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.

Filed Under: , , ,
Companies: riaa, twitch

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Comments on “Twitch Continues To Trip Over Itself In Response To DMCA Apocalypse”

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Booth Corner Seaton the Ith says:

Complied with DMCA for take-down: a counter doesn't matter.

nuking a metric ton of video content on the site … arguably lost Twitch its DMCA safe harbor.

There’s no reading of DMCA I see that requires the counternotices for the host site to retain its immunity: the content is OFF, claimants must necessarily be satisfied.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Complied with DMCA for take-down: a counter doesn't matter.

"There’s no reading of DMCA I see that requires the counternotices for the host site to retain its immunity…"

Then you need to learn to read – and particularly so the precedent case against Cox where there is at least one ruling which applies. The DMCA doesn’t say so straight out but it does place criteria around safe harbor which take effect here.

Twitch now either has as policy that they will remove any and all content based on any allegation…
…or they claim not to have that policy at which point any copyright troll can run the Judge O’Grady Cox argument that violating their own policy eliminated safe harbor.

Legally speaking Twitch has painted itself into a logic where no matter what they do they can not preserve their safe harbor unless, as you note, they keep taking everything down as soon as anyone asks.

But if they do that, Twitch is gone, because even if a thousand badly programmed bots don’t send a DMCA notice for any given clip, trolls certainly will.

Meanwhile Youtube has a counternotice process, albeit a cumbersome one, the maintenance of which costs content creators uploading to that platform many hours a week to use.

This is just another case of appeasing the schoolyard bully turning out to mean the bully escalates the bullying until the victim stops coming to school.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Complied with DMCA for take-down: a counter doesn't matter.

There are two safe harbors granted by the DMCA in this case. One is 17 USC 512 (c)(1), which protects the provider from action by the DMCA claimant if they take down the content.

The other is 17 USC 512 (g)(1), which protects the provider from anyone if they follow the notice/counternotice process.

It is possible, though success is unlikely, that someone other than the DMCA claimant could attempt to sue the provider for removing material in response to a DMCA notice and not allowing a counterclaim. I suspect this may have been intended as an option to force the provider to allow reposting of material taken down by erroneous or frivolous notices.

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Booth Corner Seaton the Ith says:

You're trying to assert that "creators" have a right...

… to counternotice, but seem to have forgotten Techdirt’s / Masnick’s position that HOSTS have a near absolute RIGHT:

"And, I think it’s fairly important to state that these platforms have their own First Amendment rights, which allow them to deny service to anyone."

https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170825/01300738081/nazis-internet-policing-content-free-speech.shtml

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: You're trying to assert that "creators" have a right...

Yes, they have the right to do this. We have the right to tell them that they are wrong to exercise the right in this case. Just as you have the right to speak, but the rest of us can tell you that you’re an idiot for choosing to speak the way you do.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: You're trying to assert that "creators" have a right...

"…but seem to have forgotten Techdirt’s / Masnick’s position that HOSTS have a near absolute RIGHT"

You really have a hard time reconciling "They have a right" with "..they’re dumb as hell using their right this way", don’t you, Baghdad Bob.

Yes, Twitch has the full authority to do what they did. Their property, their rules.
It’s just dumb as hell for them to do so when the people they are running off are the people they actually want to remain.

The real-world example of Twitch doing what they did would be that of a Bar owner making use of his authority over his own property to throw out anyone trying to buy a beer in his bar.

They have the right, yes. Using those rights have, in this case, the inescapable consequence that they are a lot worse a choice than their closest competitor.

I realize that basic logic just keeps going straight over your head though, because in your little world the concept of principles of law never existed.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: So Techdirt should see that near absolute RIGHT took over...

"Users / creators don’t have ANY rights up against a corporation’s (alleged by Masnick) "First Amendment rights". Period."

Correct, Baghdad Bob. Users/creators have no right to demand a private platform carry their works. You’re finally getting it!
Please let me be the first to congratulate you for finally mastering factual reality and object permanence. It only took you ten years or so…

What the OP points out and we comment on is that said platform in this case has acted like a bar owner who throws people out for trying to buy a beer at the bar. Fully within their right to do so, but having cut their main revenue stream off it’s arguable that "bar owner" won’t be in business for very long.

Twitch has acted like a clown, literally cutting off the branch it was sitting on. That’s their prerogative. Fully within their rights. It’s also dumb as hell.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: LEARN YOUR OWN GODDAM ASSERTIONS

"AND QUIT CONTRADICTING YOURSELVES."

We aren’t, though?

Twitch is fully within their rights to do as they wish on their own property. Not a single one here or in the OP has claimed otherwise.

They are also dumb as fuck for using their right in this way. Similar to the bar owner who throws people out for trying to buy a beer at his bar desk.

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Justin Parker (profile) says:

What are the steps of Avianca Numero De Telefono name change pol

To change the name of a passenger in the Avianca Numero De Telefono, there are two kinds of changes. First in the event that you have incorrectly spelled the name, at that point aircraft will allow you to redress the mix-up or on the off chance that you need to roll out any improvement in the lawful name, at that point you can even do that.

https://www.iairtickets.com/espanol/avianca-numero-de-telefono/

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Sending all the wrong messages

To call this whole debacle a clusterfuck for Twitch would be an understatement of epic proportions.

