Twitch Manages To Get Out Some 'Disappointment' With Music Industry Over Latest Round Of DMCA Claims

from the oooooh-disappointment! dept

The saga that has been Twitch's last six or so months is long and somewhat varied, so you should go read up on our historical coverage if you're not familiar with it, but we need to at least preface this post with the origins of how Twitch's bad time began. What has been a tumultuous several months began when it absolutely freaked out over a flood of DMCA takedown notices it received, mostly from the music industry. In response to that, and without warning to its creative community, Twitch nuked a bunch of content from the platform, mostly ignored the outcry from its creators, and did very little to put anything in place that would keep such a disastrous situation from happening again.

So of course it happened again. Twitch recently sent out an email that it had received roughly 1,000 additional DMCA takedown notices, almost all of them again over music playing in the background of recorded Twitch videos.

Said Twitch in its email on Friday: “We are committed to being more transparent with you about DMCA. We recently received a batch of DMCA take down notifications with about 1,000 individual claims from music publishers.

“All of the claims are for the VODs and the vast majority target streamers listening to background music while playing video games or IRL streaming. Based on the number of claims we believe these rights holders used automated tools to scan and identify copyrighted music in creators VODs and clips, which means that they will likely send further notices."

Of course they will. Twitch invited them to when it showed itself to be a willing partner in treating Twitch creators like a testing ground for DMCA cluster bombs. There are platforms out there that manage to both treat DMCA requests seriously and also provide some protection, or at least communication, to its users. A few tools for creators aside, Twitch's inaction on behalf of its creative community amounted essentially to greenlighting ever more DMCA takedowns from the music industry. Any surprise at that by the Amazon-owned company is laughable.

But this neutered, throwaway line from that same email is simply maddening.

“This is our first such contact from the music publishing industry (there can be several owners for a single piece of music) and we are disappointed that they decided to send takedowns when we were willing and ready to speak to them about solutions.”

As the old saying goes, be disappointed at the music industry's aggressive copyright enforcement in one hand and spit in the other and see which fills up faster. There is no substance to this disappointment. Of course the music industry has gone kazoo filing DMCA notices at Twitch. Twitch has made it clear its on their side, even making it easier than before to file these notices.

The real disappointment here is that Twitch, and by extension Amazon, has so wildly left its creative community out to dry when it comes to copyright enforcement and DMCA takedowns. It's simply not doing enough.

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Filed Under: background, dmca, music industry, streaming
Companies: twitch


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  1. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 3 Jun 2021 @ 8:35pm

    Well its clear they didn't know what Twitch actually was, cause they obviously don't understand their content creators or users...
    Of course they managed to ignore the history of the music industry declaring all out war over anyone hearing 3 notes of a song in the background.

    Do they need to listen to an mp3 on loop while they sleep to remind them to breathe?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 Jun 2021 @ 8:40pm

    Why fix what's broken in your favor?

    “This is our first such contact from the music publishing industry (there can be several owners for a single piece of music) and we are disappointed that they decided to send takedowns when we were willing and ready to speak to them about solutions.”

    Gee, it's almost as though they saw that Twitch was more than happy to nuke content upon accusation and figured why waste the time talking about 'solutions'(one guess what those would have been) when they can just file DMCA claims and let Twitch take it from there.

    Twitch made clear that they were happy to shoot first and think about maybe explaining the bullet holes later, what did they think would happen after giving themselves a reputation like that?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    xaxxon (profile), 3 Jun 2021 @ 8:52pm

    Twitch channels had been illegally using the music for so long..

    that I guess they thought it was legal.

    If you want to put music in a movie, you have to get a license for it. Why would it be any different in a stream?

    If you think having popular music in your stream will attract people, then it has value. That value should be shared with the people creating the music that you attribute value to.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 3 Jun 2021 @ 9:41pm

    If gaining value means you owe money...

    If that's how you really want to go then great, I look forward to the labels paying streamers for the attention and money that they gain from the extra attention and interest that streamers give them.

