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The Twitch DMCA Drama, Potential Jail Time for Streamers!

Update 12/10/2020: Serious repercussions for streamers ahead possibly!

Let me say this now; I’m not happy about having to write this article. However, this issue is too important to be ignored and simply continue writing as I have been.

There has been a wave of emails going out to Twitch partners that have stated that some of their VODs are being deleted to comply with DMCA claims. These deletions aren’t just affecting partners either, but the catch is that they aren’t telling you what videos are being removed, nor are they telling them the reason why the DMCA was issued, to begin with.

This is a major failure on Twitch’s part, big time.

Twitch DMCA Termination Threat
Screencap from Twitter – See the original post

This Twitch DMCA drama has been in the making from day one of Twitch, due to their lax enforcement of copyright violations. I mean, to be fair, it is an impossible task to keep every single streamer on the platform in line, all 3.8 million of them, simply due to the nature of a live streaming environment. However, it is this lack of enforcement of the rules of copyright-protected materials that led to this mess to begin with.

Now, this issue isn’t Twitch’s alone. There is blame to be shared on both sides here. As stated above, the issue that I have with Twitch is their reluctance to just outright say, “Don’t use copyright-protected music/sound clips on stream that you don’t have the permission for.” As for the userbase? The streamers that are now panicking about their old content, some of which that goes back over 10 years? Many were content to raise the middle finger to Copyright law, thinking that the only bad thing that could happen was “A Vod Mute.”

Well, I can’t say I didn’t warn you. It was only a matter of time before the copyright-abuse bubble popped.

First off: What you need to know about DMCA

UPDATE: Watch this video!! (Profanity warning.)

DMCA is a law and one that everybody needs to abide by if their intent is to be a content creator of any kind, including being a live streamer. You can’t shrug off the law, stating “But it’s basically free advertisement! Why should they care?”. They care, because like you, they worked their rears off making that song, that soundtrack, that whatever. Then these ignorant streamers come along and are now just plucking that thing they worked so hard on from the internet to use in their own content, without paying their dues.

Any piece of content that you use, that you didn’t create yourself, was created by somebody just like you. They are content creators as well. Maybe they create different things, but the fact remains is that they create digital content.

It is one thing if you are given express permission by the copyright holder(s) themselves, in writing. It is another thing entirely if you just do it and expect to get out of it scot-free. Oh, and that “in writing” bit is important, especially if you plan to dispute accidental DMCA claims in the future…assuming Twitch decides to let you do that I suppose.

Anyways, if you’d like to learn more about DMCA, and I strongly recommend that you do read this stuff and get a solid understanding of it, please refer to “The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998” by the US Government.

Anyways, if you’d like to learn more about DMCA, and I strongly recommend that you do read this stuff and get a solid understanding of it, please refer to “The Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998” by the US Government.

Understanding the law as it is written, from the source, is the only way to have a solid understanding of what is expected of content creators. I will say that this law does need to be revisited to properly cover the modern internet media, but It is your responsibility to know the laws that affect you.

Twitch DMCA Folly – Where they messed up big time

…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…

Twitch’s Email to DMCA claim recipients

Yeah… Let’s also consider this response by Twitch to a user on Twitter by the name of @katestark.

Twitch DMCA response to katestark's tweet on Twitter
Twitch’s response to the situation to one user

So, That isn’t cool, at all. This is the biggest disaster of the whole situation; Twitch is simply disenchanting your content into data dust. And heck, it could have only been about 1 minute or so as the cause. Twitch took it upon themselves to delete your multi-hour work because it had a DMCA claim for 1-10 minutes of its content, rather than simply snipping the video after the fact, keeping your content mostly-intact.

What about “Fair Use”?

If you have to ask, then you probably shouldn’t use it. Always ask for permission before you have to beg for forgiveness, especially when it comes to your potential livelihood.

But, if you are intent on claiming fair use, can you say, with absolute certainty, that your content was engaging enough to stand on its own? Can you afford the court battles against these label companies who have teams of lawyers for this exact thing? If so, then I wish you luck. Honestly? It isn’t worth the trouble when there are alternate means available.

“But… I need music for my audience! It’s a part of the show!”

Is It worth possible Jail time?

If your content can’t stand on its own without the crutch of music to back it up, then you need to figure out how to evolve your content to where it does. That said, music is nice, and there are stream-safe music resources available, so if you are insistent on having music, then that would be the first step. Of course, that isn’t a blanket immunity to DMCA claims; the only thing that is true immunity is to use music that you create yourself.

Then, at least if you get a claim, you can just refute it, because you are in the right (Again, if Twitch lets you I guess). This is, of course, assuming the DMCA didn’t come from any sound effects, gifs you put up on stream, memes, or whatever your content was based on. I know Nintendo is very protective of its video game assets; The game content itself has been a target in the past.

No matter what your opinion on the matter of the stream-safe music is, if you want to avoid having your content removed, then it is a small price to pay.

What can be done about these Twitch DMCA claims?

Are you a recipient of one of these emails? First, let me say sorry to you, that really sucks. This Twitch DMCA debacle is pretty bad, and you should have been aptly informed.

There are a few protective measures that you can take, some more extreme than others. Personally, If you want my opinion, The First one on this list should be strongly considered if you want to control exactly what happens to the content that you create.

Kaypocalypse's take on the Twitch DMCA situation.
Kaypocalypse’s take on the email
  1. Create your own Content platform, and start fresh. Proceed to Step Two, and do that too
  2. Delete your old VODs yourself to avoid claims

Look into Glimesh if you want to learn how to create your own live streaming platform. Just know that as a Content platform owner, you will need to pay for hosting, and your domain. The domain is pretty cheap, but the hosting can cost you an arm and a leg, given the nature of live streaming. Bandwidth isn’t cheap, sadly.

If you know that you have used copyright-protected music/sound clips in the past, the safest bet is to delete every single VOD you have made. However, before you do that, I do recommend downloading all of your VODs, and manually go through them. Find clips where your music is stream-safe. Or you can just throw it all away.

I know this isn’t the news you wanted to hear, but this is the price that is due for something like this.

If it’s any consolation, maybe this Quote will help you feel better.

“Don’t be afraid to start over again. This time, you are not starting from nothing; You are starting from Experience.”

Random Quote I heard on a stream from somebody encouraging an ex-mixer streamer. I don’t remember their name 🙁

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