Twitch, the world’s leading live streaming platform predominantly used by gamers, updated its copyright policy on July 19, 2021. The updated DMCA policy implements bans for streamers that receive three DMCA infringement claims, typically for the music played in the background of streams. Prior to this, streamers could be banned immediately if they had one DMCA strike, with no warning.
Twitch & Past Copyright Faux Pas
This past year, a spotlight has been cast on Twitch and its copyright enforcement methods. The attention was likely exacerbated by the pandemic lockdown, where an average of 93 billion minutes were watched per month, up a massive 69% from 2019.
In June 2020, there was an unexpected influx of DMCA notices sent to streamers for video clips made in 2017-2019 for infringing content. Twitch responded five months later with a lengthy, empathetic “we hear you” letter that attempted to explain the intricacies of copyright law but also told streamers “hey, you can’t steal music.”
Then, in October 2020, the music industry wrote Twitch a letter alleging that Twitch failed to respond to thousands of DMCA takedown requests and their new Soundtrack tool lacked adequate royalties for artists. Then, in February 2021 during a live performance by Metallica at BlizzCon, video game developer Blizzard’s annual gaming convention, Twitch replaced the audio stream with… “generic 8-bit folk music.”
New DMCA Policy
The new “Repeat Infringer Policy” states:
We will terminate an account holder’s access to the Twitch service if that user is determined by Twitch to be a “repeat infringer” of copyrighted works on the service – under our policy, a user will be considered a repeat infringer if they accrue three copyright strikes.https://www.twitch.tv/p/en/legal/dmca-guidelines/
According to Twitch, a “strike” is when a user receives a DMCA takedown notice and does not file a counter-notification. For the average streamer not familiar with the DMCA process or legal jargon, this alone might lead to frustration. (Streamers: here is how you file a counter-notification.) Additionally, the policy states that Twitch has the discretion to terminate (aka ban) an account of any users “who blatantly and egregiously infringe the intellectual property rights of others, whether or not repeat infringement has occurred.” Strikes are “not permanent,” but remain associated with your account for an undisclosed amount of time.
Streamers are highly supportive of this update:
PSA: twitch has rewritten their DMCA rules and one thing to note now is that copyright strikes now expire! They don’t say at what point they expire but this a new change nonetheless!— koffie ☁️💞 vtuber ♡ コッフｲ (@koffie_ch) July 20, 2021
Twitch has ENTIRELY re-written their DMCA Guidelines Page.— Zach Bussey (@zachbussey) July 20, 2021
Two BIG notes:
1. 3 stikes officially constitute a ‘repeat infringer’
2. Strikes are not permanent (!!!) but kept on the account until they determine you’re not a repeat infringer.https://t.co/5kaEAdTKhj#TwitchNews pic.twitter.com/0s8ftSUN3o
Woah!!— IngameAsylum (@IngameAsylum) July 20, 2021
TWITCH COPYRIGHT STRIKES ARE NO LONGER PERMANENT!
Some big changes were JUST made on Twitch’s TOS regarding copyright strikes.
Although, it’s unclear at the moment how long it will take for a strike to expire off one’s account if deemed not a repeat infringer 🤔🤔🤔 pic.twitter.com/ztR8fhfuMu
It’s no easy feat to balance the demands of copyright law with an online platform that was unimaginable when these laws were written. But, it looks like Twitch is taking a step in the right direction.