Twitch Is Headed For a Copyright Disaster

Twitch may be forced to build its own ContentID–or pick a fight with the music industry.

Eric Ravenscraft
OneZero
Published in
6 min readMay 28, 2021

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Thomas Trutschel / Contributor via Getty Images

On Friday, Twitch sent out an email to its users letting them know that the company had received “about 1,000 individual claims from music publishers,” and “they will likely send further notices.” The message was clear: Stop using copyrighted music in your streams, and check your old videos before they get taken down.

This isn’t the first time that Twitch has wrestled with the problem of music on its platform, and it doesn’t look like the issue will resolve any time soon. Eventually, Twitch may only have two options: Either build new tools to help bridge the gap between creators and rights holders, or turn on one of those groups.

Twitch’s most recent email is notable for a number of reasons, and they’re worth going through point by point.

First, there’s the number of claims Twitch says it has received. The email says the company received “about 1,000 individual claims.” This isn’t insignificant, but it’s also not exactly a flood of requests. For comparison, back in 2016, Google said it received nearly two million copyright takedown requests per day for its search results. Search results and video streams are very different, but it’s noteworthy that such a small number led to a mass email.

This move has a familiar echo in the past, though. In 2012, Twitter made the bold move of publicly disclosing the 4,410 DMCA takedown requests it had received in the last year or so. This was not a neutral move. It was made in partnership with a third-party project called Chilling Effects (now Lumen), run, in part, by the Electronic Frontier Foundation. The intent, as the name suggests, was to highlight the “chilling effect” that rampant takedown notices had on free speech and fair use.

By sending this email not only to the people affected by the 1,000 or so claims, but to everyone, Twitch is making a similar statement. The message goes on to highlight that this many requests likely implies that the music publishers are using…

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Eric Ravenscraft
OneZero

Eric Ravenscraft is a freelance writer from Atlanta covering tech, media, and geek culture for Medium, The New York Times, and more.