DMCA Strikes Again For Music

We’ve seen a lot of change in internet activity during the spread of the coronavirus as those stuck at home look for alternative ways to spend their time, we’ve seen the rise in streaming services as platforms such as Netflix and Disney+ capture a growing market, mobile gaming is on the rapid rise capitalising on recent growth as some gain an increased audience with examples such as a Better Dice review drawing in new players - but one market that has seen growth has also seen recent change that has frustrated many.

This change has been seen on the video game streaming platform Twitch - capturing millions of viewer hours per year as some of the biggest games find a home on this platform alongside a growing number of content creators joining the platform in lockdown has put more eyes on these streamers, and this has had a negative impact - largely through a sudden increase in DMCA strikes against channels for playing music.

The DMCA, or Digital Millennium Copyright Act is a way for content owners to claim misuse of their copyright property, largely seen within the music and movie industry to prevent misuse or piracy, but has recently been used on Twitch for clips that could span in to ages being years old - and it’s not really known why. These claims aren’t issued directly by the platform either, as they come directly from the holders of the masters for the music being played in these older clips - given that any studio which holds the masters for these songs can submit a copyright infringement claim which has to be immediately honoured by the platform, thousands of streamers who have played any music through YouTube or Spotify on their channel could be at risk.

(Image from quora.com)

As for the consequences - whilst perhaps having your channel banned or clips removed may not seem like too big of an inconvenience, for many it is their livelihood and being banned from the platform, even temporarily, could hurt what is essentially their business. The only advice given has been to remove older clips, but as one streamer had mentioned, deleting over 100,000 old clips isn’t an easy task simply because music had been played in that particular clip.

There have been some exceptions - popular streamer Trainwreckstv reached out to rapper 21Savage over twitter during the DMCA apocalypse happening on the platform and was able to get permission to use his music exclusively on his stream - however this is a bit of a unique situation, unlike many artists the rapper owns the rights to all of his own masters and is able to give such permission where others aren’t able to - but it does bring into question something that is happening within the music industry, should copyright claims be able to go out in the way they have over the past week based on streamed content through what is seemingly an automated system? Because of the current situation maybe change will be seen, but as this has been an ongoing issue for the past few years it is interesting to realise it is still a big problem in its current capacity.

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