Twitch’s New Copyright Policy Says 3 DMCA Strikes and You’re Banned

twitch dmca copyright policy update
LONDON, UK - April 30 2020: Twitch game live streaming logo on a smartphone

TLDR

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.

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.”

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Statistics courtesy of twitchtracker.com

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.

Public Reaction

Streamers are highly supportive of this update:

Conclusion

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.