Amazon-owned live-streaming platform Twitch has made headlines twice this year for taking action against its users for copyright infringement.
The first time came in June, when the platform claimed to have received “a sudden influx of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown requests for clips with background music from 2017-19″, with the company threatening to terminate the accounts of “repeat infringers”.
It happened again last month, when Twitch was hit with “thousands” of DMCA infringement notifications over copyrighted music used in videos, with the situation described by some as a “bloodbath”.
Now, in a new blog post, the platform has apologized for such issues occurring, while conceding that its users’ “frustration and confusion with recent music-related copyright issues is completely justified”.
Writes Twitch: “Over the last several months, we have done our best to manage this situation on behalf of both rights holders and creators. One of the mistakes we made was not building adequate tools to allow creators to manage their own VOD and Clip libraries.
“You’re rightly upset that the only option we provided was a mass deletion tool for Clips, and that we only gave you three-days notice to use this tool. We could have developed more sophisticated, user-friendly tools awhile ago. That we didn’t is on us. And we could have provided creators with a longer time period to address their VOD and Clip libraries – that was a miss as well.
“We’re truly sorry for these mistakes, and we’ll do better.”
Twitch is legally required to comply with (DMCA) takedown requests served by rights-holders (for example a record label) or by an entity on behalf of a rightsholder, such as the RIAA in order to be protected under US safe harbor laws, and not be held liable for infringing user generated content on its platform.
The blog post promises Twitch users that “moving forward, we’ll be more transparent with what’s happening” in its conflicts with music rightsholders, and that it will also be more communicative over “tools and resources we’re building to help”.
Twitch adds that “if you play recorded music on your stream, you need to stop doing that” and “if you haven’t already, you should review your historical VODs and Clips that may have music in them and delete any archives that might”.
That’s because Twitch is still unlicensed by the major record companies and continues to receive “large batches of [DMCA] notifications”.
The platform says that it doesn’t “expect [these notifications] to slow down”.
“Until May of this year, streamers received fewer than 50 music-related DMCA notifications each year on Twitch,” reads the blog post.
It adds: “Beginning in May, however, representatives for the major record labels started sending thousands of DMCA notifications each week that targeted creators’ archives, mostly for snippets of tracks in years-old Clips. We were as surprised by this sudden avalanche of notifications as many of you were.”
Twitch recently launched a rights-cleared music service via deals with a bunch of indie distributors and labels, but it attracted criticism from some parts of the music industry for the way it is set up.
Twitch writes in the new blog post that its users’ best chance of avoiding future DMCA notifications is by using this service – SoundTrack – or other licensed alternatives such as Soundstripe, Monstercat Gold, Chillhop, Epidemic Sound, and NCS.
The company notes that some of its users “have asked why we don’t have a license covering any and all uses of recorded music” and confirms that it is currently in talks with the major labels about “potential approaches to additional licenses that would be appropriate for the Twitch service”.
“The current constructs for licenses that the record labels have with other services (which typically take a cut of revenue from creators for payment to record labels) make less sense for Twitch.”
AddsTwitch: ‘We are actively speaking with the major record labels about potential approaches to additional licenses that would be appropriate for the Twitch service.
“That said, the current constructs for licenses that the record labels have with other services (which typically take a cut of revenue from creators for payment to record labels) make less sense for Twitch.
“The vast majority of our creators don’t have recorded music as a part of their streams, and the revenue implications to creators of such a deal are substantial. We’re open-minded to new structures that could work for Twitch’s unique service, but we must be clear that they may take some time to materialize or may never happen at all.
“In the meantime, we’re focused on building tools to better help you manage VODs and Clips and providing licensed music options like Soundtrack, while we explore all options.”
Twitch has now published an FAQ about copyright infringement on the platform and created a user forum around the topic as well.
In August, at the House Judiciary Committee’s anti-trust hearing, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos said that he didn’t even know whether Twitch had licensed its music or not.Music Business Worldwide