Why the DMCA’s Decision Affects Everyone on Social Media

As a small Twitch streamer, my timelines across Reddit , Twitter, Instagram, Discord and Facebook have been a constant stream of emotional, desperate and hurting pleas in the past three days. Whether it be friends within my streaming bubble, or large-scale influencers that I’ve long since looked up to, there is one clear thread throughout everything: something BIG has affected everyone.

Hundreds, if not thousands, Twitch streamers and channels have been hit with a wave of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) claims against their content. The DMCA is a federal law in the US, and Twitch had no choice but to abide by it. Whilst such waves happened in previous years, and on other platforms, it hasn’t quite hit Twitch in this way before. Essentially, anyone that has used copyrighted music, sounds, or snippets in their streams, clips or VODs (Video on Demand), are being targeted by the DMCA. They must remove all copyrighted material immediately, or face fines or charges.

This is proving to be a challenge to overcome for streamers that have years-old clips and content. A clip on Twitch can be anything from a short 30 seconds of someone subscribing to a channel and the music in the background is the song High Hopes, or even background music to your stream – music that you weren’t even listening to (I knew my Mum bopping along to Katy Perry’s Firework was a bad idea!).

So, why does it matter? Well, for a start, if a streamer has a number of slaps on the wrist, they’ll be issued with a Permanent Ban (permaban) on Twitch. This is not good. Whether you’ve been a Twitch streamer, professional gamer or casual content creator, for a day, a year or even 5+ years that veterans like @Cloakzy, it’ll be a long slog to get their channels back on the straight and narrow.

Twitch themselves are even a little stunned by the news, and are working hard to point Streamers in the right direction. For now, though, the only option is to delete all your old clips and VODs…just in case. Better to be safe than sorry. Having said this, I can only imagine the emotional turmoil that is causing so many communities. Having to delete well-loved clips that their communities have able to connect with. It’s tough going. On a business front, those same clips, with thousands of views, are potentially the reason why sponsors reached out to streamers. The erasing of clips impacts far beyond a quick clip of content, and we may not have seen just how far-reaching that impact is yet.

How can this serve as a warning going forward? Well, much like the culture on YouTube, you need to make sure you either have a licence to use whatever music you want, or stick to copyright free. The Twitch subreddit has been alive and kicking, creating threads of copyright free music for streamers to use. Here is a few of our favourites: https://bit.ly/3faGxHX

Personally, I stick to this rule of thumb on stream anyway, and will only play music from YouTube Audio Library. This is partly because as a vlogger, I’ve had to use similar rules, but also due to the fact I actually really enjoy the music!

In terms of other platforms such as TikTok, Mixer, Omlet Arcade– where will DMCA strike next? In truth, we don’t know – no one does – but with copyright being tightened, it is fair to say that new Socials and streaming services that pop up in the future need to be aware that using someone else’s music can potentially be a real threat to money made on the platforms.

Overall, the best way to avoid being targeted is to simply avoid using copyrighted music/sounds in whatever content you produce.

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