Twitch has proceeded to delete a wave of videos from partnered streamers earlier this week in its strongest action against copyrighted content yet. Streamers had no say in Twitch’s decision to mass ban content found to include copyright-infringing material.
Streamer Devin Nash posted an email they received from Twitch that informed them, and many others, that their videos have been deleted.
“We are writing to inform you that your channel was subject to one or more of these DMCA takedown notifications and that the content identified has been deleted,” the email states. “We recognize that by deleting this content, we are not giving you the option to file a counter-notification or seek a retraction from the rights holder.”
It is INSANE that @Twitch informs partners they deleted their content – and that there is more content in violation despite having NO identification system to find out what it is. Their solution to DMCA is for creators to delete their life’s work. This is pure, gross negligence. pic.twitter.com/mhdXU5lEc5
— Devin (@DevinNash) October 20, 2020
Twitch’s email says that in lieu of a counter-notification, streamers should treat the email as a warning and to learn more about Twitch’s copyright policy.
“It is insane that Twitch informs partners they deleted their content – and that there is more content in violation despite having no identification system to find out what it is,” Nash wrote in a tweet. “Their solution to DMCA is for creators to delete their life’s work. This is pure, gross negligence.”
The decision by Twitch to enforce DMCA on content has incited panic among streamers. Especially since many of them are not fully aware which of their videos might contain copyrighted material.
Some are worried that Twitch will ban their channels completely if they fail to expunge copyrighted content, which might require streamers to scrub through hundreds of hours of their videos to find.
“So Twitch just threatened my account with termination if I ever get DMCA’d again,” writes streamer @BikiniBodhi. “They didn’t tell me what got striked, Nor did they… tell me who issued it… so I can’t even appeal/remove the strike.”
So @Twitch just threatened my account with termination if I ever get DMCA’d again,
They didn’t tell me what got striked,
Nor did they didn’t tell me who issued it. (for all I know it could be a random person), so I can’t even appeal/remove the strike.
— BikiniBOOdhi FNATIC (@BikiniBodhi) October 20, 2020
In the meantime, streamers are sharing third-party tools that will let them mass download their videos in case something happens to their channel. Meanwhile, Twitch says it’s continuing to develop tools to help creators navigate DMCA.
Original Story: Last month Twitch streamers found themselves hit with a wave of DMCA takedown requests for clips that feature licensed music. For creators with hundreds of clips saved featuring various music in the background, this became a huge headache as they were asked to manually remove violating clips, which for some could be as many as hundreds of videos saved.
What Is DMCA?
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a federal law that’s become quite infamous with the rise of social media services, particularly YouTube. Essentially, it gives the copyright owners the ability to call out unlicensed use of its products and request they be taken down.
While YouTube creators are familiar with the DMCA Twitch’s situation is unique in that the requests seem to come all at once, very quickly. Twitch’s official Support account acknowledged the takedown requests, but simply advised users to remove those clips. For users with large archives, Twitch says it’s “working to make this easier.”
Twitch’s DMCA Guidelines
Twitch’s guidelines on DMCA states that “It is our policy to respond to clear notices of claimed copyright infringement that fully comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In addition, we will promptly terminate without notice the accounts of those determined by us to be “repeat infringers”.”
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How Does DMCA Affect Streamers?
The DMCA is infamous, but it’s also misunderstood. The Act primarily protects the interests of the copyright holder while also giving protections to digital platforms that would previously be liable for hosting copyrighted content that was uploaded without their knowledge.
“Most people think of the DMCA as something used against infringers,” says David Hoppe, Managing Partner at SF-based Media/Tech law firm Gamma Law. “But actually DMCA takedown requests are not sent to infringers. DMCA takedown requests are sent by copyright owners to sites that have content posted by users, and that content infringes the copyright. This could be a product review on Amazon, an essay posted on Medium or a YouTube video, for example.”
The purpose of the DMCA is to protect those platform owners, like YouTube or Twitch, from liability from the copyright holder, in case a user on the platform posts infringing content. “Any legitimate site will take a takedown request seriously and notify the user to take the content down so that the site will not have the risk of being sued by the copyright owner,” Hoppe says.”
Is there Free Music Twitch Streamers Can Use? Yes.
Twitch has rolled out a new feature called Soundtrack by Twitch which lets creators easily find rights-cleared music that integrates with streaming software. The Soundtrack Library makes it so that streamers can play music on top of their videos without worrying about DMCA Takedowns, because all the songs included has already been cleared legally.
A version of the Soundtrack tool is already available for OBS.
What Can Content Creators Do If They’re Hit With a DMCA Takedown Request?
Hoppe says that creators, like streamers, can send a counter-notice through the platform and their content will be put back up. “The copyright owner then has a limited time within which to file a lawsuit against the user. So if the creator gets a counter-notice back, they have to decide quickly whether it’s worth escalating to a lawsuit. Otherwise, the content could just stay up indefinitely.”
While platform holders will followthrough with DMCA takedown requests, there are steps creators can take if their content is taken down. However, these extra steps could lead to further litigation.
“The [content creator] will have to evaluate the legitimacy of the takedown request. If there is a credible claim that the creator’s content infringes on the other party’s copyright? If there is no credible basis, then the creator should file a counter-notice, and the site will be required to put the content back up. If it’s a closer call and there could be infringement, then the creator should consult a copyright lawyer and make the decision whether to file the counter-notice and possibly wind up in court.”
Matt T.M. Kim is a reporter for IGN.