While 2020 was a struggle for many of us, it was a particular year of struggle for game streaming site Twitch. The brand, owned by Amazon, had famously skirted copyright law when it comes to music played on its platform. While YouTube streamers get shut down instantly and can receive strikes if they accidentally stream from a location with background music, Twitch streamers had long used music in their streams without any fear of repercussions. That came to an abrupt end last year, when stream replay videos were deleted with no notice, followed by an apology for handling it poorly.
This week, Twitch announced a deal with NMPA (National Music Publishers' Association) which will allow the two organizations to produce new ways for streamers to work with music rights owners to produce new content. However, the first thing coming out of the partnership is a new way of reporting violations to the platform. From the email sent to streamers,
As part of this agreement, we want to let you know about a new process that we are creating that participating music rights holders can opt into to report certain uses of their music, which is more flexible and forgiving to creators who inadvertently or incidentally use music in their streams than the existing process required under the DMCA and similar global laws.
The important thing to know here is that, for NMPA members, the process will be different and more direct for music rights owners to report violations. But, unlike the way Twitch handles DMCA notices, NMPA notices will result first in a warning, similar to how DMCA notices work on YouTube. Offending content, upon review and confirmation from humans at Twitch, will be removed from the platform, including VOD and Clips.
Not all violations will be treated equally, though. Certain "flagrant uses" could result in stronger, more direct responses, including restreaming (live or delayed) live music events and concerts, and playing pre-release music. The response to these issues will depend on the history of the Twitch channel, though details are still sparse. It's possible that it will only take DMCA/NMPA violations into account, or it could also take other Twitch community violations into account
Twitch and NMPA have one important note about this agreement: it does NOT mean you can use music in your stream.
This new process does not change how music can be used on Twitch. As we've said consistently, it's never okay to include music in your channel unless you've secured the necessary rights or have the authority to do so -- doing so violates the rights of music creators and runs counter to Twitch's mission of supporting all creators. But we recognize that not all unauthorized uses of music merit the same treatment, and it is our hope that we can, as part of our agreements with music rights holders, take a balanced approach that supports creators on Twitch.
It will be interesting to see if and how this affects the streaming community over the next few months. The relationship has the ability to give streamers the ability to use music, while sharing revenue with the music rights holders, in the future. But, for now, it's just a new DMCA process.