Twitch has started to follow in Youtube’s footsteps and has started to censor videos that feature copyrighted music. It has begun using a program called Audible Magic which can search through segments of video and mute sections of them that contain copyrighted music. Twitch isn’t taking the video down, they are just muting it, but still this is causing problems for many twitch users.
You see, Twtich’s primary purpose tends to be video game streaming. Unfortunately, this means that nearly all the audio you hear on a Twitch channel is copyrighted. If Twitch decided to run these protocols for every single video on their site, and they decided to search for every piece of music copyrighted by everyone and not just major record labels, nearly every single video on the site would have huge muted sections. Heck, even the popular EVO finals or much watched League of Legends Championships would be completely muted.
Audible Magic is also incredibly aggressive. It censors music even if the copyright owners don’t care! No one has to file a complaint, the process is all automatic. As a result, even Twitch’s own broadcasts are being censored at points. In fact, if a copyright holder is OK with their music being used, they would actually have to appeal to Twitch for every single video. That’s insane! No one has that much time to micromanage people using their content.
Twitch has made it clear that this choice was not due to any particular legal action or pressure by any other company. General counsel Elizabeth Baker explained that it was simply a choice to be more friendly and welcoming to copyright owners. She went into more detail on Twitch’s official blog. "Starting today, Twitch will be implementing technology intended to help broadcasters avoid the storage of videos containing unauthorized third-party audio," she wrote. "We respect the rights of copyright owners, and are voluntarily undertaking this effort to help protect both our broadcasters and copyright owners."
Several members of the streaming community have expressed massive displeasure at this new decision. Many members of the fighting game community, that broadcast tournaments and show tutorials off Twitch, has said that this will make their lives incredibly difficult. Speedrunners have seen many of their videos muted, and some are even considering taking down their channels. If Twitch is not careful, this will end up gutting them from the inside out.
For now the program only sifts through and mutes archived videos and not live streams. However, if it is updated to mute livestreams, we might see some unfortunate, and hilarious instances. The program only mutes videos in half hour spurts so, if Sony uses an Imagine Dragons song during their press conference at E3, half hour of silence for everyone watching at home. This is going to create a huge comedy of errors.
There has to be a better way to handle this situation. Couldn’t Twitch just run Audible Magic after a copyright claim is registered? Honestly, this pre-emptive “get rid of everything copyrighted” idea just flies in the face of actual copyright law. For example, it completely ignores fair use instances, such as parody, or journalism. At this point this isn’t enforcing a copyright, it’s granting copyright holders an iron lock over their IP, and that’s not how copyright law was originally envisioned.
Former Contributing Writer