from the all-perfectly-normal-side-effects-of-the-copyright-regime dept
It appears another rightsholder is doing something that’s a.) well within its rights and b.) counterproductive. It’s also another example of how the DMCA is often used to enforce some weird caste system among creators, favoring the incumbents over the upstarts.
A post on Reddit and a short Twitter thread by Twitch streamer Josh Allen confirm IFPI (International Federation of the Phonographic Industry) is targeting Twitch streamers for playing music while recording. DMCA notices sent to Twitch are resulting in account suspensions which could turn into permabans if streamers continue to irritate IFPI.
IFPI can certainly target music from artists it represents. And Twitch’s terms of service make it clear it doesn’t tolerate copyright infringement. But the end result for streamers is possible account deletion, and that can lead to an actual loss of income.
For the most part, these notices seem to target music playing in the background of streams. For these streams, the music isn’t why people are tuning in. It’s, at best, an ancillary addition that exists alongside the gameplay that actually draws viewers. The system Twitch has in place is there to placate copyright holders. It seems a bit overkillish, seeing as it not only boots users from Twitch for 24 hours but deletes/disables anything else they’d previously recorded (VODs [videos on demand]).
The problem with IFPI’s actions is it won’t result in greater respect for copyright. Instead of working with streamers — especially the popular ones — to promote artists Twitch streamers use for background music, it’s instead targeted their livelihoods. It’s attacking “lost sales” that simply don’t exist. This isn’t file sharing. Very few people head to Twitch with the intention of listening to music for free. They’re there for the content created by Twitch streamers which happen to have music in the background. This isn’t one market destroying another. It could be two complementary markets (ContentID but for product placement of inadvertently featured artists) but IFPI has chosen to treat Twitch as just another Pirate Bay.
This gets more problematic considering IFPI’s history. IFPI has done things like target Creative Commons-licensed music posted more than a decade prior to the group’s bogus DMCA notice. While it loves the ease of use online DMCA submission systems provide, it has no desire to vet its takedown notices, which has allowed people unrelated to IFPI and its artists to engage in secondhand deletion of content IFPI doesn’t own. So, there’s a good chance some of these notices are bogus, but with almost no avenue for recourse, streamers are just going to have to sit through the suspension and, more likely, ensure nothing plays in the background of livestreams.
There are also some problems on the Twitch side. As is noted in the Reddit thread, some streamers may be taking paid song requests from viewers, which makes this far more problematic than simply doing the internet equivalent of turning the radio on. This may be what’s prompted IFPI’s recent interest in Twitch streamers (and Twitch’s apparently belated enforcement efforts). This might seem more justified, but this appears to be DMCA carpet bombing, not something targeting the worst offenders. Even so, there’s no market replacement here, just some unseemly behavior by streamers looking to side hustle as payola DJs.
In the end, what does IFPI actually get for the money it spends policing Twitch? Nothing but a bunch of pissed off streamers who will now avoid IFPI’s catalog when playing music. No new fans. No new sales. Just some more “because it’s there” DMCA enforcement that engenders more contempt for copyright holders. Nothing about this chain of events results in artists being paid more, and that’s supposed to be the reason IFPI does anything.