Twitch Faces Sudden Stream of DMCA Notices Over Background Music

from the open-the-hatches dept

There is obviously a great deal of action going on currently in the streaming world, spurred on in part by the COVID-19 crises that has many people at home looking for fresh content. Between the attempts to respond to social movements and tamp down “hateful” content to changes to the competitive landscape, streaming services are having themselves a moment. But with the sudden uptick in popularity comes a new spotlight painting a target on streaming platforms for everyone from scammers to intellectual property maximilists.

Twitch has recently found itself a target for the latter, suddenly getting slammed with a wave of DMCA notices that appear to focus mostly on background music.

Copyright strikes are an occupational hazard for many Twitch streamers and content creators, but a recent surge of DMCA takedown requests has overwhelmed the community. Now, Twitch support staff has responded to complaints, stating that the claims are focused on clips with background music from 2017 to 2019, and recommending that streamers remove them. The tweets also state that this is the first time that Twitch has received mass DMCA claims against clips.

Given that Twitch is still most popular as a site for live-streams and let’s-plays of video games, the speculation is that a great deal of this is targeting clips that include video game music. And, as we’ve seen elsewhere, it’s also the case that scammers are currently using game music as a method to try to takedown or monetize the videos of others. Whether or not that’s what is going on here is anyone’s guess, as Twitch is making it fairly clear that the flood of notices is so large that it’s simply taking down content and advising its streamers to proactively take down anything that might include this sort of copyrighted content.

Except that leaves no room for a number of things, including arguments for Fair Use of certain music, not to mention streamers that may be using game music from individuals or companies that don’t mind their work being up on Twitch. In the case of the latter, this is where scammers can most insidiously insert themselves into the mix.

And, what’s more, even the lawyers are telling streamers not to counter the claims without getting an attorney, so fraught is the copyright landscape.

The action also prompted a response from advocates like Ryan Morrison, better known as the Video Game Attorney. Morrison advised content creators not to counter the claims without speaking to 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.”

So here’s this newly thriving ecosystem of Twitch streamers, creating content that is not a mere copy of anything, but may use some copyrighted content in streams, and a huge chunk of it could get disappeared either out of legal compliance by Twitch or proactive fear-based takedowns by the streamers themselves.

All over some clips including background music? I’m trying to picture myself explaining all of this to the framers of copyright law, but somehow I don’t think they’d get it.

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Companies: twitch

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Comments on “Twitch Faces Sudden Stream of DMCA Notices Over Background Music”

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23 Comments
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"Well, to be fair to them, the internet was in its infancy back then."

Considering that the framers of copyright law was the Guild of Stationers if you could make them understand just how it could be abused they’d exclaim "Wonderful! Better than we could ever dream of!" in star-struck tones or blissful joy.

No grifter ever complained his latest scam worked too well.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

From a possible response by a rightsholder:

"Well, when Twitter or Facebook do it, it’s corporate censorship. When a DMCA notice is sent out, it’s "protecting artist’s rights."

What’s that you say about the rights of the artists whose work is being taken down? They aren’t signed to our label so clearly their work isn’t as valuable as ours."

Anonymous Coward says:

Some games have an option to switch off in game music precisely so there’s no dmca notices sent to streamers. Apart from Nintendo the vast majority of devs have no problem with streamers playing their games, it’s a form of free advertising for the game.
Most streamers will simply take down the videos,
as they can, t afford to go to court.
No one wants to go to court to argue streaming a game is fair use.
Maybe some day a streamer like ninja will go to court. Eg someone who is very rich and can afford to fight a legal case.
Watching streams and gaming is more popular than ever as its safe as more people stay home for obvious reasons.
Even YouTube takes down many videos that could be
fair use.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

The way I read the article I was thinking the background music was not in game music but just general background music playing over a stereo or something… it may well be both.

If it is just general background noise not related to the game… the music industry has been going after these people for a long time on the likes of youtube.

If it is game music… this should not be a problem… how many games have an option to save clips or stream game play? I would think it is kind of the idea to be able to post game play online… kind of like free advertising.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m trying to picture myself explaining all of this to the framers of copyright law, but somehow I don’t think they’d get it.

Alex, imagine it like this… you’re in Congress, trying to explain why assuming state’s debts is a good idea, and you’ve got a string quartet playing in the background to make the crowd more receptive to your ideas.

And then Jefferson stands up and claims the quartet has to leave, because the piece of music they’re playing is under copyright owned by him and Madison.

Everyone laughs at you, and your proposal is rejected.

Anonymous Coward says:

A lot of streamers will play music from Spotify or the like behind their streams, so this is probably what they’re getting hit with DMCA claims about.

I’d love to see a major streamer or two shoot a few segments to replace the DMCA’d clips. Just the streamer on a boring background saying “In this clip you would have seen me (insert cool video game shenanigans or make a funny reaction to the game or chat), but (music label) thinks you might watch the clip for a minute of (song name) instead of buying or streaming just the song. If you disagree with that assessment, you could let them know at (dmca claimant’s email). Keep your flaming civil.” Then they can fight trolls with trolls.

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