IFPI Nuking Twitch Streamers Accounts For Playing Background Music

from the all-perfectly-normal-side-effects-of-the-copyright-regime dept

It appears another rightsholder is doing something that’s a.) well within its rights and b.) counterproductive. It’s also another example of how the DMCA is often used to enforce some weird caste system among creators, favoring the incumbents over the upstarts.

A post on Reddit and a short Twitter thread by Twitch streamer Josh Allen confirm IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) is targeting Twitch streamers for playing music while recording. DMCA notices sent to Twitch are resulting in account suspensions which could turn into permabans if streamers continue to irritate IFPI.

IFPI can certainly target music from artists it represents. And Twitch’s terms of service make it clear it doesn’t tolerate copyright infringement. But the end result for streamers is possible account deletion, and that can lead to an actual loss of income.

For the most part, these notices seem to target music playing in the background of streams. For these streams, the music isn’t why people are tuning in. It’s, at best, an ancillary addition that exists alongside the gameplay that actually draws viewers. The system Twitch has in place is there to placate copyright holders. It seems a bit overkillish, seeing as it not only boots users from Twitch for 24 hours but deletes/disables anything else they’d previously recorded (VODs [videos on demand]).

The problem with IFPI’s actions is it won’t result in greater respect for copyright. Instead of working with streamers — especially the popular ones — to promote artists Twitch streamers use for background music, it’s instead targeted their livelihoods. It’s attacking “lost sales” that simply don’t exist. This isn’t file sharing. Very few people head to Twitch with the intention of listening to music for free. They’re there for the content created by Twitch streamers which happen to have music in the background. This isn’t one market destroying another. It could be two complementary markets (ContentID but for product placement of inadvertently featured artists) but IFPI has chosen to treat Twitch as just another Pirate Bay.

This gets more problematic considering IFPI’s history. IFPI has done things like target Creative Commons-licensed music posted more than a decade prior to the group’s bogus DMCA notice. While it loves the ease of use online DMCA submission systems provide, it has no desire to vet its takedown notices, which has allowed people unrelated to IFPI and its artists to engage in secondhand deletion of content IFPI doesn’t own. So, there’s a good chance some of these notices are bogus, but with almost no avenue for recourse, streamers are just going to have to sit through the suspension and, more likely, ensure nothing plays in the background of livestreams.

There are also some problems on the Twitch side. As is noted in the Reddit thread, some streamers may be taking paid song requests from viewers, which makes this far more problematic than simply doing the internet equivalent of turning the radio on. This may be what’s prompted IFPI’s recent interest in Twitch streamers (and Twitch’s apparently belated enforcement efforts). This might seem more justified, but this appears to be DMCA carpet bombing, not something targeting the worst offenders. Even so, there’s no market replacement here, just some unseemly behavior by streamers looking to side hustle as payola DJs.

In the end, what does IFPI actually get for the money it spends policing Twitch? Nothing but a bunch of pissed off streamers who will now avoid IFPI’s catalog when playing music. No new fans. No new sales. Just some more “because it’s there” DMCA enforcement that engenders more contempt for copyright holders. Nothing about this chain of events results in artists being paid more, and that’s supposed to be the reason IFPI does anything.

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Companies: ifpi, twitch

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Comments on “IFPI Nuking Twitch Streamers Accounts For Playing Background Music”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Solution!

He’d probably be cool with it

Why does his opinion matter? Didn’t he sell off the legal rights?

maybe we could poison Twitch’s need to reasonably comply with IFPI if they misidentified a few songs.

That hasn’t helped with Youtube or anywhere else I’m aware of. Stuff gets misidentified all the time.

Paul Brinker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Solution!

I met Weird Al in person, Hes cool with a lot of things that you would not find from most corporate artists. I can gather a bunch of friends and run an Al Con and he would both grant is personal blessing, and try to attend. (This was actully done a while back)

As far as his music on alternate platforms, hes 100% cool with that and while you may again need to ask in person and you can go to his shows and do so, or poke his manager or something. As stated, he makes almost no money on any of his albums, online royalties, spotify plays etc. All of his money is from:

-Live shows
-Merch Sales
-Guest Appearances
-Other Endeavors (Movies, Etc.)

The bad news is that even with a written and signed contract from AL, Sony owns the distribution rights to his music and would still shut you down if they felt like it. Most platforms lack the ability to let you say “I have a contract!” Youtube will give you several strikes before you can make that statement.

Note: Al is famous for asking permission, even when not required, he is one of the few acts out there that would entertain this kind of thing

Your best bet today is to re-record his music and just use the mechanical licenses. In fact this is an entire market today as you will find many new recordings of groups all over sites like spotify. Sometimes the act itself does this to get out of paying labels.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Is there anybody with a good lawyers handy prepared to play CC0 music, and sue for damages if and when their channel is taken down?

Nice idea, but unfortunately your odds of getting anything(let alone enough to cover legal fees) for fraudulent claims like that would almost certainly be in the ‘zero to none’ range.

Courts will bend over backwards to go after those dastardly copyright infringers who’s actions threaten creativity itself, but going after the valiant defenders of copyright who might make perfectly innocent mistakes that result in demonstrable harm every so often? Perish the thought.

