Listening to music while you live stream? “You need to stop doing that” says Twitch

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Back in the heady days of October, Twitch began removing archived streams after it received Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices.

Now, nearly a month after the incident, Twitch has revealed what happened on its end.

“Until May of this year, streamers received fewer than 50 music-related DMCA notifications each year on Twitch. 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. We continue to receive large batches of notifications, and we don’t expect that to slow down,” wrote Twitch.

Copyright law is a complex beast and while many creators will cry “fair use”, the fact of the matter is that simply playing a song while you slay out in Rainbow 6: Siege is not fair use. For those curious about what constitutes fair use in the US we recommend this overview from the Stanford University Libraries.

This brings us to what Twitch is doing for creators who had their archived work removed. The short answer is nothing, but Twitch is hitting pause on the processing of strikes. This is because as Twitch puts it “we understood VODs and Clips from years ago may not necessarily reflect your current approach to music”.

The reason this pause is happening is so that Twitch can build out the tools and information streamers need to deal with DMCA notices.

It should be pointed out that 99 percent of DMCA claims were for streamers who were playing music in the background.

Twitch’s advice for streamers

The platform has advised streamers to not play recorded music in their stream unless they own all the rights to that music.

“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,” says Twitch.

Twitch does however mention several services you can use to stream royalty free music. Soundstripe, Monstercat Gold, Chillhope, NCS and – our personal favourite Epidemic Sound – are all great options.

Twitch also warned streamers about DMCA claims from music in games.

“If you’re playing games with recorded music in them, we recommend you review their End User License Agreements (that wall of text at the beginning of a game) to see how the terms cover streaming with that music,” the platform says.

Twitch is working on ways for creators to detect when they are using copyrighted audio as well as more granular ways to manage archived content rather than simply deleting everything.

“One of the mistakes we made was not building adequate tools to allow creators to manage their own VOD and Clip libraries. You’re rightly upset that the only option we provided was a mass deletion tool for Clips, and that we only gave you three-days notice to use this tool. We could have developed more sophisticated, user-friendly tools awhile ago. That we didn’t is on us. And we could have provided creators with a longer time period to address their VOD and Clip libraries – that was a miss as well. We’re truly sorry for these mistakes, and we’ll do better,” Twitch said.

The platform will also start educating users about what they can and cannot do on Twitch through its Creator Camp page.

This is the start of what we suspect is going to be a long journey for both Twitch and creators.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.

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