Copyright strikes are an occupational hazard for many Twitch streamers and content creators, but a recent surge of DMCA takedown requests has overwhelmed the community. Now, Twitch support staff has responded to complaints, stating that the claims are focused on clips with background music from 2017 to 2019, and recommending that streamers remove them. The tweets also state that this is the first time that Twitch has received mass DMCA claims against clips. [Update: Dr. Disrespect has been banned from Twitch. Although the initial speculation pointed to this being related to a DMCA situation and thus resulting in a temporary suspension, sources have suggested the ban is permanent.]
📢 This week, we’ve had a sudden influx of DMCA takedown requests for clips with background music from 2017-19. If you’re unsure about rights to audio in past streams, we advise removing those clips. We know many of you have large archives, and we’re working to make this easier.
— Twitch Support (@TwitchSupport) June 8, 2020
The action also prompted a response from advocates like Ryan Morrison, better known as the Video Game Attorney. Morrison advised content creators not to counter the claims without speaking to an intellectual property lawyer. “You are quite literally telling them you are going to continue what you’re doing unless they sue you,” he tweeted. “Don’t threaten billionaire companies to sue you. Lawyer up.”
I know a lot of our friends and colleagues are worried about this Twitch/DMCA situation. We are helping a lot of creators already and my DMs are always open. But PLEASE do not counter without speaking to a lawyer (any IP lawyer). Understand the process and your rights first.
— Video Game Attorney (@Morrison) June 7, 2020
In follow-up tweets, Morrison noted that Twitch did not change their policies–instead, it appears that it’s merely being enforced in a meaningful way for the first time on the platform. He also said that streamers are mistaken if they believe that they can stream the game and its music because they “own it,” stating that you actually buy a license to play the game, and commercial use is usually not allowed under the terms of service.
He ends with a call to action: if streamers dislike these laws, they need to fight for policy change at the legislative level. “There are much more important issues going on in society right now, obviously, but the DMCA process needs a rewrite with where the internet is. Most streamers are 100% infringing. That needs to change,” he said.
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Update: In addition to VODs and clips, companies may also reportedly begin to target livestreams on Twitch as well. You can hear IP lawyer Noah Downs reference this in the video below.