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Twitch Streamers Banned Because Of The Live TV Meta

There have been plenty of bogus Twitch bans throughout the platform's history, but several recent high-profile bans have been a bit more complicated. Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) strikes are being levied against streamers for watching TV on their channels. Copyright law can get really confusing, especially when it comes to livestreaming. 

A platform like Twitch revolves around many streamers recording themselves while engaging with digital properties that are owned by someone else. Technically speaking, whether or not a person is allowed to produce content that uses those properties is dependent upon whether they've modified it enough that it qualifies as a new entity. In most cases, simply reacting to said property is usually not deemed to be transformative enough.

So far, the video game industry appears to be content with streamers recording themselves playing games. The relationship seems symbiotic, as streamers often drive sales to the games they like to play. Other industries don't appear to see it that way, however. DMCA strikes have become increasingly common against streamers who use copyright protected music on their channels. With the arrival of the new so-called "TV meta," a number of major streamers have landed themselves in hot water with the Amazon-owned streaming platform. Some streamers, such as Amouranth, have vowed to steer clear of the meta for fear of being banned. Others weren't so lucky.

Pokimane was suspended for watching Avatar

Imane "Pokimane" Anys received her first ever Twitch ban on January 7 after watching the Nickelodeon series "Avatar: The Last Airbender" on her channel. She didn't make it very far into the show before receiving the DMCA notification and subsequent strike. This surprised a lot of her followers, many of whom previously believed that Twitch would be reluctant to ban a popular contracted streamer who brings so much traffic to the platform.

The strike isn't affecting Pokimane too harshly, however. She quickly took to Twitter to joke that "the fire nation attacked," comparing the DMCA strike to the antagonists of "Avatar: The Last Airbender," and to let her fans know that she would be back for a 12-hour comeback stream at the end of her 48-hour suspension. 

Pokimane also stated that she believed that her ban was perfectly justified. "Just to be clear," she said, "I'm not surprised and I don't think this is unfair. [In my opinion], it was inevitable that publishers would take action, on me or someone else, during this react meta." Fair or not though, the ban was certainly surprising, especially since many other prolific streamers, including Mizkif, had watched the same show on stream without ramifications.

Hasan Piker got a strike for watching MasterChef

Hasan Piker, former HuffPost columnist and full-time Twitch streamer, has had a meteoric rise within just a few years, arguably blowing up bigger than ever in 2021. Piker regularly streams himself discussing news, politics, and current events while playing clips on stream to elucidate his arguments and views. That isn't what landed Hasan in hot water, however. Instead, the blame lies in his frequent streams of "MasterChef."

On January 8, 2022, the streamer received a copyright infringement notification, which he tweeted out with the caption, "the 'MasterChef' meta is over!" Unlike Pokimane however, Hasan's strike claim was later revoked. Some fans believe that this is because Hasan regularly paused the show he was watching and provided commentary, which Twitch may have deemed sufficiently transformative. 

Even so, Hasan made it clear during one of his streams that he doesn't believe the TV-watching meta is safe for popular Twitch streamers. He argued that Pokimane got in trouble because someone snitched on her, which led to the copyright holders stepping in. It may not be a surprise to see Piker streaming significantly less TV content in the future.

Disguised Toast got banned to prove a point

The same day the Pokimane received her ban, fellow streamer Disguised Toast commented on her tweet making the joke that "when the world needed him most, he vanished (and deleted all his vods and clips from the past 2 weeks)." This was another "Avatar" reference, but it was also a reference to the fact that had been watching anime during his recent streams.

To no one's great surprise, Toast received his own ban just three days later on January 10. What actually was surprising was just how long he was banned for. While Pokimane's ban lasted only 2 days, Toast told his fans that he'd be gone for a month. Some fans theorized that the dramatic difference in length is due to the sheer amount of media broadcast on Toast's channel. Whereas Pokimane only watched a few episodes of "Avatar," Toast logged several hours of "Naruto" and "Death Note" on stream.

Other fans thought that getting banned was Disguised Toast's intention all along — and Toast has since confirmed as much. A couple of days after his suspension, Toast revealed that his suspension was already over. Jumping on Twitch, Toast explained that he'd asked fellow streamer LilyPichu to report him for watching "Death Note." It took a week before his channel was copy-striked, but Toast accomplished his stated goal of scaring more streamers away from broadcasting copyrighted material on their channels.