Twitch Continues To Trip Over Itself In Response To DMCA Apocalypse
from the do-better dept
What a few weeks for Twitch. You will recall that the platform went about pissing a ton of its talent and viewers off by nuking a metric ton of video content on the site in response to a flood of DMCA takedown notices, most of them from the RIAA. And this truly was the nuclear option, far different from the notice/counternotice system most platforms use. In fact, it was so extraordinary that it arguably lost Twitch its DMCA safe harbor. Regardless, when the company then followed up with a message to all Twitch creators that they should go educate themselves on matters of copyright and proactively delete any recordings or clips that might run afoul of copyright law, it created a cluster-fuck with virtually nobody having any idea how or what they should be doing. In response to the turmoil, Twitch brilliantly rolled out an announcement for a new emoji.
And it just keeps getting worse. This week, Twitch has finally come out with an apology to its talent, noting that the company, bought by Amazon in 2014, probably should have been able to provide better tools and a system that wouldn’t have required the mass deletion of millions of hours of recorded content.
“You’re rightly upset that the only option we provided was a mass deletion tool for Clips, and that we only gave you three-days notice to use this tool,” the company wrote. “We could have developed more sophisticated, user-friendly tools awhile ago. That we didn’t is on us. And we could have provided creators with a longer time period to address their VOD and Clip libraries—that was a miss as well. We’re truly sorry for these mistakes, and we’ll do better.”
Twitch also committed to developing additional tools that will hopefully grant streamers more granular control over their recorded content, audio, and reviewing/contesting copyright claims, but it did not provide a release date for those much-needed features. It went on to try and explain why it doesn’t just obtain music licensing rights like Facebook has for its livestreaming platform, but while it said that those solutions won’t work for Twitch in particular, it stopped short of explaining exactly why.
So, apology with a side of obfuscation that doesn’t actually put creators in any better a place than they were yesterday. There’s still no way to counternotice. No commitment from Twitch to supporting creators’ rights when it comes to fair use. And the explanation that a licensing deal with the music labels would take too much money away from Twitch creators considering how sparingly they use music in their streams comes along with two problems. The first problem is that the statement leads to an obvious question: You’re Amazon; why don’t you just eat the licensing costs and let us create?
But the second problem is that the DCMA apocalypse is continuing and it’s starting to get ridiculously granular.
This comes during an especially turbulent week on the DMCA front. In the past few days, streamers have reported getting targeted by copyright claims and Twitch’s automated systems for music and sound effects in games, as well as clips they’ve already deleted. One streamer, MichalRonin, had his audio auto-muted for broadcasting a wind gust sound in World of Warcraft.
“Only music I’ve had on stream was in-game WoW music, played by the game itself,” MichalRonin wrote on Twitter yesterday. “Yet I’ve got ‘muted audio’ on the latest VOD, apparently in Sen’Jin village.” He then posted a screenshot that mentioned a “Medium Wind Storm with Gusts, Whistles and Low Rumble” sound effect from the Hollywood Edge Sound Effects Library.
This example was one of many. If DMCA notices are suddenly going to start coming in and being acted upon over video game sound effects, never mind the game music that comes along with streaming a let’s-play, then Twitch is essentially over. On top of that, some streamers report that even covers of video game music are getting caught up in the DMCA takedowns. Still others received strikes for content that had already been deleted.
Streamer JasonParadise deleted all of his clips on October 23, the day Twitch resumed regular DMCA processing after holding back thousands for a handful of months.
“What the fuck was the point of deleting all of my VODs/clips back on October 23rd? The strike on an old clip (that no longer existed) came in ten days later,” he wrote on Twitter.
Questions to Twitch about all of the above by the media have gone entirely unanswered as of the time of this writing. It all paints a picture of a popular and well-traveled platform with a parent company that ought to be able to provide all of the capital, platform tools, and public messaging in the world… instead having none of that.
And with YouTube once again making a strong play for these kinds of streamers, one wonders just how long it all can last.