In what seems like a déjà vu moment, Twitch streamers of all sizes were once again hit with a wave of DMCA warnings and strikes on their channels this week. It’s very reminiscent of the same DMCA waves that hit Twitch only a couple of months ago. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a copyright law that protects artists from having their content used without permission or clearance. The main use of DMCA is to go after people who circumvent those requirements and hold them accountable. This might sound great as a creator, knowing that your content is safe. However, Twitch streamers are quickly learning that this same protection is also putting their livelihoods at risk when they use uncleared music.
Most creators on Twitch know that using copyrighted music is against Twitch’s terms. Its even in their legalese:
“We ask that creators only share content for which they have the necessary rights. It is a violation of our policies to stream or upload content containing copyrighted music unless you have the appropriate rights or authority to share such music on Twitch.”
The issue is that many creators have just disregarded this point. Up until this year, DMCA claims were very rare on livestreams. You saw it more within video content. Streamers used the justification that large streamers are doing it, so they are fine. Large streamers had the connections to get the claims lifted, so the risk of using popular songs was worth it for the quality of the stream. This thought ran true for a while, until labels began to send waves of DMCA claims out to popular creators on the platform. Creators large and small are vulnerable.
welp finally happened boys, got hit with a dmca strike, back to boring music on stream— Sizz (@Sizz) October 20, 2020
I literally NEVER play music on my stream and got a DMCA strike warning. Doesn’t even tell me what it’s for. I don’t believe it— G1 Gigz (@Gigz) October 20, 2020
What is Twitch doing about DMCA?
Twitch is in an awkward spot because it wants to protect its userbase, but they also needs to protect themselves. Twitch will not take responsibility for allowing DMCA violations on channels because it would be held liable and potentially be put out of business. Therefore, the responsibility rests solely on the creator not to use copyrighted music within their streams. The creator is now vulnerable to these DMCA strikes and Twitch only gives you two strikes on this before your account is permanently terminated.
While the blame does rest at the feet of those using music without proper authorization, creators are still angry with Twitch’s response to the DMCA wave. In an attempt to protect themselves (and to a lesser degree, the creator), Twitch emailed creators this past week informing them the following:
- Twitch is deleting content that has copyrighted material within it on their channel.
- Twitch found other copyrighted material on the channel, but won’t tell the creator what pieces they are.
- If the creator is found to have copyrighted content on their channel after October 23, 2020, they are solely responsible for that content moving forward.
Having the worst of the copyrighted content deleted sounds smart. However, Twitch isn’t providing a chance for the creator to dispute the copyright, so they are losing that piece of content forever with no way to fight for it. As well, Twitch is being vague about the other content that has copyright, so they are essentially forcing creators to delete their entire archive of VODs and clips or risk a strike that could close their account permanently.
It is INSANE that @Twitch informs partners they deleted their content – and that there is more content in violation despite having NO identification system to find out what it is. Their solution to DMCA is for creators to delete their life’s work. This is pure, gross negligence. pic.twitter.com/mhdXU5lEc5— Devin (@DevinNash) October 20, 2020
What Does This Mean For Creators?
To put it bluntly, it is no longer acceptable to use copyrighted material on Twitch, regardless of who is using it. DMCA is not going away. It’s enforcement may change over the next couple of years as creators fight back, but it is a permanent and impending threat if you use copyrighted material. As a creator, especially one that uses Twitch or content creation as a source of income, you must ensure that what you are streaming is completely compliant or you risk getting a channel strike.
Twitch suggests that you delete or disable any VOD or clip that has copyrighted material within it. This will ensure that your channel is purged of any content that you don’t own. However, what this doesn’t take into consideration is that individuals have spent years, even decades on the platform. There are a lot of memories, content, and clips that will forever be gone. While Twitch has some tools available to mass delete VODs, clips, etc., we found a tool that will download your clips and then delete them from your channel so you at least have an archive available. We utilized this tool and were able to fully scrub our channel of the clips and content in case there was copyrighted material.
