On Monday, variety streamer Jeremy “Disguised Toast” Wang was banned from Twitch for watching Death Note, a 2007 Shonen anime licensed by Viz Media. What many hoped was only a short ban, especially after Imane “Pokimane” Anys was suspended for just 48 hours for a similar act, might stretch to an entire month, according to a recent tweet from Disguised Toast.
It seems the ban was because Disguised Toast watched “hours and hours” of anime without adding any of his own commentary. This has been dubbed the “TV Meta” within Twitch, in which streamers big and small watch and react to film and television while live on their channels. Everyone’s doing it, from Pokimane to Félix “xQc” Lengyel, who has reportedly been streaming Viz Media’s Hunter x Hunter without receiving a ban. Not yet, anyway.
We’ve reached out to Disguised Toast for comment and will update if we hear back.
Streamers like Hasan “Hasanabi” Piker, Ludwig “Ludwig” Ahgren, and Thomas “Sodapoppin” Morris have warned about Twitch’s new meta, which is primed for DMCA takedowns in the same way music was just a few years earlier. And yet, people are taking their chances by watching movies and TV live with thousands—if not millions—of their fans on the platform.
The issue makes sense. Streamers don’t own the rights to the content they’re streaming, so rebroadcasting it is, theoretically, against the platform’s rules. In order for something to fall under fair use, you must “transform” the content, and Twitch doesn’t always understand commentary as transformative. This is why video games are a little bit different, because you’re not only giving your own commentary, but no streamer’s experience is the exact same as another’s.
Still, what’s happening is indicative of Twitch’s negligence to enforce standards across the board. Many of the platform’s biggest stars are familiar with copyright laws, so purposely streaming copyrighted content is a setup for a ban. But what this “TV Meta” will do in the long run, if Twitch is bothered enough by it , is create stricter rules that will harm the smaller channels chasing the same follower goals and livestreaming numbers as their idols. Because that’s the real problem here: The “TV Meta” is just another way to gain followers, and if Twitch decides to selectively enforce DMCA strikes, then everyone loses, not just the biggest and most visible on the platform.