Twitch urges streamers not to use copyrighted music

The service apologized for how it handled a huge influx of DMCA claims.

Twitch has a clear message to streamers: don't play songs that you don't have the rights to use. In a blog post, the service shed some more light on the huge uptick in music-related copyright claims made against channels.

Until May, Twitch streamers received fewer than 50 Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claims in total each year. Since then, reps for major record labels have gone on the offensive. They're filing thousands of claims each week, largely focused on short excerpts of songs in clips (i.e. snippets of streams). Many of those compromised clips are several years old.

Twitch has deleted many of the clips in question from streamers' profiles, and DMCA notifications prompted many users to purge years’ worth of old broadcasts (VODs) and clips. However, some streamers have suggested their archives are still subject to claims if their clips and VODs remain on Twitch's servers.

In its post, Twitch pledged to be more transparent about DMCA issues. The service says it needs to help streamers deal with the tidal wave of claims by providing "more educational programs and content management tools."

Twitch said it could have built better tools for streamers to properly manage their content libraries "a while ago" and apologized for not doing so. The company will offer "more and better options as soon as possible." Until then, streamers either have to manually remove content that might contain unauthorized music or mass delete all of their clips.

It also apologized for only giving streamers three days to change their music habits. "We recognized creators should have a reasonable chance to understand that content created in the past was being targeted as allegedly infringing and be given an opportunity to change their approach to music use before they got hit with strikes," it wrote.

Twitch said streamers should only play songs from the Soundtrack by Twitch tool or other cleared libraries, including Soundstripe, Monstercat Gold, Chillhop, Epidemic Sound and NCS. It also suggested streamers check End User License Agreements in case games with recorded music prohibit streaming in any way. Meanwhile, artists who perform their own music on Twitch are in the clear.

Looking forward, Twitch pledged to expand its use of tech that detects copyrighted audio. It plans to give streamers more control over what audio from their stream remains on their clips and VODs too. The Soundtrack tool, for instance, lets users play recorded music on their streams without it showing up in VODs. Twitch also says it needs to give streamers a clearer way to review which VODs and clips supposedly infringed copyright. That way, it'll be easier for them to file counter DMCA notifications.