Twitch streamers from all corners of the platform have been getting DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown notifications, leading to many content creators like Mongraal, Brax, Scump, and a lot more to discover that clips/VODs from their channel have been deleted.
What started as a wake-up call for anyone who’s ever played music while streaming turned into bitter confusion after emails started circulating among creators that their content was flagged by the company for DMCA implications.
“It is INSANE that Twitch informs partners they deleted their content – and that there is more content in violation despite having NO identification system to find out what it is,” Former CLG CEO and Twitch streamer Devin Nash said. “Their solution to DMCA is for creators to delete their life’s work. This is pure, gross negligence.”
While infractions or complaints from streamers have to do with music particularly, DMCA strikes can apply to any creative work that is copyrighted, broadcasted without a license to do so, and discovered then reported by its owner.
Did not receive a DMCA email but I deleted everything off of my channel a couple months ago. Seems like that’s the only way :/ sad, wish there was a little more transparency with what’s going on
— brookeab (@brookeab) October 20, 2020
“Guys, I got a DMCA warning today too,” Twitch partner and Ninja’s Manager/wife, Jessica Blevins said. “I thought I deleted all my old stuff. Whoops! Honestly sucks that it wasn’t regulated before because now everyone has to delete their stuff to be safe.”
“We are writing to inform you that your channel was subject to one or more of these DMCA takedown notifications, and that the content identified has been deleted,” Twitch wrote in emails to streamers, though none with the specific infractions committed.
The affected streamers didn’t necessarily earn themselves an official DMCA strike, three of which gets you banned on the platform, but content is still being deleted and streamer’s now have to deal with the ambiguity of the Oct 20 emails.
“Looked at a few of these DMCA emails, they don’t identify the content taken down, who sent the notification, or provide an opportunity to respond to the takedown with a counter-notification as required under the DMCA. No chance to defend yourself,” Noah Downs said, who is a lawyer at Morrison Rothman LLP that also works in the gaming space.
These DMCA notices are legit and apply to your old content. I've received word that live takedowns may be implemented very soon – this is the beginning.
Don't play music you don't have the rights to, and if you have questions, speak to a lawyer.
— Noah Downs, Esquire (@MyLawyerFriend) October 20, 2020
This is an overall confusing situation since streamers, who have enjoyed Twitch’s presumed leniency to music being played, now have to go back and purge their channels.
“I might get DMCA banned from Twitch…,” CouRage said, joking about the content still up on his channel that hasn’t been deleted since his big move to YouTube.
I might get DMCA banned from Twitch…
— Jack “CouRage” Dunlop (@CouRageJD) October 20, 2020
HELP IM GETTING DMCA'D IDK WHAT IT MEANS AM I BANNED FROM TWITCH?
— T1 SONII (@sonii) October 20, 2020
gg so I cant play literally any music anymore on stream or what? so dumb bro
— FaZe Mongraal (@Mongraal) October 20, 2020
Got hit with a DMCA on twitch and no idea what it was that did it.
— Lirik (@LIRIK) October 20, 2020
Got hit with that DMCA warning and I haven't played music in months. dang.
— Seth Huntsmen (@scump) October 20, 2020
How can Twitch streamers avoid DMCA?
For the time being, Twitch’s mass deletion of clips and VODs will go unchallenged. Furthermore, the platform is asking individual streamers to scour their libraries of content for any more instances that could merit a DMCA.
Twitch content creators have until 12 PM PST / 3 PM EST / 8 PM BST on Friday, October 23 to find and delete any possible infractions in their content catalogues or clips that haven’t been flagged by the platform themselves. The company will “resume the normal processing of DMCA takedowns” shortly after.
The company also suggests using tools like Audible Magic, while reviewing the site’s DMCA, Community, and Music guidelines to avoid future mishaps. If you’re unsure if something falls under a DMCA’s purview, Twitch recommends to “delete all of it.”
“Please note that buying music (such as a CD or mp3) or subscribing to a music streaming service typically does not grant rights to share the music on Twitch. Such a purchase or subscription grants you a personal license to access the content only for your personal and private playback,” Twitch wrote in the Music guidelines.
This content was identified and deleted for you, in accordance with its obligations under the DMCA. Going forward, Clips that are identified as having copyrighted music will be deleted without penalty to help ensure you do not receive DMCA notifications from rights holders.
— Twitch Support (@TwitchSupport) October 20, 2020
Why are DMCAs happening now?
There’s been inklings that something like this was bound to happen. Back in June, Twitch notified streamers of “mass DMCA claims against clips” from record labels spanning 2017-2019.
From the language used, Twitch decided to hand out DMCA notifications about specific infractions instead of what they did today, but were “working to make this easier” with future implementation of management tools.
Since then, Twitch has given creators the ability to delete all of their clips at once and control who can actually make clips on someone’s channel. Moreover, they’ve even provided a way to scan clips with Audible Magic while offering Soundtrack by Twitch which lets people stream with music playing in a separate audio track.
“Now that these tools have been released to all creators” the company released the notifications while deleting content themselves, to get the ball rolling.
It is INSANE that @Twitch informs partners they deleted their content – and that there is more content in violation despite having NO identification system to find out what it is. Their solution to DMCA is for creators to delete their life's work. This is pure, gross negligence. pic.twitter.com/mhdXU5lEc5
— Devin (@DevinNash) October 20, 2020
To be clear, copyrighted music on Twitch has always skirted the lines of legality with royalty payments and the like, but the platform is now at a level of prominence where labels and other artists are taking notice of what’s being presented by individual streamers – and it’s not that hard to do.
“Universal Music Group and Warner have invested in this company that is monitoring every stream on Twitch and they have the ability to issue live DMCAs, they just haven’t done it yet,” Downs told djWHEAT back in June.
Free music for Twitch streaming
For those that still want to stream with music while avoiding the potential of a DMCA warning, there are a few services to look out for.
Twitch recommended services like Monstercat Gold and Soundstripe for sources of licensed music for streamers.
Be warned, while huge artists like T-Pain have essentially given streamers the greenlight to use their music during a stream, music labels might still be able to issue a DMCA.
For those that don’t want to be bothered by any DMCA implications, streaming without licensed music is the safest way to keep yourself clear from legal ramifications.