The Twitch DMCA era has begun. The company has been hit with a deluge of DMCA takedown notices and has had to make an emergency decision to not remove content. At this time, Twitch has issued a one-time exception and will be warning users if they have any infringing content. As you could imagine, streamers are not very OK with this.
The problem with their solution is that Twitch is eliminating a key part of the DMCA process for the sake of their own convenience. Instead of hitting users with a strike, the company has opted to issue a “one-time warning.” This made it sound like Twitch would resume normal processes — including strikes against accounts that violate copyright — on Friday. But the outcome is far stranger.
It sounds like a lot of Twitch streamers were caught up in this, and that has been the key motivator for Twitch to give up. This sets a very disturbing precedent in which the platform will hit a point where they don’t care anymore based on pure volume. Twitch is owned by Amazon, they have the money to hire more staff, don’t even try to tell me they can’t afford to bring in more staff to help develop tools to deal with DMCA issues.
These Twitch DMCA takedowns appear to be legitimate, but there’s a problem. Is Twitch doing its due diligence and checking to make sure a claim is valid? Copyright trolls are a very common thing online. Often by misrepresenting themselves, an individual or company claims to hold rights to something they don’t. and is able to file a DMCA claim. This is often used for extortion or the illegal elimination of competition. Some cases even exist of channels stealing content from one YouTuber and then filing DMCA claims to try and silence the original creator.
What happens when the inevitable wave of copyright trolls and rights conglomerates descends on Twitch? The company will have to deal with that when it happens, and it will. The daily life of users on YouTube is to deal with the potential for both false claims and valid claims by rights companies, often which have no obvious connection to the music or content being claimed.
It seems that Twitch already has an answer to this, they’re going to start deleting VODs entirely. Twitch Support tweeted that “going forward, clips that are identified as having copyrighted music will be deleted without penalty to help ensure you do not receive DMCA notifications from rights holders.”
Will Twitch keep throwing up its hands and start mass-deleting channels? The response from many has just been to not play music you don’t have rights to. That’s going to be a huge problem for many streaming channels, even if they have permission to play music. One channel that jumps to mind, Critical Role, has permission to use various game soundtracks and other music during its broadcasts. If Twitch just starts annihilating VODs thanks to false copyright claims, that puts a lot of channels at risk.
Twitch claims that they will begin putting in the time to develop more tools. but this move doesn’t instill confidence in many streamer’s minds.
There are ways around the problem for now, but they involve a ton of work on the part of the end-user, instead of Twitch. The process involves removing VODs from a streamer account and either losing them or uploading them to another service. Twitch founder Justin Ignacio, who is no longer with the company, tweeted on Tuesday some third-party tools to speed up the process.