First they nuke a bunch of content out of nowhere, then they add insult to injury by blaming the users and suggesting that they, rather than Twitch or those sending the DMCA notices, need to brush up on the law, and then rubbing salt in the wound they release an emoji that people had been looking forward to as though nothing had happened.

As though all of that wasn’t bad enough now they’re flagging videos for sound effects and in-game soundtracks, even on videos that are already deleted… If the RIAA isn’t trying to kill the platform they’re doing a damn good job pretending to do so, and if the company doesn’t push back hard and/or scramble like mad to give their users the tools needed to contest claims and remove only questionable parts of a video Twitch may very well see a mass exodus of creators and their user-base drying right up as a result.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Sending all the wrong messages

"If the RIAA isn’t trying to kill the platform…"

We all know that’s exactly what they want to do though.

Twitch is fully in their right to toss everyone of their clients out of their property. No one can say differently.

Legally speaking, however, that means twitch has either violated their own ToS or that is what their ToS looks like. If it’s the former any copyright troll can invoke Cox/Judge O’Grady and claim Twitch has lost safe harbor.

If it’s the latter then RIAA can run Twitch into the ground just by loosening the reigns on their DMCA notice bots.

My take is that Twitch may discover this, pull a few other dumbfuck moves in sheer desperation, and once they’re done flailing Youtube’s already eaten their market share.

This is the cost of appeasing the copyright cult – the bullying escalates until the kid stops coming to school.

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Rocky says:

Another interesting fact..

It seems Twitch saves ALL vods and clips, even if a streamer deletes them. What’s worse it that all those vods and clips resides on a public server.

So if a streamer for example deleted a VOD because it contained personal information or something like it, it’s still available if you do a little digging on how to access the videos on the public server.

This also means that streamers are getting DMCA’d and banned for things they deleted weeks ago, because the bots are crawling the public server and the streamer can’t do anything about it. Twitch has gone in and manually handled this for the big streamers so those never got banned even though they had multiple strikes, and left the smaller streamers to fend for themselves.

What a dumpster-fire.

Yakko Warner (profile) says:

As if YouTube will be much better

And with YouTube once again making a strong play for these kinds of streamers, one wonders just how long it all can last.

YouTube is certainly no stranger to heavy-handed DMCA responses. While they do have a counterclaim process, it’s still heavily favored towards the complainant. I have a feeling those who flee to YouTube to escape DMCA action on Twitch are going to be sorely disappointed.

Mixer couldn’t compete. What else is there, Facebook Gaming?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: As if YouTube will be much better

"Mixer couldn’t compete. What else is there, Facebook Gaming?"

That is literally the place that Microsoft told people using Mixer to go, so who knows?

Historically, this is where a new social platform comes in play and takes the marketshare not satisfied by the incumbents, bit lets see what happens..

Yakko Warner (profile) says:

Re: Re: As if YouTube will be much better

That is literally the place that Microsoft told people using Mixer to go, so who knows?

They did, but then they didn’t do anything to support it. One of the big draws of Mixer is that it was super easy, barely an inconvenience to stream from the Xbox for even the most casual of streamers. They killed Mixer and said everyone should go to Facebook, but months later, the only app that streams from Xbox is Twitch. FB is completely absent. It’s like they just picked a name that wasn’t their biggest competitor in streaming, and wasn’t owned by Google, and just gave up.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: As if YouTube will be much better

Microsoft didn’t really buy Mixer for the game streaming aspect. They wanted it for the tech they used to built the xCloud service, They did try to push the service at one point, but it was only ever secondary to their plans and once it was clear that it was going to be a loss leader they didn’t want to support for a while when building the next gen on other services, they ditched it. They did indicate that they were going to allow some kind of streaming to multiple services that didn’t revolve around apps, but I’m not sure how that’s manifested on the new consoles.

But, the point stands – competitors do exist, people just need to use them. If the barrier to entry is as low as "my console doesn’t have a built-in app that takes zero effort to set up", I’m not sure what the solution is.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Comparing a broken finger to a missing hand

YouTube is certainly no stranger to heavy-handed DMCA responses. While they do have a counterclaim process, it’s still heavily favored towards the complainant.

Never thought I’d see the day I’d defend the train-wreck that is Youtube…

Yeah, YT has a clunky, heavily lopsided claim and counter-claim process, but at least with them it exists. YT’s system on those grounds may be bad but compared to Twitch’s they’re downright amazing, so as long as the creators aren’t expecting anything great they’ll still be quite happy I imagine.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

My current favorite I saw, before TwitMo, was someone having their video pulled b/c the sound of their blender was claimed to be a song by Skrillex. I mean we know that old people claim this new fangled music is just all noise but this is the peak of it.

It is a pity that those in Congress can’t seem to be bothered to notice how lopsided and unfair the entire system has become. That threatening life destroying fines for 3 seconds of sound might not make people respect copyright & might cause there to be less creators b/c the system offers them no protection but will make sure the sound of a blender is…

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

It is a pity that those in Congress can’t seem to be bothered to notice how lopsided and unfair the entire system has become.

I suspect that it’s even worse than that actually, in that they are aware of just how lopsided it is and either don’t see any problem with that or dare not object lest well paying ‘donor’ decide to look for a more agreeable politician.

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