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Twitch Is Striking Its Own Music Now

Soundtrack, Twitch's "rights cleared music tool" that provides streamers with safe music and sounds to use, might not be so safe after all, if Twitch streamer Kevin Martin's recent experience is any indication. On June 5, Martin tweeted a video in which he explained that he had recently received two DCMA strikes for including Soundtrack-sourced music in his stream. In theory, that means he can only receive one more strike before his account could be fully terminated. He was upset that this happened "with no warning," especially since he has been "using a song/product Twitch gave to streamers and advertised as safe."

This issue didn't happen in isolation. Since the CASE Act became law in December 2020 and made it a lot harder for Twitch streamers to include music in their content without facing harsh legal penalties, streamers have been in a serious bind. Not long before this, Twitch did a botched job of carrying out copyright enforcement, causing major stress for its streamers. To this day, streamers still have mixed feelings about navigating the fast-moving and confusing world of DMCA rules and related bans.

Untangling Twitch's takedowns

So, is what happened to Martin totally unfair? Not quite. As streaming news journalist Zach Bussey broke down in a Twitter reply to Martin, Soundtrack must be used as directed to be entirely safe — and it's apparently not for clips or VODs. Bussey summarized the issue as "this ridiculous narrative that it's Twitch's fault @KevinRobMartin doesn't read instructions."

Fellow streamer Jamie Staples commented on Martin's post, further explaining "Twitch soundtrack is only copyright cleared for live performances not VODs and videos," which is emphasized when Soundtrack is downloaded and reiterated "via lots of partner emails." Though he agreed that "the rules suck," they've been around for "at least 8 months now," and at the end of the day, it seems that copyright law is to blame, not Twitch itself.

Though Soundtrack was never designed as a free-for-all, it makes sense that streamers might miss some fine print due to the ever-changing rules and regulations. In response to Martin's situation, Twitch streamer Nackell tweeted, "creators shouldn't have to dig through the weeds like this for something advertised as safe." Martin later thanked his sympathetic fans, adding, "I hope a strike will get removed because I just want to play cards and make poker shows."

Only time will tell if Martin's strikes will remain and how Twitch will respond.