Lawyer warns Twitch streamers are at risk of instant copyright claims during streams

He says music corporations can monitor streams and have the ability to issue immediate DMCA claims

Over the last 48 hours or so, Twitch creators have been frantically trying to avoid copyright strikes and threats of permanent channel bans after the streaming platform received an unprecedented wave of DMCA claims. This has led to many having to manually delete thousands of clips and VODs as music rights holders took the opportunity to start issuing claims.

It now appears that the music industry is tightening the collar on Twitch streamers even more, after a lawyer revealed to the company’s head of creator development, Marcus ‘djWHEAT’ Graham, that we’ve only seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to DMCA claims.

Noah Downs, a lawyer at Morrison Rothman LLP,  says that two major music corporations have invested in a company that can monitor “most streams” on Twitch to detect breaches of copyright. Downs claims that Warner Music Group and Universal Music Group are now using the company to scan livestreams and “have the ability to issue live DMCAs” – but they haven’t issued these just yet.

“It’s super important to know that that level of enforcement [live DMCAs] hasn’t even come through yet,” Downs tells djWHEAT. “You’re live and can be taken down live for playing [copyrighted] music. Right now, you’re only seeing it happen to clips and VODs.”

While many concerned and anxious creators have criticised Twitch during this influx of DMCA claims, Downs notes that Twitch “is not the bad guy” and that it is the individual streamer’s responsibility to ensure they have the correct licence to play certain music and material.

“Twitch is not the bad guy here… Twitch is doing what it has to do: continue to be a viable platform for people to stream games and music,” he explains. “The impetus is on broadcasters to make sure they have the rights to stream this stuff. If you’re a broadcaster, and you’re all about making sure you are able to monetise your stream and don’t want people to steal your content, then what do you think those artists feel like?”

While platforms such as YouTube have a lot of previous history with creators being issued – both rightly and wrongly – copyright strikes in the past, it has never really been an issue of this scale before for Twitch creators.

The music industry has now wised up that its material has been used liberally by streamers for a number of years without the proper licence to do so and with the threat of instant, live DMCA claims and permanent channel bans for repeat offenders, an immediate shift from streamers is expected.