Last year, a music industry crackdown on streaming site Twitch resulted in copyright strikes and a mass deletion of videos, as the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) sought to cut down on streamers’ playing licensed music. Twitch has now made a deal with the NMPA, but for streamers it’s not exactly a game-changer.
As The Washington Post reports, earlier today an email went out to streamers explaining the terms of the deal, and what it would mean to them and their use of music. It’s not much of an improvement (emphasis mine):
We’re excited to announce that we’ve entered into an agreement with the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) to build productive partnerships between Twitch and music publishers. 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.
At a high level, this new process, which is distinct from the DMCA, focuses on going forward flagrant uses of music and starts with a warning instead of penalties. Now, when a participating rights holder reports the use of unauthorized music on a creator’s channel, the following will occur
• Similar to DMCA, we have a team that will review reports and check for completeness
• Unlike DMCA, Twitch will give creators a chance to course- correct by first issuing a warning:
- Twitch will remove any VODs and Clips that contain unauthorized music from the creator’s channel.
- If a live stream involves one of several specified flagrant music uses (examples include rebroadcasting music concerts and broadcasting pre-release tracks), Twitch may also issue a warning or penalty depending on the creator’s history of that kind of music use. We will have more information to share here in the coming weeks.
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.
This new deal looks a lot like the old deal, only now in most cases (the “specific flagrant music uses” excepted) streamers will be given a warning before their stuff is wiped and a notice issued. So the actual permissions and systems underpinning Twitch’s response will largely be the same, as its only tools in this fight are deleting content and punishing users. The rules governing a streamer’s use of music haven’t changed either, because the industry still won’t allow the unlicensed broadcast of content.
It’s hard seeing this as any kind of win for streamers, since the only change on their end is a warning before the same drastic steps are taken, but the music industry is obviously happy enough. Which, fine, this was never really about streamers in the first place anyway. Twitch’s crackdown on licensed music was done to protect Amazon’s service as a platform, and so this deal was never going to be about making things easier for users to play licensed music, since it was primarily made to cover Twitch’s own ass.