Paul Brinker (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

If you go in using that route, your limited to damages you can prove. So if you use a DMCA takedown on the official Superbowl stream, you can be hit for gobs of money. If your stream makes $1000 / day or so (a really really good twitch Stream account), and your down for a 24 hour ban, you can sue for slightly more then $1000 (with a lotto chanch at court fees, loss of subscribers etc.)

The economics more or less only favor the big players, who can destroy you for claiming DMCA on their stuff but in the same breath claim that it “only” cost you a few days of revenue.

It’s the same tragedy that causes firms to try to block class action lawsuits, no one taken down stream is worth the money to fight over. But Every stream’s case is “unique” and must be fought on a case by case basis.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The easier way is for them to just not play music. This is the equivalent of having a radio on in the background while you’re talking to somebody, they’re not going to jump through legal hoops for the people threatening to ruin their livelihood for that.

“It shouldn’t be all that expensive for streamers to get a license.”

I suggest you have a look around. From my understanding, you need to pay at least 2 agencies with lists of exactly what you played, and then the automated bots don’t check for compliance anyway (if you’re even playing music the requires a licence in the first place). One podcast I listen to regularly is always complaining that their musical intervals are being muted on YouTube even though they’re fully paid up with licensing.

It’s a mess, and since these things always err on the side of caution (they’re rather block someone for playing music that’s allowed vs not blocking someone who’s infringing), you can comply fully and still get screwed. Better not to even try.

Cdaragorn (profile) says:

Another side to this problem is that many of these streamers are using the music in such a way that they’d have a strong case for fair use. But Twitch doesn’t care to provide any possibility for that since it would likely cost them to defend it.
Part of me seriously just wants all Copyright holders to get what they dream they want. Just so we can all watch the world implode as the freedom to create new things ceases to exist.

Anonymous Coward says:

Then UN-happen to have [someone else's] music in the background

You say people aren’t there for the music. — So just remove it! Problem solved.

Next anti-copyright hit piece, please.

[Short version, I’m no longer even trying to add interest here: this is just to trigger you kids to empty ad hom.]

Lazytribe says:

Re: Re: [someone else's] music in the background

I periodically stream on twitch, like very little. What I find really annoying is that if a stream is detected to be containing something of copyright the video is muted in your VOD. Not just the music but, all audio is muted.

I wasnt even playing music on the side it was the in-game music playing that was flagged. So my solution is to not stream the game. I dont want to take the time to challenge the flag on the video nor risk having future content flagged.

Sure it’s the rights holder’s choice to stop the audio of a game from being broadcast, but it is my choice to also stop promoting that product.

Since twitch streaming is a hobby for me I dont care if I stream or not. But I can appreciate the situation others are in.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Then UN-happen to have [someone else's] music in the background

“You say people aren’t there for the music. — So just remove it! Problem solved.”

Exactly. Why have a passive advertising outlet in a place where nobody is going to try and “steaL’ music from you, when you can ensure they watch their chosen form of entertainment in silence instead!

The intelligent answer would be to work with people who have a built in audience but aren’t there fore the music and cut a deal. They’re not losing sales based on Twitch streams, so why not work to maximise their passive audience like they used to when they illegally paid radio stations to play their stuff?

But, no, you’d rather the route that removes the avenue of possible sales completely, kills the income of people categorically NOT losing the music industry sales and puts many people off putting money into the recording industry at all. All because someone left a radio on in the background while they were working.

I’m sure you think this is a great move, though.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Then UN-happen to have [someone else's] music in the background

But then rightsholders would need to analyise the twitch streamers and match audiences with the music they’re pushing. We’re talking about marketing, consultants, focus groups, legal teams, managers, agents and who knows how many supercomputers to crunch numbers. It is much easier to issue takedowns than to wade through the hassle of making money.

Anonymous Coward says:

does anyone, apart from so-called ‘pirates’ (called that because it makes the entertainment industries case sound so wonderful and so damning towards ordinary people!) realise exactly what is happening here and that the entertainment industries are taking control, not just of the Internet, but of the entire planet? all because governments and the members of associated legal systems are so easily bought! what a shame they dont look at the damage they are doing by turning the world into nothing except one that is meant so studios and associated bosses can make extortionate profits while fucking everyone else over!!

takitus (profile) says:

Cutting off one’s nose

This isn’t one market destroying another. It could be two complementary markets (ContentID but for product placement of inadvertently featured artists) but IFPI has chosen to treat Twitch as just another Pirate Bay.

This is exactly right. YouTube, for example, is full of comments from interested users inquiring about the background music used in specific videos and asking where to get a copy. Since no-one is actually using livestreams as a free jukebox for copyrighted music, it seems like the net effect of all this could be totally positive for music creators.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Cutting off one’s nose

Well, almost all content creator on YouTube and other platforms are self publishers, and the labels and studios just hate it because they are not getting most of the profits. Sketchy claims are the way those rights holding organization hijack some of the income of the self publishers, or try to remove them as competition for eyes and ears.

ECA (profile) says:

Love this stuff..

A law/regulation
that needs NOT to be proven..
AND ANYONE can abuse it..

Dont need to prove you OWN the rights, or even have a Master copy of the recording..
Dont need to show you represent the ARTIST..

Is this as bad as a House loan, thats sold to other companies, and to other countries, multiple times..UNTIL the original Company does NOT even know who has your loan.. (yep its happening now)

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