*Please note that this is a third party application. Webaround, Bobachi, and Webaround Gaming do not take any responsibility for consequences of using this tool*
What Can You Do To Avoid DMCA?
The simplest answer is don’t use copyrighted material. Make sure that what you are using on your channel is cleared and completely compliant with the artist. Music is the root of most of the DMCA strikes. We created a guide on DMCA free music that you can use in your Twitch streams for free. We highly recommend taking a look at those resources as a way to move away from copyrighted music. Since we created that guide, there have been a couple new resources that popped up that we want to go over as well. Hopefully these help you avoid DMCA strikes and continue to stream on Twitch without fear of strikes.
Monstercat Gold is a catalog of thousands of Monstercat artists that are DMCA-free. However, this doesn’t mean it is free to use. You need to pay $5/month to secure access to their catalog. This is a pretty small price to protect your content. With this, you can download and stream thousands of Monstercat songs, add music to Twitch and YouTube livestreams and videos, and get access to new releases of Monstercat Artists. On that note, Monstercat has some big names behind them like Bossfight, Rogue, Darren Styles and more.
If you are a creator on multiple platforms like Twitch and YouTube, this could be a good investment. For $5, you are ensuring that you have quality music and are protected from DMCA.
Another paid service that ensures DMCA free music is Soundstripe. While a bit more expensive, starting at $11/month, Soundstripe provides music and sound effects in their library. What sets Soundstripe above is that you get unlimited music licenses or you can buy specific songs for one set price. That way, if you don’t want to subscribe to their service, you can still snag the license for songs that you enjoy. Like Monstercat Gold, Soundstripe is constantly adding new songs each week. They typically add 200-400 songs a month, so you’ll always have a fresh stream of awesome music to have on your streams.
If free is more of your thing, then look no further than the platform you are already on. Twitch has created a rights-cleared music service called Soundtrack by Twitch. This is a curated collection of rights-cleared music that you can use on Twitch right now. The cool part is that the service integrates with your streaming software and creates a separate audio track right in the software. This is nice for fine tuning your audio along with the game and voice volumes.
Originally, Twitch was requiring individuals to hop into a waitlist to get access to Soundtrack by Twitch, but since the wave of DMCA content, they have pushed the release up. Now any creator can download the service and start using it today. If you are a newer creator or aren’t interested in paying for a service at this time, this is probably your best bet among the other new services that have popped up as of late.
Honorable Mention: Pretzel
Pretzel still is our favorite music provider for DMCA-free music. Pretzel covers creators across Twitch, Facebook, and YouTube to ensure that you have good music for your streams and videos. What sets Pretzel apart is that it boasts a variety of music of all different genres. You aren’t pigeon-holed into dubstep or EDM. Instead you can choose exactly what style you want and know you are safe. Pretzel is very active in adding in new DMCA free music, working with creators like Harris Heller to integrate his StreamBeats service to their platform. While free, you can also pay to get extra features and avoid chat attribution that you are required to do with the free version.
The time of lazy content creation is over. Creators cannot sit by and not protect themselves in this digital age. Especially when it comes to those that use content creation as a job, its critical that the assets you use on your streams and videos are cleared and copyright free. Otherwise, you risk having your entire channel and business shut down permanently. Fortunately, while there is a lot of unknowns and not a lot of clarity from companies like Twitch, creators can use services like Monstercat or Pretzel to still have a quality presentation, while also protecting themselves and their content. We hope that this article helped clarify some of what is going on in the space. If you have other services that you like to use for music, let us know and we might add it to the list.
We will leave you with this: Stay safe out there and do what is necessary to protect yourself and your channel. You are the only one who can do that.
As always, keep on creating and GLHF.
*Webaround, Webaround Gaming, and Bobachi provides the above information for informational purposes. This is not official legal advice and we recommend contacting your lawyer with any law specific questions regarding DMCA.