Twitch apologizes for DMCA issues, suggests how creators can deal with it

Twitch has been awash in music license issues, forcing streamers to pull VODs or risk legal action. Many are not thrilled with Twitch's response.


As Twitch moved into a new system in which unlicensed music playing on streams would become fair grounds for DMCA takedowns from copyright holders, it unleashed a flood of issues on creators who suddenly found their inboxes full of legal emails and much of their affected content deleted. Suffice to say, it’s been disastrous for many content creators and influencers for a few weeks now. In the wake of the issue, Twitch apologized for not better preparing its community for the change, but it won’t be able to fix much of the damage done.

Twitch officially addressed the matter of DMCA and copyright issues in its new system on November 11, 2020. Back in late October, users started noticing a wave of DMCA takedown notifications following the launch of Twitch’s new Soundtrack system. In an effort to better comply with US copyright law, Twitch opened the gates to allow copyright holders to file DMCA complaints on streams that used unlicensed music. This allowed record labels and other IP holders to file DMCA takedowns. Even Twitch admits that what was once 50 music-related DMCA complaints a year became thousands a week following the launch of its new system.

It would seem that Soundtrack by Twitch and other licensed music libraries are the best way to get around copyright issues in streaming right now.
It would seem that Soundtrack by Twitch and other licensed music libraries are the best way to get around copyright issues in streaming right now.

Suddenly, a wealth of content creators found their videos-on-demand (VODs) and clips being deleted en masse as emails were sent out regarding copyright violations. What’s worse, Twitch’s emails didn’t say nearly enough about what had been done wrong or what should be done following, resulting in a lot of content creators losing a lot of their previous work in the sweep.

Twitch apologized, but admitted that little could be done about what had occurred. Essentially, the company put the impetus on creators to be informed and cautious going forward.

“Don’t play recorded music in your stream unless you own all rights in the music, or you have the permission of the necessary rights holder(s),” Twitch wrote. “Doing this is the best protection for your streams going forward. If you’re unsure whether you own all the rights, it’s pretty likely you don’t. If you want to include recorded music in your stream, use a fully licensed alternative like Soundtrack by Twitch, or other rights cleared music libraries such as Soundstripe, Monstercat Gold, Chillhop, Epidemic Sound, and NCS.”

Twitch further suggested that for VODs and clips, users would just have to go through their own libraries and either delete affected content one by one, or be safe with a “delete all” approach. Even so, some users have still reported getting hit with DMCAs even on deleted content. This is likely due to content remaining on Twitch's servers for a brief time after deletion to essentially keep (but not display) server copies of content for a reasonable time following deletion, according to its TOS.

While Twitch promised to be more transparent going forward on the matter, the damage is very much done. Many users have lost content and it would appear that Twitch’s solution to that is an apology with little else beyond putting it on users to be more careful. The situation being what it is, many Twitch-based creators will have little choice in the matter. It is worth noting if you're a content creator, Twitch has a submission system for getting your content on Soundtrack. Stay tuned for more updates on the situation as information becomes available.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

From The Chatty
  • reply
    November 11, 2020 10:12 AM

    TJ Denzer posted a new article, Twitch apologizes for DMCA issues, suggests how creators can deal with it

    • reply
      November 11, 2020 10:25 AM


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      November 11, 2020 11:06 AM

      At least they've said... Anything about it unlike youtube lol

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      November 11, 2020 11:18 AM

      This was Twitch' response:

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      November 11, 2020 11:52 AM

      We seriously need a mechanical license structure for streaming/VOD services as this shit is getting ridiculous.

      As well as a system that recognizes fair use - something where 10 seconds of a song isn't going to get flagged.

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        November 11, 2020 12:02 PM

        The copyright violations on Twitch were pretty out of control and virtually none of it qualifies for fair use. This reckoning was inevitable.

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          November 11, 2020 12:17 PM

          I am sure a good portion were. You can't have straight up concerts of others' music there, I agree, but numerous dings that I read were also completely incidental use that any legal test would put under fair use due to brevity of the clip. As well as questionable music copyright rights.

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            November 11, 2020 12:41 PM

            That the clip is short doesn't qualify it as fair use. It also needs to be a prescribed purpose like commentary or parody. That's where most streamer claims fall apart.

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              November 11, 2020 12:43 PM

              Playing a game while talking about it reads like commentary to me.

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                November 11, 2020 12:51 PM

                Sure, but that doesn't cover the pop music clip being used to announce a new follower or the music streaming.

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                  November 11, 2020 12:54 PM

                  That's a notification, not a clip.

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                  November 11, 2020 12:55 PM

                  The music tho is definitely an issue

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              November 11, 2020 12:57 PM

              Not necessarily. Fair use is a four part defense, based on
              1) Purpose of use
              2) Nature of the work being used
              3) Amount of the material used
              4) Impact on the commercial market for the work being use

              The judgement is based collectively on evaluating all four points, not necessarily passing each point individually. You do yourself a favor obviously by having the use as being for commentary, parody, or educational use for #1, but that doesn't mean I can upload an entire copyrighted film to YouTube, speaking to a few places through it, and consider that fair use since that's breaking #3 and #4

              Now I would agree that "using copyright music as background music in a stream" fails #1 outright, and being creative would trip #2 and #3. But most streams are using it as bg music, would be impossible to rip and copy, and the only license they arguably could be violating is the public performance issue. (#4). Which is why again, we should have mechanics rights licenses extended to streaming services, by which streams can pay a portion of their stream profits to cover that and not worry.

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      November 11, 2020 12:34 PM

      music companies need to figure out how to evolve the game. its their work they have every right to dmca, but I would imagine a lot of music gets discovered on streams just like when game developers have their games get discovered.

      dont music companies literally pay radio stations to play music these days?

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