Twitch Flags Let’s Play Of ‘Project Zomboid’ Over Copyright Of Police Siren

from the siren-song dept

We have long lamented how the current method for many streaming platforms to enforce copyright laws, be they via automated systems like ContentID at YouTube or DMCA reporting platforms, is wide open for fraud, abuse, and mistakes. There are a huge swath of posts just on ContentID you can go check out if you’re not aware of how completely borked this all is, but you can also look at specific examples such as a video getting flagged for infringement due to birds singing in the background. It’s a full on mess and it doesn’t appear to be getting any better.

But YouTube is certainly not the only platform that experiences hellacious copyright enforcement SNAFUs. Twitch has also had a rough go of it over the past few years, much of that due to the platform’s own poor communication and implementation of copyright enforcement. But those more global issues aside, Twitch also still suffers from the more banal examples of this sort of thing. A recent example of that would be a Twitch stream of a let’s play for the video game Project Zomboid getting flagged for copyright infringement due to a police siren sound that is featured in the game.

The issue was first raised by Menos Trece, who has over a million subscribers on Twitch and over two million on YouTube. After streaming Project Zomboid gameplay to tens of thousands of viewers, Twitch informed him that he had broadcasted copyright-infringing audio.

As it turns out, there was no problem with copyrighted music. Instead, a police or ambulance siren sound effect used in the Project Zomboid game was the culprit. This sound was claimed by an entity named “Dr. Sound Effects,” who apparently own the rights to a police car siren.

As a result, portions of the stream were muted. The developers of the game, The Indie Stone, eventually chimed in, claiming that the copyright claim was utter bullshit. The company quickly theorized that some troll out there looking to create chaos entered in the sound of a siren as a copyrighted sound and predicted this would create similar problems with let’s-plays for other games. Regardless, the developer owns the rights to the sound in its game.

And on top of that, disputing this with Twitch would require all kinds of information a streamer might now want to divulge.

Menos Trece can still appeal the false claim as well, but that means sharing all sorts of private details with the streaming platform. In addition, it may open the door to a lawsuit in the US.

“To make a simple dispute, Twitch asks you for ALL your personal data and ‘threatens’ that you could go to court in the USA,” the popular gamer comments on Twitter.

And who would want to risk that over the sound of a siren in a let’s-play? Very few people. Except that kind of sucks, doesn’t it? Some jackass out there gets to create problems for streamers streaming a game where the developer has no problem with the stream, but it gets screwed with because of said jackass?

Surely that can’t be what the framers had in mind when they developed American copyright law, right?

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Companies: twitch

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Comments on “Twitch Flags Let’s Play Of ‘Project Zomboid’ Over Copyright Of Police Siren”

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Anonymous Coward says:

The real problem here is obvious – the siren is a publicly owned device, and any sound emanating from it is, by simple deduction, also in the public domain. Thus, the video’s owner and the game company should sue Twitch (with the vid owner as John Doe) to overturn the muting, and particularly to enjoin Twitch from a) asking for non-essential private details; and b) threatening non-viable “USA court” action against non-US citizens.

That would get Twitch’s attention, and perhaps, just perhaps, they’d think twice about “enforcing” copyright for the damnedest things. Here’s hoping that the mere threat of such will awaken Twitch all the sooner.

Anonymous Coward says:


You fail to understand the DMCA and dealing with thousands of notices. The law is written so that the receiver of the notice takes down the notified content if the notice has all required fields filled in. The DMCA does not give the receiver of the notice a risk free option to decide whether or not the actual copyright claim in the notice is valid. Also, would you let a minimum wage employee make decisions that could land the company with an expensive legal fight? Win or lose, such a fight costs the company.

Twitch, through whoever looked at the notice, did what the law required, and that is act on the notice.

Anonymous Coward says:


The real problem here is obvious – the siren is a publicly owned device, and any sound emanating from it is, by simple deduction, also in the public domain.

Any sound effect is never recorded in the wild, hence the term “sound effect“. What if everyone was to post videos of actual police sirens on Twitch, though…?

Anonymous Coward says:

Does anyone realize, especially Twitch, that from now on this clown could legally sue every major studio in Hollywood for any movie that contains a police siren? (But only those made after the date his copyright was granted.) How did this get past the copyright office in the first place, that’s the magic question.

rasz_pl (user link) says:

Claiming stuff using contentID is very lucrative:

“How Did Two Unknown Latin Music Operators Make $23 Million From YouTube? The IRS Says They Stole It”

MediaMuv initiated the scam by signing a CMS administration agreement with AdRev “to assist [MediaMuv] in administering the music [it] fraudulently claimed” in the spring of 2017

took 4 years to stop two people using YT contentid and stealing $20mil despite people recognizing its a scam immediately in 2017.

Charlie Brown says:

When Is Public Domain No Longer Public Domain?

I started a YouTube channel to upload good DVD copies of the public domain Looney Tunes cartoons to, rather than the ugly worn out prints most places have.

One of the first cartoons I put up was “A Corny Concerto” from 1942, a parody of Disney’s “Fantasia” and well known for being in the public domain for not having its copyright renewed (PD as of 1971). After it was there for a few months, I got a copyright claim from some company I’d never heard of claiming the Sydney Symphony Orchestra performed the music. It wasn’t a strike, just a demonetization. Rather than fight it, I took it down.

At the same time, I had uploaded the first of the Superman cartoons from Paramount Pictures from the 1940’s. It is well known that these are in the public domain from not having their copyright renewed (PD from 1969 to 1974), although Superman and other characters may be copyrighted to Warner Brothers through DC Comics. This cartoon now has a ContentID match for the theme song, as it was released a couple of decades ago on CD by the composer’s daughters. I cannot argue that this film uses that music but I feel like I’m missing something here.

So are these films in the public domain? I’m not certain any more, although I am pretty sure. But YouTube says they are not. And it feels like The ContentID System is The Law. At least on YouTube.

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