Twitch has informed streamers across its platform that it has deleted content violating music copyright laws after receiving “a sudden influx of DMCA takedown requests” in June. The company sent the notice to streamers on Tuesday. In it, the company said it would resume “the normal processing of DMCA takedown notifications” on Friday. It had paused processing requests after the summer influx.
DMCA, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, controls how copyrighted material is used online, and there are provisions that protect platforms from litigation should the platform remove the offending material once notified about the infringement. Twitch uses a three-strike policy for its users — if you get three strikes, you’re banned.
In its warning message to users, which circulated on Twitter this afternoon, Twitch wrote: “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. We recognize that by deleting this content, we are not giving you the option to file a counter-notification or seek a retraction from the rights hold. In consideration of this, we have processed these notifications and are issuing you a one-time warning to give you the chance to learn about copyright law and the tools available to manage the content on your channel.”
Twitch streamers who received these notifications have expressed concern for multiple reasons: They’re unsure which pieces of content violated (or continues to violate) the rules and don’t want to be banned, and they’re upset about old content being deleted without their involvement.
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
Given the circulation of the notice, it sounds like a lot of Twitch streamers were dinged in violation. Twitch isn’t allowing its users to submit counterclaims or get a retraction of the claim, opting instead to just delete content. Instead of a strike, however, the company is calling this a “one-time warning.” This made it sound like Twitch would resume normal processes — including strikes against accounts that violate copyright — on Friday. However, a tweet from the Twitch Support account makes this complicated; following the email, 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.” We’ve reached out to Twitch for clarification.
Twitch also told users that they may have remaining infringing content on their channels, and are encouraging people to review all videos and clips for unlicensed material. “If you are unsure about the contents of your archive you can delete all of it,” Twitch wrote. Twitch does have tools for downloading clips individually and mass deleting, but nothing that easily allows users to archive the entirety of their work.
Twitch founder Justin Ignacio, who is no longer with the company, tweeted on Tuesday some third-party tools to speed up the process.
A Twitch spokesperson provided the following statement to Polygon:
We are incredibly proud of the essential service Twitch has become for so many artists and songwriters, especially during this challenging time. It is crucial that we protect the rights of songwriters, artists and other music industry partners. We continue to develop tools and resources to further educate our creators and empower them with more control over their content while partnering with industry-recognized vendors in the copyright space to help us achieve these goals.
On Monday, Twitch’s new Soundtrack by Twitch feature became available for all users. The tool is part of Twitch’s response to its music copyright problem; Soundtrack by Twitch curates music that’s safe to stream worldwide. The company will also host a “live learning session” on Wednesday where it’ll answer questions regarding Twitch’s community guidelines.