Twitch pledges to build better tools to combat copyrighted content

The platform has apologised for the first time about its handling of the DMCA fiasco

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Twitch has, for the first time, publicly apologised for its handling of the recent spike in DMCA copyright strikes, which have led to streamers deleting entire back catalogues of clips and VODs and a swathe of channel bans and suspensions.

In addition to its apology, Twitch says it was “surprised” by the sudden surge in DMCA claims. The platform claims that before May 2020, it would have to deal with around 50 copyright infringement claims a year across the entire site, compared to the “thousands” it was now receiving from music industry bodies and record labels each week. Twitch also says that 99% of the claims stemmed from streamers playing unlicensed music in the background of their streams.

Despite this, Twitch holds its hands up and admits it could’ve done more to give streamers proper advice and develop useful tools to stop copyrighted material ending up on livestreams.

“You’re rightly upset that the only option we provided was a mass deletion tool for Clips, and that we only gave you three-days notice to use this tool,” Twitch says in a blog post. “We could have developed more sophisticated, user-friendly tools awhile ago. That we didn’t is on us. And we could have provided creators with a longer time period to address their VOD and Clip libraries – that was a miss as well. We’re truly sorry for these mistakes, and we’ll do better.”

The blog post goes on to promote an extremely vague action plan in regards to building better tools for content creators. While Twitch identifies problem areas, such as unintuitive deletion tools and poor copyrighted material detection systems, it doesn’t give any explicit examples of the new tools it is developing.

Twitch does claim that it is “actively speaking with the major record labels about potential approaches to additional licenses that would be appropriate” for streamers. However, the tone of this section is not very optimistic, citing that the way labels monetise music licenses might not work for a platform like Twitch.

Despite one of its own employees being struck with a DMCA strike this week for a song that was played in Destiny 2, Twitch was also keen to point out that in-game music contributes to only “a handful” of its DMCA notifications.

While streamers will be pleased to see Twitch finally making a proper response to the DMCA issue – and finally issuing an apology – it is clear from the ambiguity of parts of the blog that Twitch has a big battle on its hands to appease the music industry.