Popular Twitch streamers are being hit by waves of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notifications forcing them to delete old clips or face account termination. Some partnered streamers are on the edge while others have already been terminated. This has been a devastating blow to the Twitch platform, and it has left some streamers wondering what, if anything, they can do to avoid it in the future.
The issue began to rear its head on October 20th. Streamers like Mongraal, LIRIK, and Sonii began to post on Twitter that they were receiving emails from Twitch informing them that videos on their channel contained content that violated the platform’s music guidelines.
“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.”
At first it looked like a simple notification, but the confusion quickly turned to anger. The response from Twitch to the DMCA requests was to remove and delete content from partnered streamers pages without warning and handout DMCA strikes without any proper guidance. Streamer Devin Nash had this to say about their practices:
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
The only concrete piece of information provided on the 20th was that all streamers had until the 23rd to remove any and all content that could be in violation of the music guidelines. After that Twitch would “resume the normal processing of DMCA takedowns”.
Where we are today
That brings us to today. The second wave of takedowns are fully in effect. One of the platform’s most popular Fortnite streamers, Clix, was given a second DMCA strike despite, he claims, having followed the guidelines set out by Twitch. Another partnered streamer, SquishyMuffinz, announced that his account had been terminated.
The host of Twitch News, Zach Bussey, tweeted a pretty severe warning about what could potentially cause a DMCA strike,
Keep in mind, 'not playing music' is the basic advice.
If you watch movie trailers, or react to a Tik Tok dance, or watch a concert in Fortnite… all those things can lead to DMCA takedowns.
No VODs/Clips also proves not to protect you!
Be OVERLY careful!
— Zach Bussey (@zachbussey) November 2, 2020
It seems like nearly anything that contains copyrighted material could lead to a DMCA strike. Even the argument of “Fair Use” may not apply to strict guidelines set in place at Twitch.
What does this mean?
Noah Downs, a lawyer at Morrison Rothman LLP that also works in gaming, wrote:
“Looked at a few of these DMCA emails, they don’t identify the content taken down, who sent the notification, or provide an opportunity to respond to the takedown with a counter-notification as required under the DMCA. No chance to defend yourself.”
These DMCA strikes are outdated and inefficient, but the worst offender in this whole situation is Twitch. Their handling of the strikes are heavy-handed and confusing. Even Facebook Gaming, with all their faults, have come up with a relatively elegant and beneficial solution for music on streams. Twitch, the supposed industry leader, has a long way to go.