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Pokimane's Ban Means More Than You Realized

Several streamers have eagerly jumped on the bandwagon of Twitch's latest meta: TV viewing. While this new meta might sound odd, it's a sort of natural evolution of streamers who use the bulk of their time online to react to various goings-on around the internet. For example, xQc has spent a significant amount of time watching the Gordon Ramsey-led cooking game show "MasterChef" with his audience. However, the new meta comes with some risks. Watching copyrighted material on stream is often grounds for Twitch to ban streamers. Although Twitch changed its DMCA ban policy for the better in 2021, it still notes streamers who repeatedly violate rules. Though some streamers are no strangers to bans, one recently received their first strike for playing a copyrighted show on stream.


Pokimane was banned for the first time ever on Jan. 7 while watching a clip from "Avatar: The Last Airbender" with her audience. Pokimane had attempted to jump onto the growing "TV Meta" by viewing a fan-favorite show with her chat. It was supposedly her first time watching the show, according to her stream title, but she didn't get to enjoy it for long. After receiving the ban, Pokimane quickly took to Twitter to explain what happened and voice how she felt about the entire incident. Her reaction wasn't what many viewers expected, but her ban may have interesting implications for the future of the "TV Meta."

Pokimane said she deserves her ban

For the most part, Pokimane felt fine about the ban. She jokingly tweeted, "The fire nation attacked," referencing the popular show Twitch banned her for watching. Poki followed up to confirm that she had only received a 48-hour suspension, and that she'd return with a lengthy 12-hour stream to make it up to her fans. All in all, the streamer wasn't surprised or angry about the ban.


"Just to be clear, i'm not surprised and i don't think this is unfair," she said."IMO, it was inevitable that publishers would take action, on me or someone else, during this react meta." Pokimane promised to talk in more detail about the situation with her followers once her ban expired, noting that the conversation required some nuance that she wasn't prepared to fully discuss on Twitter.

Nathan Grayson of The Washington Post noted that Pokimane experienced a live DMCA ban, meaning that software detected the use of copyrighted material mid-stream. Grayson tweeted, "this comes on the heels of twitch's tv meta, which many have voiced wariness about due to the chance of, well, this happening." Grayson continued to explain that another popular streamer, Hasan Piker, had recently been banned for watching "MasterChef" on his channel, and that this could be the beginning of the end for the "TV Meta."


Is the TV meta over?

Business analyst Mike Futter described the new Twitch meta as a bold risk for streamers, writing, "TIL there's a 'TV meta' on Twitch, which is just streaming copyrighted linear content. Sure. Just stick your head in the lion's mouth." It's true that streamers who choose to engage in the TV meta begin with the knowledge of Twitch's copyright rules. For many, the entire prospect seems too dangerous.


Amouranth, a streamer particularly known for conquering each and every new meta that appears on Twitch, said that she plans to steer clear of the TV meta because she's already a target for bans and blatantly violating copyright would surely land her in hot water. As Amouranth pointed out, Twitch doesn't treat all streamers equally. Some users seem to be on a secret "do not ban" list, as revealed in the 2021 Twitch leak. With a crackdown on copyrighted content underway, it's possible no streamer is safe, though. 

Many Twitter users were quick to point out that while many DMCA rules don't make sense, protecting copyrighted television programs does. Wynton Wong explained, "I think one of the most disappointing aspects of the Twitch TV/DMCA meta is that it fundamentally undervalues art and artists' work. Is copyright kinda broken? Yes. Does that entire TV crew have value and deserve to be paid? Also yes."


When viewers tune in to their favorite streaming service to watch a show, the creators behind that show receive some sort of compensation, ideally. However, that's more complicated (and even impossible) to do when streamers distribute a program to thousands of followers. For now, it's ultimately unclear what will happen to the TV meta — but if Pokimane's ban is any indication, it doesn't have long left.