Twitch’s TV show meta bubble is bound to burst, but who takes the blame?

Andrew Amos
Mizkif and Pokimane looking shocked at Gordon Ramsay

Pokimane’s Twitch ban has demonstrated one thing ⁠— Twitch’s TV show meta bubble is about to burst. However, who takes the blame: streamers for fleeting the rules, or Twitch’s poor enforcement of DMCA? Frankly, it’s hard to look past the negligence of the latter.

The Twitch meta is a fickle beast. It’s the thing streamers live and die by, following aimlessly even if it leads to their downfall. The “hot tub” (and ASMR) meta martyred Indiefoxx. The music DMCA saga — now solved with adequate rights in place — saw more widespread concern.

Now, the TV show meta has claimed its first victim in Imane ‘Pokimane’ Anys. Caught while streaming Avatar: The Last Airbender for 10 hours on stream, the widely-considered “role model” of the platform no longer has a presence ⁠— even if temporarily.

Much like the music DMCA saga, it’s sent fellow streamers into a VOD-deleting, clip-obliterating bonanza (thank god for those new tools Twitch punched out, begrudgingly it seemed at times). If the bubble hasn’t burst already, the needle is on the brink of breaking that tension.

Pokimane streaming Avatar on Twitch, gets banned
Pokimane was streaming Avatar: The Last Airbender on Twitch when she got her January 7 ban.

However, this article isn’t here to argue why re-streaming copyrighted content is bad. It’s common sense that if you don’t own something, you shouldn’t rebroadcast it without permission. Twitch streaming with commentary, no matter what angle of fair use you use, isn’t transformative content.

But, in saying that, the fault of why copyrighted content goes viral and these metas form isn’t a fault of streamers. They’re just doing their job in entertainment. Instead, the blame firmly lays on Twitch’s repeated negligence of DMCA enforcement, and if they’re not careful it could lead to the platform’s ultimate demise.

Streamers will push the boundaries, Twitch needs to set them firmer

The nature of streaming, entertainment, and showbiz is all about pushing the boundaries. To make it in the industry, it’s about following trends. If the trend becomes reacting to Gordon Ramsay asking about lamb sauce, or watching Avatar with your chat, streamers are going to do just that ⁠— even if the legalities are murky at best.

Instead of putting the onus on streamers to set the boundaries of what they stream though, Twitch needs to step in. Their staff need to stop watching these restreams ⁠— it’s been spotted before ⁠— and actually set proper DMCA standards on their platform.

This is in no way condoning the actions of streamers who decide to stream TV shows like Masterchef, Kitchen Nightmares, or Avatar. However, streamers cannot self-moderate like this. No matter how many times Sodapoppin, shroud, or others say “streaming TV shows on Twitch is bad”, streamers will do it as long as it gets them views.

Twitch needs to protect their image and their stars by putting an end to this DMCA nonsense. It’s not like the technology isn’t there ⁠— just ask Ludwig with his three bans during his first week of YouTube, all DMCA-related. Warning streamers, and taking down their streams, if they show copyrighted content is a must if the platform wants to survive the weight of whatever legal battle is brewing.

Step in now Twitch, or watch the platform crumble

No one is crying tears over Pokimane getting banned, least of all themselves given they’ve set themselves up for life on the platform and have said as much. However, once this crosses into the line of punishing streamers trying to follow their idols with this DMCA-dangerous reaction content, and Twitch doesn’t do anything to protect small streamers, that’s when it becomes a massive problem.

Twitch star CohhCarnage probably put it best in the aftermath of Pokimane’s ban: “You absolutely could make the argument that Pokimane was a fool for trying to do this. Just like all the other folks streaming content with obvious DMCA risks. But Twitch sitting there and just watching while all this happens is also pretty frustrating. Do something about this.”

They managed to add a music DMCA system ⁠— even if it’s lackadaisical. Adding another one for streamers restreaming content live is a no-brainer.

Twitch can’t keep pushing away responsibility and sit on their hands. It’s their platform and their future, and no one will be sympathetic for them once the bubble bursts and the crackdown happens, which will inevitably see their top streamers flee. Streamers will continue to do dumb stuff, but at least shore up the guard rails.

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