Twitch, the popular live streaming platform owned by Amazon, has surprised many of its most popular streamers recently. A lot of Twitch Partners, users who make money from their streams, received DMCA takedown notifications early last week. The DMCA takedown notification alerts the user that Twitch deleted some of their content that violated DMCA and warns them that there still may be more DMCA violations on their channel. DMCA, the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, was introduced in 1998. DMCA has governed online copyright since then and has a “safe harbor” provision in it. This safe harbor allows hosts websites, such as Twitch and Youtube, to be immune from lawsuits for hosting infringing materials if those websites respond quickly to notifications that a user has violated copyright law. This safe harbor is a huge incentive for Twitch to alert its streamers about DMCA violations, remove the content as soon as possible, and allows Twitch to stay out of the courtroom.
While these DMCA emails allow Twitch to avoid lawsuits, some of its most popular streamers are not happy about the recent bombardment of DMCA emails. Devin Nash, a streamer on Twitch, shared this tweet containing part of the email he received. The email from Twitch states, “We are writing to inform you that your channel was subject to one or more of these DMCA takedown notifications, and that the content identified has been deleted”. Nash is particularly upset that, “Twitch informs partners [that] they deleted [users] content – and that there is more content in violation despite having NO identification system to find out what it is.” Twitch normally gives its users a three-strike, and then you’re banned approach when it comes to DMCA complaints. However, Twitch seemed to move to a one-time warning, according to this Tweet from e-sports consultant Rod “Slasher” Breslau. This one-time warning is leaving some partners between a rock and a hard place regarding their content.
Twitch isn’t helping its partners out with this dilemma, either. Twitch isn’t able to, or refuses, to identify what content may be in violation of DMCA. Instead, it seems like Twitch is under the impression that streamers should delete any and all content in their archive. In the email Nash received, Twitch said, “[t]o avoid receiving a DMCA takedown notification for the recorded content that remains on your channel, we recommend you take the following actions: 1. Review your Clips, VODS, and any other Content in your Creator Dashboard and delete anything that includes unlicensed copyrighted material. If you are unsure about the contents of your archive you can delete all of it.” For some of the most popular streamers, this means reviewing thousands of hours of content for possible DMCA violations or simply deleting all of it.
The sudden deletion and bombardment of notifications seems to come from a surge in DMCA takedown requests that Twitch said it received earlier this year. The surge in DMCA takedown requests came from RIAA. RIAA, the Recording Industry Association of America, sent more than 1,800 copyright infringement notices to Twitch in June alone, according to an August CNN report. Because of the nearly 2,000 notices Twitch received, it had to act quickly to keep within the safe harbor under the DMCA. As a result, Twitch was forced to deleted a lot of content that violated copyright law and alert users to review their content for DMCA violations. Between the recent DMCA controversy and the US Military’s First Amendment issue, Twitch will remain in the limelight for years to come as the law attempts to keep up with technology and new forms of entertainment.