Music-Related Copyright Claims and Twitch. How to avoid copyright on twitch

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Can you use copyrighted music on Twitch?

Music is an important part of the Twitch experience. It can create a mood for a streamer, it can hide the mistakes they make while gaming, and many people use it to promote themselves or their channel.

But what about the legal part? Can you use copyrighted music on Twitch? The answer is more complicated than you might think!

This article covers some of the rules about music on Twitch and helps streamers understand how their use of copyrighted music may affect them.

What Can Happen to my channel if I play Copyrighted Music on Twitch?

Streamers may receive a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) warning if they play commercial beats on Twitch. This is because the owners of that content have the right to remove any video, audio, or live stream that contains their copyrighted material without permission.

When someone receives a DMCA notice against him for playing copyrighted music from Spotify on Twitch – like what happened with Ex CS: GO pro Jaryd “summit1g” Russell – it usually means the original content owner is taking an active lawsuit. By law, they are required to respond within 72 hours or risk violating federal law.

If you receive this type of legal notice, please be aware that Twitch does not allow its streamers to counterclaim or withdraw their claim. Instead, they delete the video and sometimes even delete the channel. Scary, isn’t it?

The company even sent out another notice last Friday, May 28, 2021 to warn streamers that another wave of copyright infringement notices is coming.

It is not yet clear what will happen to games with licensed music such as Just Dance or Guitar Hero. If a game has original music written for it, you’d better stick to it or use copywrite-free playlists. For example, Beat Saber has several Content ID free music packages.

DMCA and Twitch

First, a quick overview of what the DMCA actually is. The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) is a set of US laws that allow content to be created and shared with digital service providers such as Twitch. We comply with the DMCA and similar laws around the world. Partial compliance means that where the copyright owner believes that the streamer has used their content without permission, we have a process that enables them to request the removal of the content.

Upon receipt of a DMCA notification, we process it in accordance with our DMCA Guidelines. This includes removing content, sharing details with the channel owner, and tracking allegations.

DMCA takedown notices may impact your streaming capabilities, as in our efforts to comply with the DMCA and similar global laws, we issue and track copyright notices and block accounts of individuals who repeatedly infringe others’ copyrights.

This policy is important because we respect the rights of all creators, including those who create or record music, as well as the rights of those who own and control copyright. As a company built around a community of people who create content, we take allegations of copyright infringement seriously.

Recent DMCA notifications

How did we get to this point? Until May of this year, streamers had received fewer than 50 music-related DMCA notifications each year on Twitch. However, from May onwards, major record companies began sending thousands of DMCA notifications every week that covered their creators’ archives, mostly for track snippets in old clips. We still get large batches of notifications and don’t expect it to slow down.

This means two things: 1) if you are playing recorded music in your stream, you need to stop doing it and 2) if you haven’t already, you should review your historical VODs and clips that may contain music and delete any archives it may contain.

We were just as surprised by this sudden avalanche of notifications as many of you. We also realized that we needed to provide streamers with more educational software and content management tools to help you cope with this unprecedented number of incoming notifications simultaneously. So, while we continued to remove the content covered by these notifications as required by the DMCA, we understood that the VOD and clips from years ago do not necessarily reflect your current approach to music. As a result, we have also stopped processing the alerts associated with these group alerts to provide you with the tools, information and time you will need to deal with them.

We analyzed the applications we received during this period from the end of May to mid-October. We found that over 99% of the notifications were for songs streamers were playing in the background of their stream.

The purpose of the DMCA is to strike a balance between the interests of the rights holders (in this case, major record companies) and the creators. For this reason, we were forced to delete VODs and clips that were identified in the notifications. This demonstrated our commitment to our obligations under the DMCA while enabling us to find the best way to handle alerts in these circumstances. In these exceptional circumstances, we felt that creators should have a reasonable chance to understand that past content has been attacked as allegedly infringing, and to be able to change their approach to using music before being hit with blows.

This has led to the current situation which is understandably frustrating and worrying for many of you. Given the circumstances, the alert e-mail many of you received did not contain all the information you would normally receive in a DMCA notification (usually when we receive a DMCA notification regarding your channel, we send you an e-mail containing information about the allegedly compromised work, who is the party making the claim, how they can be contacted and possible penalties under our multiple-infringement policy so that you can make an informed decision about whether to file a counter-claim or request a recall). We hear your opinion about how frustratingly little information has been provided, and we should make this warning email a lot more informative and helpful.