    Should be... oh I dunno, about the same amount that the labels want from the streamers.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2021 @ 10:17pm

    Re: If gaining value means you owe money...

    I think the balance probably tilts in the streamers favor for who's providing more value. I've discovered several songs and artists I absolutely love from watching twitch streams before the crackdown. On the other hand I've never watched a stream because of the music selected to play in the background. I have left a stream for music choice but never for not playing music.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2021 @ 10:41pm

    Re: If gaining value means you owe money...

    You don't get paid for publicity unless you get someone to agree to pay you for publicity.

    You don't just get to go and say "hey, I played your song for 209 people, now you owe me money"

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 3 Jun 2021 @ 10:42pm

    Re: Re: If gaining value means you owe money...

    The streamer provides no value to the rights holder playing already-popular songs on their stream.

    If the streamer wants to negotiate payment for playing songs from indie bands or something, then more power to them, but you don't just get to claim that you're doing someone else a favor so they owe you money.

    This is basic copyright law.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 4 Jun 2021 @ 12:16am

    Re: Re: Re: If gaining value means you owe money...

    The streamer provides no value to the rights holder playing already-popular songs on their stream.

    Yeah, not sure if you were aware but turns out there's an entire industry centered around hyping stuff, even already popular stuff, and either those newfangled 'advertisers' know more about the value of reminding and/or introducing people to content than you seem to or you know something they don't and you should go hit them up and tell them that they've been wasting their time and money.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. icon
    That One Guy (profile), 4 Jun 2021 @ 12:31am

    Re: Re: If gaining value means you owe money...

    You seem to have either missed the point or ignored it so just to make it really clear I was responding to the idea that if you gain value from someone else's stuff that means you owe them by pointing out that if that's the angle someone wants to take then unless they want to be hypocritical it needs to work both ways. If 'you played my music as background noise, give me money' is to be treated as reasonable then 'In so doing I gave you attention and possibly sales that you normally have to pay for, give me money for the value I gave you' becomes just as sensible.

    Having said that though I'd much rather see streamers and similar content creators respond with such demands by dropping that music entirely and going with music from artists that aren't so short-sighted and/or greedy, as I have little doubt that in very short order the labels/musicians who were complaining that streamers were 'stealing' their music would find out that whatever they might have been 'losing' from such use was more than made up for by the attention and interest it had been giving them, because it doesn't matter how good you think your stuff is if no-one knows about it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2021 @ 12:35am

    Re: Why fix what's broken in your favor?

    Though as history has shown it didn't matter what Twitch did as anything they did wouldn't have been good enough for the Music Industry.

    Also the article seems to miss that there is only so much Twitch can do with DMCA takedowns - the law basically requires them to pass on and action all requests otherwise they lose their safe harbour protection.

    Yes they could have some tools to help creators work out what parts of their content is the issue and offer tools to make counter-notices, but the law doesn't allow Twitch to consider whether notices are valid or not (and as the US ISP's have recently found out the courts are more than willing to assume all notices are valid and need to be actioned unless you want to lose your safe harbour) so they would still have received thousands of take-down requests.

    The only surprising thing is that it took the Music Industry this long to notice Twitch.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2021 @ 2:59am

    Re: Re: Why fix what's broken in your favor?

    Pretty much this. The problem isn't so much Twitch's handling of this (though it hasn't helped) but DMCA law itself allowing this to happen in the first place.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2021 @ 4:57am

    Re: Re: Why fix what's broken in your favor?

    And yet Google manages to consider whether it's millions of takedown notices are valid. There can be arguments made whether they're doing a good job at that consideration, but they certainly don't assume all notices are valid.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2021 @ 6:05am

    Re: Re: Re: If gaining value means you owe money...

    You may not realize this but there are separate licenses for the music (pay the composer/song writer and publisher) and performance (pay the artist) and historically over air radio broadcasters have only been required to license the music but not the performance. The reasoning is/was the broadcast of music was seen as promotional in nature for the artist[1]. So, saying a streamer provides no value flies in the face of decades of legal thought on the matter (albeit in a different but similar format). Note, I'm not saying the labels should be paying streamers just saying if you quantified the value between the streamer and music publishers / performers it is likely the music industry is getting more than they give.

