Popular Twitch Streamers Temporarily Banned For Playing Copyrighted Music

Today, more than 10 popular Twitch streamers tried to kick off their streams, only to find a nasty surprise waiting for them: They'd been kicked off Twitch for 24 hours. The reason? They played copyrighted music during their streams.

Image: Twitch

Streamers xQc, Sinatraa, Daequan, Alfie, Avxry, KittyPlays, Pokelawls, Sneaky, Castro1021, Nico, Symfuhny and Solluminati have all reported 24-hour suspensions for the same reason: Digital Millennium Copyright Act violations, or as they're more commonly known on Twitch, DMCA strikes.

The strikes allegedly came from the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry - according to emails multiple streamers claim are from Twitch - and may have been tied to a song by rapper Juice Wrld.

"This organisation has asserted that it owns this content and that you streamed that content on Twitch without permission to do so," reads one of the emails, as posted by KittyPlays. "As a result we have cleared the offending archives, highlights, and episodes from your account and given you a 24 hour restriction from broadcasting."

If you've watched any Twitch streams at all in your life ever, this might come as a surprise to you. After all, pretty much everybody on Twitch uses music. Sometimes it's royalty-free, but it isn't uncommon to hear familiar hits during big streamers' shows.

Some streamers have playlists going in the background for the entirety of multi-hour streams. Others - Kotaku US' own channel included - put on some chill music before a stream is about to start, to let viewers know it's time to tune in.

To account for this, sometimes Twitch auto-mutes audio in portions of stream archives. Otherwise, people don't usually get in trouble for it.

That doesn't mean they can't get in trouble for it, though. Twitch's rules state that any content owned by somebody else is fair game for DMCA takedown if the owner decides to claim it.

This applies to songs, as well as video clips and things of that nature - and even games such as Persona 5, though publisher Atlus ultimately walked back its restrictions in that case.

Twitch keeps getting bigger and bigger, so it seems only natural that, at some point, big record labels and music companies would start cracking down. That in mind, people have already started providing guides that point streamers in the direction of music that isn't subject to such strict restrictions.

But this particular DMCA storm might have actually been an accident, despite initial appearances to the contrary.

Two of the temporarily banned streamers, Avxry and Daequan, were set to compete in this week's Friday Fortnite tournament, which is run by YouTube shit-stirrer by whom all other shit-stirrers are judged, Keemstar.

Keemstar claims to have spoken with Juice Wrld's record label, Interscope, who apparently said that its "automatic system hit big streamers by accident". Kotaku reached out to Interscope and Twitch for comment, but as of writing, neither had replied.

Shortly after Keemstar said that (and also yelled a bunch on Twitter), however, Daequan and Avxry were un-banned, lending credence to Keem's claims. He says he also mailed Interscope about retracting DMCAs issued to other streamers. So far, Alfie, xQc, Sinatraa and Nico have also been unbanned.


Comments

    I should be upset by this but the fact xQc is on the list just made me smile. It couldnt have happened to a nicer chap. Grin.

    "automatic system hit big streamers by accident"Curious that they specifically say "big" streamers. Were they hoping it would just hit small-time streamers no one would notice were gone?

    It would be interesting to see how it would work out in court. If the audio was uploaded as a feed/overlay to the stream, I would agree they had a case. But if they were playing it in the background for their own enjoyment whilst they streamed a feed, would the DCMA apply? That's dangerous ground, as it then goes on to question whether that applies to any situation, be it news footage, concert recordings, etc. Does owning the copyright to the primary work automatically give you the right to use the environmental art/works that are not specifically added as part of the primary work, or do the authors of those works have their own claim of copyright to your work under the DCMA?

    I would love to see this play out in court.

      Basically any public performance of music needs to be covered by a licence. In Australia that licence is by both APRA (songwriters - for the actual song itself) and PPCA (the specific performance of that song, some performances may not need this licence). Even background music needs to be licenced.

        Except Twitch for the most part is a performance from a private residence, where different expectations of background noise should exist to in a tv studio or at a concert. If those expectations are overruled in the DCMA in those environments, then what expectations of background environment can be overruled by DCMA in a more public setting? As I said, I would love to see this play out in court.

          Makes zero difference where it is broadcast from. If the performance is public it is public.

          As a musician who gets paid by APRA I find it disgusting how people are so happy about stealing other people’s product for their own gain.

          If the music in the background isn’t important, turn it off. Simple.

          If it is important, make your own or pay the artist who created it. Simple.

            Drawing a long bow there saying they are "happy to be stealing", when the examples given suggest nothing so complacent.
            Hiding behind shit-shows like APRA and PPCA who do nothing to try and help move forward with technology and overcome these sorts of issues is pretty lame, they're the ones that you should be disgusted at for not doing their job.
            What would be ideal is if all music organisations. publishers and companies actually were proactive and engaged with tech companies to provide easy ways of licensing music played through services like Twitch.

            You say "pay the artist" but it's actually not currently possible to do this, as APRA offers no mechanism to take royalties for internet streams.

            It's infuriating.

            While I'd agree with you if the music was effectively being broadcast as music I don't feel like this is the case here. If it's background noise during a twitch stream where you have the streamer talking and/or game sounds as well then it's not like a person is going to pirate that music *for the music*.

            Honestly, if a muso tried to get streams pulled like this I'd boycott their music. They should be looking at it as advertising. If you've got a popular streamer being watched by thousands (millions) of people that's a lot of ears hearing your song and potentially saying "I like that I'll go and buy it".

            Again, just to be clear, I'm not talking the situation where someone is streaming just the song. I have no problems with that being taken down. It's streams where it's part of the background.

        I really wish APRA/PPCA would offer a reasonable fee structure for online streaming like they do for small radio stations and public events. I'd love to have licensed music on my stream and pay a small fee to cover royalties, but it's not possible right now and that massively sucks.

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