Over the past few months, we have done our best to deal with this situation on behalf of both rights-holders and creators. One of the mistakes we made was not building the right tools to allow developers to manage their own VOD and Clip libraries. You are rightly upset that the only option we shared was the Bulk Clip Removal Tool and that we only gave you three days’ notice to use this tool. We may have developed more sophisticated, user-friendly tools some time ago. What we didn’t do is on us. We were also able to give creators more time to deal with their VOD and Clip libraries – that was a miss as well. We are very sorry for these errors and we will do better.

If you’re doing covers or DJ sets, consider getting a sync license that is required to release music in a video format such as Twitch video streams. Otherwise, enjoy free music.

What music can DJs play on Twitch?

DJs can play any music on Twitch taken from “Soundtrack”, a Twitch-made player with Twitch-ready songs only. His music comes from labels that have made certain agreements. Some labels, such as Anjunabeats, have also made Spotify playlists “non-streaming”. Others also offer their catalog for a monthly fee.

For DJs, “Soundtrack” is not very useful. First, the player is not DJ software. Therefore, its sole target could be a browsable directory. However, the tool lacks a search bar or even categorization by artist or label. This makes it impossible to use for any DJ. You can find music from big names like Don Diablo, Anjunabeats, or Dim Mak, but they’re really hard to find. For this reason, I recommend a Twitch ready Spotify playlist instead.

  • Copyright free
  • Ready for Twitch
  • No DMCA
  • Safe on Twitch
  • Stream for free
  • Free

Or any other combination of these keywords with the words “free”, “ready” or “safe”.

Then look for a playlist and read the description. This will tell you if the music has been cleared only for Twitch, Twitch + Youtube etc. You will find playlists selected by users and labels. I prefer the ones from the labels themselves because the information is certain. It would also constitute a solid reference in the event of a dispute.

  • Anjunabeats: Link to a playlist
  • Spinnin ‘Records: Link to the playlist
  • Proximity: Link to the playlist
  • It never happened: playlist link

Below are two links that pointed to the artists and labels that are free to use on Twitch:

Then you have several studios offering a subscription system to freely play your catalog on Twitch and YouTube. For example, you can play the Monstercat catalog for $ 7.5 / month. Another cool alternative is Soundstripe, its catalog groups a few labels that you can browse by genre or even BPM. Its price is $ 12.5 per month.

Remember that any “DMCA free” playlist can only be true to the current date, even if it is from major labels. If their position on copyright changes in the future, what is not at risk today may be tomorrow.

Does twitch do live DMCA strikes?

A DMCA Warning is a notification you get from Twitch when a rights holder complains about the use of their music. DMCA stands for “Digital Millennium Copyright Act,” which is the US copyright law that was created when the Internet began to grow in 1998.

Live DMCA strikes are underway on Twitch. However, the process is not automated like on Youtube or Facebook. Indeed, the Twitch tool “Audible Magic” only mutes music in VODs and clips. It has never been mentioned before. Therefore, to this day live strikes are only manual.

A famous event is what happened to Metallica at Blizzcon in 2021. Their song “For Whom The Bell Tolls” was replaced by elevator music, leading to an awkward but fun event. This change was weirdly only made to Twitch’s gaming channel, not his main channel (it was broadcast on both). This seems to confirm that live DMCA alerts are only manual.

Therefore, little streamers should not be afraid of live DMCA notifications just yet. Indeed, since the action is still manual on life, there’s a good chance the rights holders are demanding streams only from the big names. Remember that there is a good chance that this will change in the future. Therefore, I wouldn’t be surprised if Twitch followed the same path as Facebook or Youtube, stopping streams that infringe copyright.

However, if you are using a streaming platform for content that is not directly related to the use of copyrighted material (such as games) and you want to use music as a background, you may have options to avoid strikes.

How to avoid getting a DMCA takedown notice

no streamer, not even the best creators, is safe from DMCA removal. It is imperative to take appropriate steps to protect the channel and to know your rights as a creator.

First of all, don’t use any content that you don’t know for sure you are allowed to use in the stream. This includes playing copyrighted music or watching live movies with an audience. If you have streamed copyrighted material in the past, you will need to remove your VOD to avoid any warnings. Just because you haven’t received the alert yet doesn’t mean you won’t receive it in the future. You don’t want to end up getting three warnings overnight and losing your channel.

Some top streamers have implemented a workaround that allowed them to play copyrighted music live. They played music while streaming and removed VOD immediately. For the most part, this works, but those using this workaround take enormous risks. There are cases where streamers receive a live DMCA takedown request while uploading their material. Typically, the alerts come from VODs that infringe copyrighted material, but live broadcasts can also result in a warning. For example, the very popular Twitch xQc streamer was live-reported by the DMCA as he watched live for a few hours from the Tokyo Olympics in 2020. This poses a threat to your channel and you should probably avoid it.

