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Tips to Approaching the Music Copyright Regulations on Twitch

by Sarah Sutherland 13 Nov 2020

Confused about what’s going down with the DMCA regulations on Twitch? You’re not alone. The complicated rules surrounding the incorporation of audio on Twitch have many streamers scratching their heads. We did a deep dive on the topic to help provide some key resources for people trying to understand the implications.

Wait hold up, what’s going on?

In recent weeks, many streamers on Twitch have received a heavy influx of notifications that they are in violation of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) due to the unauthorized use of copyrighted audio - including music and other audio recordings - in their streams.

What is the DMCA and why does it matter on Twitch?

The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is essentially just a copyright law for the digital age, designed to prevent people from unauthorized replication or reproduction of digital copyrighted material.

It matters on Twitch because many streamers incorporate music or other audio into their streams and content creation. The recording studios who own the music have decided in recent months to crack down on the unauthorized use of audio on Twitch.

Why is this coming to a head now?

Twitch reports that beginning in May, they began receiving thousands of DMCA notifications each week from representatives of the major record labels, when previously they had received fewer than 50 each year.

What can I do if I’m a streamer using Twitch?

In a recent blog post by Twitch, they recommend the following actions:

  1. For any new streams created, make sure you do not include copyrighted audio that you do not own the rights to or do not have permission to use
  2. Review and delete any of your OLD content that may use copyrighted material or audio
  3. In some cases, you may be able to purchase the license retroactively, but the rights holder must be willing to allow you purchase and then must retract the DMCA notification (see Twitch FAQs for more details)

How can I safely use music in the stream?

Twitch outlines the following options:

  • You can use music that you own OR music that you have permission to use from the rights holder(s)
  • You could opt to use Soundtrack by Twitch, Twitch’s library of rights-cleared music
  • Twitch identifies several other rights-cleared music libraries for streamers, including Soundstripe, Monstercat Gold, Chillhop, Epidemic Sound, and NCS
  • You may wish to explore collaborations with musicians or even create your own music yourself, but be sure to check out Twitch’s Music Guidelines to ensure it remains in accordance with music copyright laws

If I believe I’ve been falsely targeted, is there anything I can do?

  • Twitch maintains that if you believe that you are not in violation of DMCA, either because you already own a license or because you believe you’ve been mistakenly targeted, you can file a counter notification with Twitch. Guidance for how to do so is here, under the section titled “Counter-Notification”

What are other resources I can reference?

Disclaimer: the above is a compilation of information from multiple sources including Twitch website, Twitch’s Twitter, and various news outlets including Polygon, IGN, WIRED, and Variety. This post represents our interpretation of the guidelines, and is not in any way legal advice. Please ensure to double check everything with Twitch’s official regulations.
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