@fuslie) June 7, 2020
While it appears as though Twitch has had policy regarding the use of copyrighted music dating back sometime, it’s been very loosely enforced and some users may have been unaware of the policy or even simply ignoring it. Now streamers are being faced with possible account terminations if they don’t delete all their clips which contain music they haven’t created, don’t own or have permission for.
This may sound straightforward, however some games feature licensed music such as GTA, Need For Speed and FIFA. If these instances are also logged, Twitch streamers are not allowed to record clips of standard in game videos due to the music that already exists within the content.
While music copyright is a very serious issue, the timing of the complaints couldn’t have come at a more frustrating moment, artists who have been unable to tour have been heavily embracing the platform and several events are set to broadcast through the platform many of which are also raising money for charities.
Some more famous Twitch users have shared that they have had more than the allowed infringements but their Twitch Partner representatives have told them they’ll be fine. So while those at the top may be able to avoid loosing their accounts all together, many of its smaller users might suffer.
As seen below, Mikaylah points out that even with 4 copyright strikes, her account seems to be in a fine condition. Her partner manager also clarified that everything will be okay.
While many streamers are making money from their streams and it could easily be argued that the music they are using is creating a better experience and thus labels have a right to not let them benefit. On the otherside of the coin, it could also be viewed that a popular Twitch streamer using music would help promote an artist’s work. We hope that the platform can find a way to allow streamers to continue using music and perhaps allow labels to monetize the uses of the music much like they can on YouTube.
Twitch’s terms also mention that in the cases of infringement they may mute VODs unlike clips. It appears as though they now have an automated content filtering systems that can detect audio in a VOD which contains unauthorized uses of music. However as many artists know, this system has been problematic with other platforms and artists have had their own music taken down due to labels registering their content.
You can view the rules Twitch has on their site below about what types of music content can be used, and if you do own the rights to the music in the case it is muted, they have an article on How To Appeal Muted Content.
Here are some example types of music content you may not use in Twitch streams or VODs:
- Radio-Style Music Listening Show – A Twitch stream or VOD which focuses on playing music that is not owned by you and is not licensed for you to share on Twitch.
- DJ Set – Playing and/or mixing pre-recorded music tracks which incorporate music, other than music which is owned by you or music which is licensed for you to share on Twitch.
- Karaoke Performance – Singing or performing to a karaoke recording other than an in-game karaoke performance that is licensed for you to share on Twitch, such as a Twitch Sings Performance.
- Lip Synch Performance – Pantomiming, singing, or pretending to sing to music that is not owned by you or is not licensed for you to share on Twitch.
- Visual Music Depiction – Lyrics, music notation, tablature, or any other visual representation of copyrighted music other than music owned by you or music which is licensed for you to share on Twitch, or on-screen lyrics or depictions of music provided by Twitch as part of Twitch Sings gameplay and captured in streams or VODs of your Twitch Sings Performances.
- Cover Song Performance – Performance of a song owned by someone else, with the exception of a live performance in your Twitch stream. If you do perform a cover song in a live Twitch stream, please make a good faith effort to perform the song as written by the songwriter, and create all audio elements yourself, without incorporating instrumental tracks, music recordings, or any other recorded elements owned by others.