(Hypebot) — Responding to label demands, Twitch has added a new tool that will make slapping its creators with DMCA notices easier than ever. Timothy Geigner of Techdirt calls foul.
Op-ed by Timothy Geigner of Techdirt
If you’ve been following along with us, the past several months haven’t gone great for streaming platform Twitch. It all started with Twitch’s decision to simply nuke a bunch of streamer content as a result of a massive influx of DMCA notices it received. While Twitch streamers and some in the public went ballistic over this, the company decided to try to distract the world with bright shiny objects like emojis, only to continue to let the DMCApocalypse continue even after it apologized for its lack of transparency. Then Amazon, which owns Twitch, put on Twitch’s GlitchCon and spent a pretty penny on it, while streamers on the platform wondered why Amazon didn’t just spend that money on the licensing needed to keep streamers out of copyright jail. Fresh into 2021, Twitch then gave creators tools to help avoid copyright strikes, which mostly consisted of convenient ways to delete a bunch of their own content while not bothering to put in a method for policing DMCA abuse.
And now it seems like a near certainty that this is all going to get way, way worse. Twitch, without notice, recently released a new tool on its site to make it even easier to issue DMCA notices on creators.
Now, it is worth noting that this approach is somewhat different. Because this page requires a Twitch login in order to submit a claim, this appears to be less about giving industry rightsholders a way to DMCA the hell out of Twitch and more about giving fellow Twitch creators a way to DMCA the hell out of each other. Now, nothing prevents anyone who wants to use this tool from just creating a Twitch account to do so, so there is certainly the potential for abusing this new tool.
And it seems Twitch knows that, as this tool forces anyone looking to issue a DMCA notice to affirm that they’re doing so rightfully.
Users must also fill out their contact information and agree that the claim is filed in good faith. However, seemingly to prevent abuse of this feature, Twitch also states that users must state they are “authorized to act on behalf of the owner of an exclusive right that is allegedly infringed” under penalty of perjury.
Viewers seem a bit mixed on the new feature, with some suspecting it will result in more bans and reports than we’d see otherwise.
Of course it will. This is going to make things measurably worse on the DMCA front, with the only real question being just how bad this is going to get. And, mind you, this is all done instead of Amazon investing in the licensing Twitch creators would need in order to be relatively safe from being DMCA’d to hell.
Now, we can argue all day long whether our dumb copyright culture has ballooned into a scenario where all these licenses and all of this enforcement of copyright is really silly and counterproductive for all involved. I’m way into that discussion. But given the current reality, Amazon is simply not doing right by Twitch’s most valuable asset: it’s creative community.