Following the wave of Twitch’s July DMCA takedown notifications, many streamers on the platform have received another round of emails warning them of copyright infringement on their channel. Instead of issuing account strikes, Twitch automatically deleted the content flagged. The platform went on to state that this is a one-time warning and advises users learn copyright laws.
In other words, recipients of the email did not receive any long-term penalty–a strike–on their channel. Twitch also did not let users file counterclaims, which apparently is a policy that Twitch will keep going forward. In a tweet, the platform stated that it will continue to automatically delete any clips that contain copyrighted music without attaching strikes to accounts.
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
The situation is a little confusing, since if this email is a “one-time warning,” what will Twitch be doing differently moving forward? If Twitch keeps its current policy of automatically deleting clips/VODs with copyrighted music, it appears that you probably won’t get your channel closed if you have copyrighted music in past clips and VODs. (Though to be on the safe side, Twitch advises you to delete any clips you think might contain copyrighted material.) Your livestreams, however, could still be flagged with DMCA takedown notifications.
Twitch received its first wave of DMCA takedown notifications in July. And much like now, streamers, some with livelihoods depending on Twitch, were stressed about their channel possibly being shut down for good. Per Twitch’s user guidelines, an account that the company deems as “repeat infringers” will be terminated. Due to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), Twitch is legally obligated to penalize repeat offenders and accounts. Other platforms, like YouTube and Twitter, are subject to the same laws.
However, Twitch’s copyright strike system is still unclear, and the platform will need to provide more details about its policy. For example, YouTube enacts the three-strike and account terminated system–but if you’re within the three strike limit, strikes do disappear after 90 days. Twitch hasn’t clarified if copyright strikes will expire after a certain period or if similar to YouTube’s policy, users will have to take a copyright course after their first official strike.
Twitch’s system of using software to identify existing clips that may contain copyrighted music and then automatically deleting them isn’t new. During July’s DMCA takedown notifications, the platform stated that this method would be how it would handle clips and VODs with copyrighted music.
Twitch also warned users that while the software would detect copyrighted music in clips and VODs, the service would not apply to livestreams. The company emphasized that users should do their due diligence and not use copyrighted music in livestreams, since companies could also issue a DMCA takedown for live content.
However, streamers have taken issue with Twitch’s choice to automatically delete clips with copyrighted music. Some have queried why Twitch can’t flag the content and clips in question so users could decide whether they want to dispute the DMCA takedown notification. Though, according to Ryan Morrison (aka Video Game Attorney), it’s a bad idea to counter the copyright claims without an intellectual property lawyer. “You are quite literally telling them you are going to continue what you’re doing unless they sue you,” he tweeted. “Don’t threaten billionaire companies to sue you. Lawyer up.”
Yeah but WHAT clip or VOD? How do we even know it was a true claim and not a false claim or false ID by some system akin to YouTube’s many false claims?
— Anne Munition (@AnneMunition) October 20, 2020
To address the need for licensed music, Twitch created Soundtrack by Twitch that provides rights-cleared music for users to utilize in their streams. However, the service applies to livestreams only and does not transfer to clips or VODs. If streamers are searching for other options, websites like Monstercat Gold and Soundstripe offer membership options for licensing.
Twitch will also be hosting a livestream to give users a lesson on copyright laws and how to manage music on your channel. Catch it on Wednesday, October 21 at 2 PM PT, and check it out if you have questions about Twitch’s copyright policies.