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Popular Twitch Streamers Temporarily Banned For Playing Copyrighted Music

Illustration for article titled Popular Twitch Streamers Temporarily Banned For Playing Copyrighted Music
Image: Twitch

Today, more than 10 popular Twitch streamers tried to kick off their streams, only to find a nasty surprise waiting for them: they’d been kicked off Twitch for 24 hours. The reason? They played copyrighted music during their streams.

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Streamers xQc, Sinatraa, Daequan, Alfie, Avxry, KittyPlays, Pokelawls, Sneaky, Castro1021, Nico, Symfuhny, and Solluminati have all reported 24-hour suspensions for the same reason: Digital Millennium Copyright Act violations, or as they’re more commonly known on Twitch, DMCA strikes. The strikes allegedly came from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry—according to emails multiple streamers claim are from Twitch—and may have been tied to a song by rapper Juice Wrld.

“This organization has asserted that it owns this content and that you streamed that content on Twitch without permission to do so,” reads one of the emails, as posted by KittyPlays. “As a result we have cleared the offending archives, highlights, and episodes from your account and given you a 24 hour restriction from broadcasting.”

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If you’ve watched any Twitch streams at all in your life ever, this might come as a surprise to you. After all, pretty much everybody on Twitch uses music. Sometimes it’s royalty-free, but it’s not uncommon to hear familiar hits during big streamers’ shows. Some streamers have playlists going in the background for the entirety of multi-hour streams. Others—Kotaku’s own channel included—put on some chill music before a stream is about to start, to let viewers know it’s time to tune in. To account for this, sometimes Twitch auto-mutes audio in portions of stream archives. Otherwise, people don’t usually get in trouble for it.

That doesn’t mean they can’t get in trouble for it, though. Twitch’s rules state that any content owned by somebody else is fair game for DMCA takedown if the owner decides to claim it. This applies to songs, as well as video clips and things of that nature—and even games like Persona 5, though publisher Atlus ultimately walked back its restrictions in that case.

Twitch keeps getting bigger and bigger, so it seems only natural that, at some point, big record labels and music companies would start cracking down. That in mind, people have already started providing guides that point streamers in the direction of music that’s not subject to such strict restrictions.

But this particular DMCA storm might have actually been an accident, despite initial appearances to the contrary. Two of the temporarily banned streamers, Avxry and Daequan, were set to compete in this week’s Friday Fortnite tournament, which is run by YouTube shit-stirrer by whom all other shit-stirrers are judged, Keemstar. Keemstar claims to have spoken with Juice Wrld’s record label, Interscope, who apparently said that its “automatic system hit big streamers by accident.” Kotaku reached out to Interscope and Twitch for comment, but as of publishing, neither had replied.

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Shortly after Keemstar said that (and also yelled a bunch on Twitter), however, Daequan and Avxry were un-banned, lending credence to Keem’s claims. He says he also mailed Interscope about retracting DMCAs issued to other streamers. So far, Alfie, xQc, Sinatraa, and Nico have also been unbanned.

Kotaku senior reporter. Beats: Twitch, streaming, PC gaming. Writing a book about streamers tentatively titled "STREAMERS" to be published by Atria/Simon & Schuster in the future.

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DISCUSSION

whee234whoo
WhoDatNinja

I mean, really, it is fairly illegal to use others music for your own purpose and exhibition if you’re not properly licensing it. I know a lot of streamers use youtube links but even that isn’t fair game since you’re taking content out of its environment and putting it into yours so those people listen but avoid ads and such.

I’m very liberal with consumer rights, especially about updating fair use laws, but if you’re making money, like all popular streamers do, you can’t steal music for your stream. (and even if you’re not making money you can’t, but at least you’re not profiting while infringing) It really is that simple. Everyone else has to license music if they use it. You do too...

A simple way to avoid this would simply show the youtube link of the music you’re listening too, but it doesn’t get streamed. The watcher has to click it and then you could make a live link so it follows the timing with the streamer but you’re still visiting the site like normal. Of course, Twitch should update their systems to make that happen easy without a streamer going out of their way.