Twitch originally started as a place for gamers to stream their adventures and misadventures to a captive audience. It has long since outgrown that singular purpose, however, as it expanded to cover art streams, instructional videos, and a lot more. Often, these streams would play music in the background, unaware that they might be infringing on someone’s copyright. That’s what DMCA notices are for and Twitch is now explaining the rather ugly situation that faced its creators and streamers these past months thanks to a massive influx of copyright infringement claims.
It’s not unusual for services like Twitch and YouTube to receive such claims which then results in an allegedly offending video to be taken down, at least until the matter can be resolved. Since May, however, Twitch reported thousands of such notifications each week, which it discovered were filed against extremely old videos-on-demand or VODs from years ago. The influx caught Twitch unprepared and revealed how ill-equipped it was to actually handle DMCA cases.
The Amazon-owned service admits it could have done things better, even before the flood of DMCA notices came rushing in. Beyond just handling those specific cases, however, it also admits it didn’t have many tools in the way of letting creators manage videos beyond a mass “delete all” option and individually selecting videos to be removed. Unlike YouTube, it also didn’t have a tool that would analyze videos and warn users that they were using copyrighted content.
Twitch promises that these improvements will be coming but, for now, its only advice is not to use copyrighted musing in streams. It does have a collection of rights-cleared music and also encourages creators to look for other similar sources for music.
Unfortunately, this episode also touches on the rather thorny topic of copyright and fair use. Games being streamed, for example, may have non-obvious restrictions that disallow streamers from playing even in-game music. Despite the “Millennium” in its name, such laws have not been able to quickly adapt to the fast-changing Internet landscape and we’re sure to see more such issues crop up as the recording industry continues to swing the DCMA hammer everywhere it sees.