If you want to use anything copyrighted, you must access before using the content in the stream. Some artists will give you permission to stream their music or work. Make sure the person you get permission from is the person who licensed the content.

How to find copyright-free music for Twitch

Copyrighted music is one of the top culprits of streamers receiving DMCA takedown requests. Twitch offers its own soundtrack tool that allows you to play music from artists who have a license agreement with Twitch. Everything in the Tool Library is safe to play on Steam. However, soundtracks in this tool are not licensed for recording. This means that you will need to obtain licensing rights to include them in your VODs.

Copyright-free music for streaming on Twitch is available on YouTube, but it’s hard to see what’s up for grabs. Typically, YouTube displays the name of the license owner in the video description. Songs that are not copyrighted usually do not have this in the descriptions. However, just because a work doesn’t identify an owner doesn’t mean it is copyright-free. So, if you plan on using YouTube to stream music, make sure it is indeed free to use.

No. Streaming music on Twitch could potentially lead to the removal of your channel under the DMCA if you do not have the appropriate rights. To avoid this, we recommend that you only use royalty-free works.

What Content Violates the Copyright Rules?

In short, you shouldn’t broadcast music that you don’t own or have a license to use. Even if a code snippet is accidentally played in the background, you may receive a warning. This was the case of Lenz v. Universal when the family video of a child dancing to a Prince song was removed from YouTube.

Under the Twitch Terms of Service, copyrighted content includes song covers, DJ sets, radio shows, karaoke performances and lip sync, and visual music presentation. This means that you cannot show the lyrics of the song or imitate that you are singing your favorite song. Also, if you subscribe to Spotify or another music streaming service, you cannot play it in your streams. These services grant you personal use rights, not broadcasting rights to the public.

Video game performance may not be eligible for these claims as the authors or publishers own the rights to the original music, not the record companies. However, there may be pitfalls like the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare soundtrack, so it’s worth checking the state of the game’s soundtracks in advance.

On the other hand, games may contain music that belongs to someone else. For example, Grand Theft Auto radio stations or music played in trailers and cutscenes. The developers of the game have obtained a license to use it, but cannot transfer this license to streamers.

It is not yet clear what will happen to games with licensed music such as Just Dance or Guitar Hero. If a game has original music written for it, you’d better stick to it or use copywrite-free playlists. For example, Beat Saber has several Content ID free music packages.

Note that you may receive a warning even if you are not a US resident. Twitch is a US company and must comply with the DMCA.

How to Avoid Strikes

A warning against you does not mean your channel is ready. A claim simply means that you have to remove content that is in breach of copyright. You may not have received a DMCA notification yet, but it’s best to take precautions anyway.

Here’s what you should do:

Remove All Content That Could Fall Under DMCA Claims

As claims are made against videos that contain music, you should remove your videos and VODs that contain infringing content.

You can do this on your video collection page: just go to Twitch, click on your account icon in the top right corner, and select Video Producer. Then go to Clips and check the box at the top of the list to select all the clips on the screen. Please note that clips fall into two categories: clips created by me and clips from my channel. The latter are user-created videos, but you have to delete them anyway, as you will receive the warning.

The problem with deleting clips is that you have to scroll down every time to get the page to show more of your videos. It’s okay if you have several hundred, but for those with thousands of clips, it will take a long time

You can watch each one to find the ones with music, but with claims given out automatically, you wouldn’t want to waste any time.

One solution is to use a utility like Tampermonkey, made by CommanderRoot. Here’s what to do:

  1. Install the Tampermonkey browser extension.
  2. Install the clip removal script.
  3. Go to this page and click Delete All Clips.

The process may take a while, so keep the tab open. The script allows some filtering, including the number of views, category IDs, creator name, and creation date. The tool is constantly updated, so keep an eye out for new features.

When it comes to deleting other videos like VODs or shortcuts, the native process is more tedious than with clips as there is no mass deletion option so you’ll have to manually delete each video. If you want to go this way, you can use the Video Manager. Just log in with Twitch and select the videos you want to delete. This tool also allows you to filter videos.

These videos represent thousands of hours of work, so be sure to save them before deleting them from your account. VOD can be downloaded manually from the video producer’s website. Click the three-dot button to the right of the video and select Download. Twitch doesn’t allow batch downloads, but you can use tools like Twitch Leecher. However, it can only download VODs. For clips, try Snipaclip or the solution here.

Use Copyright-Free Music

It’s that simple, don’t break the rules and you won’t get in trouble. While you definitely have your favorite playlists, there are plenty of copyright-free options available, including from streaming services.

