My take on recent DMCA fiesta on Twitch

Bit delayed, I know, but think having my position on all this fiesta somewhere out there for people to see would be kinda nice. Not really playing a lot of music on my stream and don’t really watch a lot of streamers who do, but still…

First thing about all the DMCA situation and streamers getting suspended, receiving copyright strikes and removing their clips and VODs is that it’s not Twitch’s fault, a lot of people automatically blame Twitch for everything that happens around it, but at least this time they have nothing to do with it, because DMCA is a law, law that Twitch needs to follow, they don’t have a say in all that – if content breaches copyrights they need to remove it in couple of days maximum or they will face consequences. Way the handle that content removal is another question of course, could be probably better, like on Youtube when it’s more transparent and without suspending whole channels instantly for some song in the background, not to mention some false positives that took some irrelevant noise as a song and suspended someone – that should be worked on and fixed. Should probably provide better tools for streamers to manage their content, which in the end were made by enthusiasts posting their scripts for streamers to use, that would allow them to mass remove content and back it up, which is another issue, because just deleting whole highlight or something that is basically a memory, not just content is a bit too harsh.

In any case Twitch said they are working to address issues on their side, but yeah DMCA is not gonna disappear. People reeing hard about “new” TOS about music are a bit misguided, because that TOS is one year old and happened during last year’s DMCApocalypse when bunch of channels also got suspended, but it was claimed to be a misfire of some copyright holder’s automated system, still it was a strong signal that things might get serious any time and instead of misfire some automated systems at some point might start going after Twitch content for real, so they already put changes there to prepare us and themselves for that, now year after it actually happened and some people see it as something new and surprising.

Music on streams as pretty much any content on Twitch that is not your own, so even games if you think about it, are complete grey area in terms of DMCA and copyright law, you can all remember Nintendo taking down channels for their games etc, that is exactly one of the forms of the issue we have now, so it is not new at all and also not going anywhere until copyright laws will be reformed and actualized, because they are pretty old and no one knew anything about streaming ans all that stuff back when it was written. Will they be rewritten? Kinda hard to imagine, because there are some big people and strong lobby involved with all the labels and whole industry, but in the same time it also might bring them more money, when they realize that influencers are actually exposing a lot of people to their intellectual property and a lot of people would probably never even learn about their music without hearing it on some stream (I got a couple of bands in my list that way personally and I’m very conservative with my music tastes, so I rarely explore things on my own, so I’m sure it would be hard for them to get to my ears otherwise). Gaming industry already realized how valuable influencers can be, even though they just distribute their content for free to many people and even profit from it without paying any royalties – it still brings companies way more money than they lose from it, enough for them to even sponsor people to play their game live, to send free keys to them so they play their game etc. Hopefully musical industry can understand it and at least provide more DMCA safe approach, so even if law is not changing we still can listen to music on streams etc.

Why in general streamers shouldn’t really be affected by music DMCA (imqhotbqh of course)? If it’s a videogame streamer, arts streamer or any streamer really that is not centered around music (like some DJ streamers), then music is not your main “attraction”, people come to your channel to watch games and not to listen to music and totally not to hear some particular song, so you aren’t really providing people with way to get what they want for free, not to mention you also do other stuff over it and it’s not just pure music playing. In the end what you actually provide is an access to a bunch of people who might hear that music for the first time and like it, so worst case labels don’t lose anything from streamers playing their songs, but best case they are getting new audience.

For me personally that wasn’t a big hit though, because I mostly listen to game OSTs for a while already and my VODs are even mostly not muted, except bits from Fallout 76 radio for example (which I now try to avoid, which is not that simple sometimes since there are radios just placed in game playing music and you need to turn them off, unless maybe volume settings can control that too, I wonder). Problem is game OSTs are also DMCA protected and you never know if they will enforce that too, but I think since game developers and publishers already know about the power of Twitch, they should be fine with their OSTs being played and all the current situation might benefit them too in a way, because more streamers will switch to OSTs and there will be more people in chats asking “where is this song from?”.

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