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The real reason Twitch streamers are scrambling

Whether Twitch streamers are playing games or just chit chatting with their viewers, there's usually one background constant. We're talking, of course, about music. Streamers love playing their favorite tunes during broadcasts, and on some channels, fans even have the ability to request songs.

This has put Twitch itself in a rather uncomfortable position. Copyright law still applies, after all, thanks to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). And clips on the platform containing copyrighted music could get the company into some legal trouble. While Twitch has diligently tried to silence older clips containing copyrighted music, it hasn't always detected all of them.

Now it seems a few copyright holders are making Twitch — and more specifically, several of its streamers — pay the price. If you're a streamer yourself, you might want to pay attention.

Several notable Twitch streamers are reporting that they've received copyright strikes on their Twitch channels. A streamer named fuslie, for instance, received two such strikes, and was warned, "if they find one more violation in my clips, my twitch account will be permabanned."

The same goes for another Twitch streamer by the name of Jake'n'Bake Live. He received a rather terrifying-looking email with a list of clips that were removed, as well as which clips supposedly contained copyright infringement. He expressed with some exasperation, "I can't go through 100,000 clips and delete anything that has some music in it. Scary."

For what it's worth, it seems as though Twitch is well aware of what's going on. In a tweet sent out after midnight on June 8, the company let streamers know it had received an "influx of DMCA takedown requests," stating, "we advise removing those clips."

The problem, as Jake'n'Bake Live noted, is that some streamers have so many clips it would be impossible to sift through them all. The easiest option, it appears, would be to just delete any and all clips. But that would also mean deleting a lot of a streamer's history on the platform, and would erase all the potential those clips have to generate money. It's a real conundrum.

The whole situation is made even worse by what could happen if streamers don't comply. It's pretty understandable that Twitch doesn't want to spend time handling a bunch of DMCA notices. These suck valuable resources away from more important parts of the platform. So Twitch is basically telling streamers to clear their channels of any music that could be subject to copyright strikes.

If streamers don't do this, and they accumulate enough strikes, they could be barred from the platform entirely. It's a drastic measure, and it may make Twitch seem like the bad guy in this scenario. The reality of the situation, however, is that the DMCA makes this kind of response necessary.

So what can Twitch streamers do to avoid trouble in the future? Honestly, it seems like the safest course of action at this point is to avoid playing music entirely. Playing a round of Warzone with your favorite track in the background will just invite record labels and musicians to hit your channel with a copyright strike. As was noted, enough of those could result in you being booted off of Twitch for good. It's not worth it.

Likewise, you'd probably be better off deleting any and all clips. We're well aware of how much this sucks. You probably have a ton of memories stored in those clips, which is why you should do your best to download what you can first. But if you've been streaming for a while, you probably have way too many clips to inspect each one closely. By deleting everything, you'll hopefully sleep a little better at night.

And if you're a Twitch viewer, be prepared for a world where streams just don't have music anymore — at least, not the popular tracks you've grown accustomed to. It's possible some of your favorite streamers have turned you onto new music. And having some tunes playing on a stream can make it feel more like a party and less like you're sitting next to someone on the couch, watching them play video games. It's great.

Unfortunately, it's now way too risky for your favorite content creators to play licensed music. By playing 50 Cent's "In Da Club," for instance, a streamer could very well lose their livelihood. No song in the world is worth that. Especially not that one.

Hopefully Twitch can work out some better way to deal with DMCA copyright strikes. Or perhaps the platform can work out some kind of "Content ID" system as YouTube did, with cuts of certain clips going to copyright holders. Until then, music on Twitch may be as good as dead. It's a sad, sad day.