    [1] https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R43984.pdf

    In 1995, the year Congress first required subscription digital services to obtain public performance licenses for sound recordings, it exempted radio stations from such a requirement.

    The Senate Judiciary Committee explained in 1995 that it was attempting to strike a balance among many interested parties, stating,

    the sale of many sound recordings and the careers of many performers have benefitted considerably from airplay and other promotional activities provided by ... free over-the-air broadcast ... [and] the radio industry has grown and prospered with the availability and use of prerecorded music. This legislation should do nothing to change or jeopardize [these industries’] mutually beneficial relationship.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2021 @ 7:06am

    How will it collide

    With their current on going controversy, the hot tub streamers? You know, the ones using nothing but top 100 hits turned way up and dancing? Curious how people will try defend those to avoid takedown and sweep it under the carpet to allow them to continue

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. icon
    James Burkhardt (profile), 4 Jun 2021 @ 8:43am

    Re: Re: Re: If gaining value means you owe money...

    Part of the issue is that a lot of the music is from gameplay, as in the accompaniment to the game actively being played. Swapping soundtracks would negatively impact that experience.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2021 @ 8:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Why fix what's broken in your favor?

    Like I said, Twitch's handling of this hasn't helped matters at all but the real problem is how DMCA law is allowing this to happen in the first place. You fix that and the rest will follow.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2021 @ 8:58am

    Re: Re: Why fix what's broken in your favor?

    but the law doesn't allow Twitch to consider whether notices are valid or not

    So hypothetically, if someone submitted a DMCA notice that just said the URL https://twich.tv/ contained to a VOD that contained copyrighted music Twitch would be forced by the law to take their whole site down?

    No, obviously not, that would be absolutely insane. So there must be some level where a site can say this notice lacks sufficient specificity.

    The only surprising thing is that it took the Music Industry this long to notice Twitch.

    Except they didn't just notice Twitch. Twitch has had a number of music related copyright enforcement policies including auto-detecting copyright music and muting VODs for the duration of the detected music.

    The real question is: What has changed in the relationship Twitch had with the recording industry that the mostly voluntary enforcement Twitch has been doing for years is no long sufficient?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2021 @ 10:12am

    Re: Re: Re: Why fix what's broken in your favor?

    The main difference is Google Search doesn't host any of the content DMCA takedowns are issued for so it's debatable as to whether the DMCA even applies to Google Search, which is likely why someone hasn't sued as they don't want a court to rule in Google's favour.

    Though given the successes the music industry have been having against ISP's the odds are someone will sue Google at some point, as from a legal point Google's failure to process DMCA notices means they lose their safe harbour protections for Search (and they may also get into trouble if like the ISPs they don't have a repeat infringer policy the court likes).

    However in the case of Twitch then Youtube is a better comparison than Search and Youtube do process DMCA notices. (Which has brought about plenty of complaints about false notices).

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19. icon
    Ninja (profile), 4 Jun 2021 @ 11:29am

    Ah the utterly broken copyright system showing its face. I've been reading TD for a decade now and oh boy this shit never change. And never will, crony capitalism is there to ensure it won't.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20. icon
    ECA (profile), 4 Jun 2021 @ 12:04pm

    I find it funny

    That the RIAA admitted that it sends DMCA for all music, even when they dont have the Rights to that music.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2021 @ 5:58pm

    Re: I find it funny

    It's not surprising. The RIAA knows they will never be held responsible even as their victims bend over backwards just to prove their innocence.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Jun 2021 @ 7:54pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: If gaining value means you owe money...

    That, and considering the license was already paid for to put the music in the game for everyone who plays the game to listen to, why should the streamer have to pay for another separate license? It's needlessly greedy.

    Then again, needless greed is the MO of the RIAA, so I shouldn't be too surprised.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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