It's no big secret that Amazon's recent change in their terms and conditions is creating a raft of problems for new and established content creators alike. With automated systems scraping the archives, all of your clips will now be under scrutiny if they contain any music which is copyrighted. This has been on the cards for some time but I don't think anyone really expected such a swift response (including Twitch) with little to no preparation from Twitch in terms of providing ways to avoid bans on their platform.
This article aims to explain what DMCA strikes are in plain terms, how you can avoid them and what options are now open to you for the future atmosphere of your streams which has been a defining factor for many channels over the past few years. *As a side note we are not legal advisors and we recommend you read up on all of the items discussed in this article to better educate yourself on the full facts.
THE CURRENT ENVIRONMENT
So the DMCA or "Digital Millenium Copyright Act" has been in place since 1998 (believe it or not) and it was originally designed to address some of the challenges with copyright associated with digital media. In a nut shell, the act criminalises the use of copyrighted media and in this case this pertains to the music you're using on your stream.
Luckily for companies like Twitch and YouTube, they are protected by "safe haven" laws, which means they can't get into trouble for you using copyrighted media on their platform as long as they take it down, which is where we are currently at. Twitch are essentially taking responsibility for content on their platform, however they have failed to provide tools to creators who are now being punished in some cases with no chance of retribution.
YouTuber's have had the pleasure of fighting this losing battle for a longer time period, however it looks like the time has finally come where set precedents are meaning more active content monitoring is going to be the norm.
Now a big problem with this is the software they use to achieve this. YouTube uses a technology called "Content ID" to check for videos infringing copyright. Content ID uses video and audio fingerprinting to identify unique patterns within each original content. Every new video upload is checked against the “fingerprint” patterns to detect for copyright infringement.
The issue here is that it isn't 100% accurate, and we're already seeing reports from some Twitch streamers that they are receiving strikes erroneously even when their clips don't include copyrighted content due to a similar digital fingerprint in the audio.
Although the majority of the content being highlighted is from 2019, there have been reports that clips from as early as 2017 are also being targeted which prompted this response from Twitch which sounds almost as if they're as surprised as you are....
If you're not familiar with what you're allowed to use and what you aren't, Twitch has some pretty solid guidelines and we'd recommend you read and digest them ASAP. There will be a few surprises in there such as cover songs, karaoke and even DJ sets which make it onto the no no list.
You can find the guidelines here https://www.twitch.tv/p/legal/community-guidelines/music/
HOW TO AVOID GETTING STRIKES
So how do you avoid getting nasty emails from the over active Content ID bot? Well the line is no longer blurry and you have 2 immediate actions you need to take.
You need to go into all of your old clips and check for copyrighted music and delete them (or delete them all to be safe). There are some third party tools out there to help do this en masse which we recommend you take a look at.
Check out this post by @CommanderRoot for an awesome tool to mass delete clips https://twitter.com/CommanderRoot/status/1269883095446159362?s=20
You should no longer use copyrighted music on your stream under any circumstances. Whether you're a professional streamer or a hobbyist, if you love streaming and your community you're going to have to make this change or risk a ban (or worse if you continue to break the rules).
None of this is good news. If you have time make sure you download and back up your favourite content.
Check out this video from ProBluePlayer on how you can mass download all of your clips!
We know you've made hours of memories streaming so make sure you take the time to archive these away for the future. Future you will appreciate it when you're a famous streamer and you had to go through this change. But don't take too long, every moment wasted is time that can be used by Content ID to track down your offending clips.
WHAT OPTIONS ARE OPEN TO YOU NOW?
All is not lost. Fortunately the world is full of copyright free music and resources that you can access. Some are free but the paid options will always come with a better library and higher quality options.
If you're looking for a list of places where you can find copyright free music, check out this list from the guys at Animaker.com
And this list from the team at Wyzowl
This is something you're going to need to take your time with. Try out the platforms and explore their libraries. We know every one of you has an audio brand to go along with your visual brand (whether you know it or not) so it's important you try and be consistent with your choices. People watch your content for the overall environment and the music can make or break the mood.
The alternative is a slightly more involved one and involves you actively seeking out artists or bands who you'd like to work with. In some cases if they are already signed to a contract, their labels "can" give you written consent to use their music via a Sync license.
For more information on sync rights head to EasySongLicensing.com
But unless you're of significant scale and marketing value, you're likely to draw a blank here as the likelihood is the benefit to you is bigger than it is to them, but that will depend on the scale of your reach and the artist in question.
Alternatively it might be time to chase some rising stars! Working with unsigned artists could be a huge blessing for you and if you form a strong partnership it's likely you'll still be able to use their content if they do hit the big time. But sadly that's always going to come down to the big bad labels who might not share your emotional attachment to your new friends.
Whether you want this to impact you or not, it's here and you need to take notice. Remove your clips to avoid any DMCA strikes, find new ways to charm the ears of your audiences as these changes are here to stay. Spend some time reading up on Twitch's terms and conditions and educate yourself so you can better protect yourself against the vicious fun police.
Good luck and we hope you avoid any serious consequences in the early stages of the process!
Matt (@an00bisgaming) Director, GETREKT Labs