Since COVID-19 began causing shows to cancel in March earlier this year, DJs have flocked to Twitch in droves for its community and ease of streaming. Twitch, before typically geared toward gaming and slice of life streamers, even added a new Music tab on at the top of its site to make finding music streams easier. Now, streamers are suddenly getting hit with a new wave of DMCA takedowns that are making them worry.
To be clear, Twitch’s rules on music streaming have been in place for years. It appears, for whatever reason, that rights holders are now becoming more proactive in seeking out copyright violations on the site as many popular streamers have been hit with multiple takedowns and notices over the past 24 hours.
I’ve been issued 2 copyright strikes on my channel (both from clips over a year old) in the past week and told that if they find one more violation in my clips, my twitch account will be permabanned. (1/4) pic.twitter.com/y8pft3spdq
— fuslie (@fuslie) June 7, 2020
Any other streamers get hit with some copyright stuff recently? The heckkkkkkk we supposed to do? 🙁
I can't go through 100,000 clips and delete anything that has some music in it.
If things continue this way doesn't that mean 90% of the streamers on Twitch are donezo? pic.twitter.com/ZXywc9PznV
— Jake'n'Bake @ LA 🇺🇸 (@jakenbakeLIVE) June 7, 2020
According to Creator Hype, RIAA is responsible for a majority of the claims that streamers have shared on social media. Twitch is also legally obligated to follow through on these takedowns in order to be protected by Safe Harbor, a provision that states a platform cannot be held liable for the copyright infringement of the users on the platform.
The issue with this latest wave of strikes is how far back they go, some as early as 2017. When streamers like Jakenbake and Fuslie have over 100,000 clips with potentially copyrighted music, and Twitch’s own system fails to let them access old clips to delete, they’re essentially screwed. Creators have to manually delete each clip one by one — the good news is, copyright holders also have to manually go through clips to find infringing content. Twitch does not currently have a content ID system in place like the one YouTube implemented and then made more aggressive in 2015 in response to a filing to the US Copyright Office by Universal Music Publishing Group.
I’m willing to do anything to keep my channel, even if it means deleting all my clips and memories from the past years. I feel so helpless right now. I’ve built this channel up for 5 years and to potentially lose it all so fast to something like this would be devastating. (3/4)
— fuslie (@fuslie) June 7, 2020
The onus falls upon streamers to protect themselves from takedowns, and that means stopping the use of any copyrighted music immediately and going through old clips and removing them, to the best of their ability. In 2015, Twitch released songs that you can use on stream without fear of DCMA. If you are going to continue to use copyrighted music and throw caution to the wind, do not monetize it; do not make your stream sub only.
The outcry on Twitter about the strikes appears to stem from a lack of knowledge on Twitch’s policies. Many express that they’ve known this was coming for a long time, and are just now choosing to play by the rules, demonstrating a previous effort to ignore them — at least until they got caught. Known targeted songs so far include Ariana Grande – “7 Rings,” 50 Cent – “In Da Club,” Bee Gees – “Staying Alive,” and DNCE – “Cake by the Ocean.”