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Twitch eyes new tools, licensing deals after 'understandably frustrating' DMCA takedowns

Twitch eyes new tools, licensing deals after 'understandably frustrating' DMCA takedowns

November 12, 2020 | By Alissa McAloon

Twitch is looking into ways to alleviate licensed music woes for the thousands upon thousands of streamers that use its platform after a sudden influx of DMCA takedowns blindsided its users last month.

Navigating licensed music can be a complicated process both in the game development world and for folks creating content on platforms like Twitch, meaning its important for both to understand how the agreements surrounding music can impact how a game is sold or shown off.

Twitch came under fire last month for how it handled a mass DMCA notification spree last month. Rather stick with the usual process for how such complaints would usually be handled, a large volume of DMCA notices promoted Twitch to instead delete content flagged as infringing, taking away streamers ability to appeal the complaints themselves in the process.

"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," wrote Twitch in an email sent out to those with allegedly infringing content. "In consideration of this, we have processed these notifications and are issuing you a one-time warning to give you the chance to learn about copyright law and the rules available to manage the content on your channel."

Twitch admits in a lengthy blog post that it mishandled the situation, and outlines what tools and resources it plans to introduce to better equip streamers to navigate music rights in the future.

In that post Twitch notes that most, roughly 99 percent, of the DMCA complaints were for songs streamers had playing in the background while they were live, but in some cases licensed music used within games triggered copyright claims from the rights holders in the archived versions of gameplay videos on Twitch.

Some developers have built toggles into their games that allow steamers to turn off licensed music completely, while others will release guidelines online to advise content creators on which songs will and won't land them in trouble.

On that front, Twitch's suggestion is that streamers see what individual games allow by perusing a game's EULA or, if unsure, "mute the game audio yourself" or "consider turning off VODs and Clips" altogether.

As folks have already called out online, neither of those options are a great solution to the problem. To that end, Twitch does say that it is working on tools for handling VOD and Clip management that it admits are already long overdue. Those include tools for detecting copyrighted audio, archive management utilities (as opposed to its current "delete all" option), the ability to control which audio shows up in recorded content, and the ability for streamers to review content accused of infringement once a DMCA notification is received.

"We are actively speaking with the major record labels about potential approaches to additional licenses that would be appropriate for the Twitch service," continues Twitch. "That said, the current constructs for licenses that the record labels have with other services (which typically take a cut of revenue from creators for payment to record labels) make less sense for Twitch. The vast majority of our creators don’t have recorded music as a part of their streams, and the revenue implications to creators of such a deal are substantial."

"We’re open-minded to new structures that could work for Twitch’s unique service, but we must be clear that they may take some time to materialize or may never happen at all. In the meantime, we’re focused on building tools to better help you manage VODs and Clips and providing licensed music options like Soundtrack, while we explore all options"

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