Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
Twitch plans to start automatically scanning clips of live streams for copyrighted music following a wave of takedown requests on years-old videos, which has frustrated streamers over the last week. Twitch says it will automatically delete clips with copyrighted music in them and that it will not penalize streamers — under its current rules, streamers can get strikes for copyright violations that could ultimately lead to a ban.
The culprit here is clips — basically highlights from a larger live stream that have usually been cut out by a fan and saved to the streamer’s page. Twitch already scans the archive of a fully completed stream for copyrighted audio, and it mutes the stream in 30-minute chunks to wipe out anything that might be found. But that scanning technology wasn’t used on clips, too, which meant that streamers may have had years of clips with copyrighted music in them that had gone unnoticed.
First, we will begin the work to extend our use of Audible Magic to identify existing clips that may contain copyrighted music and delete them for you without penalty. Over the coming months, this will cover newly created clips as well.
— Twitch Support (@TwitchSupport) June 11, 2020
The scanning is done in partnership with Audible Magic, a company that works with rights holders like Universal Music Group, Disney, and Warner Music Group, among others, to scan platforms for copyrighted content. Audible Magic has powered Twitch’s archive scanning since 2014, and now Twitch says it’s expanding that partnership to focus on clips. Older clips are being scanned first, and “over the coming months,” it’ll expand to new clips as well.
As part of its response to the wave of takedown requests, Twitch also plans to build a feature allowing streamers to delete all of the clips on their channel. Twitch hasn’t announced a way to appeal automated clip deletions just yet, but it does have a process in place to appeal audio being muted as a result of Audible Magic’s scanning, so it’s likely there will be one eventually.
Streamers might play music during their broadcasts for a number of reasons; DJ sets are popular, or a streamer might play music in the background. There might also be music inside a game being played, which would be a trickier situation for streamers to avoid. YouTubers have dealt with takedowns over copyrighted music for years, often to great frustration.