Hello and welcome back to Jaggy’s Corner where I discuss different topics in the video game world. Today, is going to be a bit of a rant about Twitch and DMCA, so buckle up!
Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Technically, the issue of DMCA and copyright law has always existed whether it’s been through novels, company products, or video games. It is a complicated and long legal debate that will take time to update and fix. Unfortunately, that means in the interim, a lot of content creators (like myself) will suffer.
Where the DMCA Issue Began
According to Twitch’s recent blog post on November 11th (nice timing btw…), they state that back in May the platform was hit with thousands of DMCA takedown notices. Before the month of May, Twitch had received fewer than 50 claims per year. Now, this is important for a number of reasons, in my opinion:
- The Pandemic caused businesses to lose tons of money. Everything from retail to restaurants and grocers.
- The Pandemic caused a lot of people to find alternative means of generating income like art, writing, YouTube, and Twitch.
- Copyright isn’t designed with an online space in mind and can be difficult to navigate. Right now, it’s designed for companies to purchase licenses to broadcast music.
If you add those factors up, we can see that every business and income model is suffering in some way. At the point that many people flocked to online platforms to generate income, companies saw that they could make money as well, especially since music companies have the legal right to profit from content they’ve produced. Unfortunately, this has left a lot of creators in the dust as the large music companies push against other large companies like Twitch.
Let’s Follow the Money
- In 2014, pre Amazon, Twitch was forced to implement systems to save their creators from DMCA violations. They grabbed a known program called Audible Magic to scan VODs for copyrighted music. They also did away with permenantly storing past VODs for many creators. At that time, Twitch knew it had to keep up with the demand and to protect themselves from potential financial ruin due to increased costs of DMCA violations.
- Much later, Twitch lost some of their biggest streamers to another platform. As such, Twitch lost a ton of revenue from the loss and they needed to make up for it.
- Then, Twitch regained Ninja in Sept 2020 with a sizable deal. (The value is in the millions by the way.) but they weren’t out of the water yet.
- Twitch had to regain the money they spent on Ninja back. So, they implemented a trial run of mid-roll ads which was met with a lot of backlash.
- After the failure of the mid-roll ads, Twitch implemented a popup to combat adblocker programs, another source of monetary loss. What viewers would get is a screen that would display every couple of minutes if adblock was allowed while on Twitch.
- With the influx of viewers due to the pandemic, major music labels see potential to generate income that they’ve lost from bans of large public gathers and a decline in music sales. This led to a mass amount of DMCA strikes to Twitch.
What Does All of the DMCA Issues Mean?
With all of the above said I think I’d rather Twitch protect their content creators rather than pass the buck as they did in this Tweet:
OOF. While the Eula does detail the rights held by the developer/publisher and what the creator can stream, most people don’t have the legal understanding to follow what is said.
If that wasn’t enough, Twitch’s Audible Magic system is supposed to detect all forms of copyright infringements, which means that false positives can happen. Even in-game music isn’t necessarily safe to stream. Just the other day, someone tweeted this:
Where Do We Go from Here?
Personally, I stopped streaming. As a person that loves music and supports artists because I’ve heard music from streams, I am not happy with the state of affairs. Twitch had to have seen the adpocalypse numbers 1, 2, and 3 on YouTube, so they should have known that a lack of communication with its content creators would cause havoc. Furthermore, they’ve forced content creators into a state of limbo. Are their livelihoods going to be ripped from under them? (Although, there are many who know and still use copyrighted material.) And while I agree that there should be a better system for content creators and that the music industry is entitled to their revenue, the implementation of these systems are meant to cover Twitch’s butt, and not the content creators.
So, if you are planning on streaming to Twitch, here are a couple of useful pointers and resources:
- Noah Downs, Esquire – He is a lawyer specializing in video games, IP, and Entertainment Law. Feel free to follow his Twitter for a better understanding of the legal issues surrounding the DMCA topic
- StreamerSquare – This group of creators has written articles like this one and this one. They’ve also produced podcasts that covers everything surrounding streaming, your business, and DMCA.
- Use copyright free music like Pretzel Rocks, Monstercat, Chillhop, and please mute in game music to protect yourselves!
Unfortunately, Twitch is being extremely tone deaf right now. We are in November and while YouTube, Facebook Gaming, and other sites have figured out a licensing system that works for them, Twitch gave their content creators a ‘sorry’ and ‘we will do better’ without having put in enough effort to help their own creators. For reference, there are two Twitter threads about the topic. Take a look at Justin Wong’s Thread and Jason Maestas’ Thread on the subject.
For now peeps, I’m angry with the way this is being handled, but this is just my opinion and thoughts. What do you think?
Until next time.