While the coronavirus pandemic was raging, artists and virtual events flocked to streaming sites like YouTube and Twitch to perform for their fans across the globe and raise money for charity. Over recent days, however, all kinds of artists on Amazon’s own platform have begun receiving DMCA complaints dating back years.
From the investigation of screenshots of users in social media, it appears that the RIAA (Recording Industry Association America) is the complainant in the majority of cases and that the songs come from many major label artists, some of whom are over 3 years old. Twitch, just like Facebook, Soundcloud and YouTube, is legally required to perform these takedowns if it wants to be protected under the Safe Harbor provision, which prevents a platform from being held liable for copyright infringement by its users.
I’ve been issued 2 copyright strikes on my channel (both from clips over a year old) in the past week and told that if they find one more violation in my clips, my twitch account will be permabanned. (1/4) pic.twitter.com/y8pft3spdq
— fuslie (@fuslie) June 7, 2020
Although it seems that Twitch has had policies regarding the use of copyrighted music for some time, they have been enforced very loosely, and some users may not have been aware of the policies or may have simply ignored them. Now streamers face possible account termination if they don’t delete all their clips that contain music they didn’t create, don’t own, or don’t have permission to use.
This may sound simple, but some games contain licensed music like GTA, Need For Speed and FIFA. If these instances are also logged, Twitch streamers are not allowed to include standard clips in-game videos because of the music already in the content.
While music copyright is a very serious issue, the timing of the complaints could not have come at a more frustrating time. Artists who have not been able to go on the tour have made heavy use of the platform and several events are planned to be broadcast via the platform, many of which also raise money for charity.
Some more prominent Twitch users have reported that they had more than the allowed violations, but their Twitch partner representatives have told them that they will be fine. So while those at the top may be able to avoid losing their accounts altogether, many of the smaller users may suffer.