Here are just some of them:

Some musicians offer their music to streamers. Just check out the Twitch subreddit to find relevant posts or this large list here. Pre-built copyright-free music playlists are also available. One of the most popular is StreamBeats, created by Harris Heller.

Most of the copyright claims Twitch receives are from music labels. Since the music copyright laws are quite strict, the best thing a streamer can do to avoid future copyright infringement is not to use someone else’s music while broadcasting.

Everything You Can Accomplish With DoNotPay

With DoNotPay, you can get important information about how copyright works on other platforms such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.

You can also learn how to add a copyright notice to your content and how much it would cost to register your copyright with the US Copyright Office .

Our app will show you how to avoid DMCA abuse and use the fair use policy to your advantage, so you can create without fear of penalties for copyright infringement .

This is just a glance at what we can do as our application is capable of so much more.

Open DoNotPay in your web browser and check out some of the tasks we can help you with:

Video game performance may not be eligible for these claims as the authors or publishers own the rights to the original music, not the record companies. However, there may be pitfalls like the Call of Duty: Modern Warfare soundtrack, so it’s worth checking the state of the game’s soundtracks in advance.

What does DMCA mean?

Photo: ELLA DON / Creative Commons

It’s important to know exactly what the term DMCA means and where it comes from. Short for Digital Millennium Copyright Act, it is a piece of US law that helps protect the owners of copyrighted material from unauthorized use.

Companies can use copyrighted material with the permission of the copyright owner, often under a paid license. However, content that uses copyrighted material may be removed if it violates DCMA terms, usually in the absence of a license to use it.

As for Twitch, since the platform does not authorize copyrighted material, any use of it is tracked by Twitch’s internal servers and offensive elements are removed. A typical DMCA warning, in Twitch terminology, occurs when a stream uses copyrighted music from a famous artist and the original broadcast has been altered to remove offensive material. This could also impact ad revenue from Streams, though it’s unclear how much exactly.

For more serious offenses such as broadcasting a Hollywood copyrighted movie or a live event with an official broadcaster, e.g sports events, the channel can be removed completely.

As the company operates in the United States, the entire platform is governed by U.S law and your consent to these policies and regulations is part of the platform’s terms of service. In conclusion, anyone who streams on Twitch must comply with the laws on copyrighted material, no matter where you’re transmitting from.

How to avoid DMCA strikes

While the rules for what can and cannot be viewed in the stream are constantly changing, there are a few things you can do to make sure you never see a DMCA warning on your content.

Copyright-free music

Photo via Harris Heller

Music is the most common form of strike on Twitch. If you play a copyright-protected song, it is likely that that VOD section of the stream will be muted when you double-check your footage. Minor infractions usually won’t have much long-term effect, but if you constantly see all your streams muted due to copyrighted music playing, you may be putting your account at risk.

This means that those who typically use the platform for live performances, such as DJs and live performances, are at risk if something copyrighted is being played or performed. Live musicians, even with their own accompaniment, typically need a license to play covers of copyrighted songs, which can impact streaming on Twitch. However, playing music that is not copyrighted or original music is not a problem.

It is at all times unclear how the changing DMCA rules will affect those who will use the streaming platform for this type of content in the future, creators of this type of content must be vigilant to stop the risk of their account being banned.

However, if you are using a streaming platform for content that is not directly related to the use of copyrighted material (such as games) and you want to use music as a background, you may have options to avoid strikes.

Music producer Harris Heller’s Stream Beats is one of the most popular and simple music sets that you can use without worrying about DMCA strikes. All music is available on all major streaming platforms. The kits cover many genres including EDM, synthwave and hip-hop.

While Stream Beats is the most popular option, there are also other services that may help you but contain caveats. Pretzel Rocks is a great alternative, but requires a software download to use, and Monstercat, which has tons of good quality, varied music but is a premium service if reasonably priced.

Overclock Remix is ​​also a great option, offering remixed video game music that is safe under the DMCA because it differs enough from the originals to be classified as fair use. However, you need to make sure you assign any use of the available music. Frequently asked questions on this topic can help you figure out what you can and can’t do with the music on the site.

It’s also recommended that you mute your video game music if it contains copyrighted tracks, as the Twitch bots that analyze it aren’t sophisticated enough to distinguish an in-game game from regular streaming, and they might hit you for it.

Imagery and videos

This is a more legal gray area when it comes to displaying your images and videos depending on where you are sourcing them from. Typically, purchasing a movie or series or subscribing to a subscription service such as Netflix gives you a license to watch privately. Any public use is unlawful unless expressly permitted.

This does not apply to features of Amazon Prime Streaming events that can be streamed on Twitch. That said, it requires viewers to have an active Amazon Prime subscription to participate in the broadcast.

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