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Gamers debate copyright claims as labels issue takedowns against Twitch

By | Published on Wednesday 27 June 2018


As the campaigning continues in Brussels over the European Copyright Directive and the increased liabilities it may create for user-upload sites, there has been a flurry of chatter about the record industry issuing takedowns against Twitch. That being the rather popular Amazon-owned video-game-focused streaming platform.

The chatter began after a small number of gamers who stream all their gaming shenanigans on the platform started reporting last week that they were getting copyright alerts from Twitch.

Each alert said that a takedown request had been issued against the gamer’s channel by the International Federation Of The Phonographic Industry because uncleared music appeared in their videos. As a result of the takedown, issued under US law, offending content would be removed from the gamer’s archive and their access to the entire platform was restricted for 24 hours.

One Twitch streamer called Josh Allen then posted on Twitter: “Just clearing up some misinformation: Twitch isn’t banning people for streaming music, they’re responding to a DMCA takedown notice issued by @IFPI_org. Twitch has no choice in the matter; they are legally obligated to do this when issued a DMCA notice”.

Those tweets have resulted in plenty of debate on Reddit since last weekend on the ins and outs, and pros and cons, and rights and wrongs, of the record industry seeking to block uncleared music from appearing on a platform like Twitch, where the music is generally very much in the background.

Quite when and why IFPI decided to start issuing takedowns against Twitch isn’t clear. Of course record companies and their trade bodies now routinely issued a flood of takedowns every day against user-upload sites where music appears without licence.

Although many gamers would argue that background music in their live gaming streams is very much a periphery part of their content, some in the music industry might argue it nevertheless plays its part in the overall experience. And if both Twitch and its partners – ie the gamers who stream – are earning a share of ad income, maybe the music makers should be too.

It remains to be seen if the label-led takedowns against Twitch channels become more frequent and – if so – if Amazon would look for some sort of licensing deal to overcome the issue. Or maybe the gamers on Twitch will just follow the lead of many YouTubers and start playing their games with only music from one-stop-licence library music firm Epidemic Sound in the background. That way they can pay a nominal licence fee upfront and not have to worry about any label-instigated 24 hour lock outs.