What exactly is DMCA and what can Twitch streamers do if slapped with a takedown notice?
Earlier this summer, Twitch streamers were subject to a wave of DMCA takedown requests for video clips that contain licensed music. For those creators with hundreds of such clips saved on their channel, this became a massive headache as they were demanded to manually remove any clip in violation with said policy, which for some could be nearly all of their content produced.
DMCA, which is short for The Digital Millenium Copyright Act, is 1998 United States federal law that has become infamous with the rise of social media platforms, in particular Youtube. Basically, it gives the content owners legal right to call out unlicensed use of its products and require they be taken down.
Now, whilst many Youtube creators are familiar with the DMCA, the situation on Twitch is unique in the sense that the takedown requests have come all at once, very suddenly. Twitch’s support did acknowledge the takedown requests, but simply advised channel owners to delete those video clips. For those users with large archives, Twitch has responded that they’re “working to make it easier”.
Twitch and their DMCA guidelines
The DMCA guidelines on Twitch are quite clear and states that “it’s our policy to respond to clear notices of claimed copyright infringement that fully comply with the Digital Millenium Copyright Act. In addition, we will promptly terminate without notice the accounts of those determined by us to be “repeat infringers”.”
The DMCA might be infamous, but many have also misunderstood its purpose. Primarily, the Act protects the interests of the copyright holders whilst also doing so for the platforms that would previously be liable for hosting unlicensed content uploaded without them knowing it. So, the purpose of the DMCA is to protect digital platforms such as Twitch, Amazon, or Youtube from liability from the copyright owner, in case someone using the platform uploads infringing media content.
What can streamers and content creators do if they’re hit with a DMCA takedown request?
Content creators can simply send a counter-notice through the platform and their media content will be reinstated. The owner of the licensed content then has a limited time frame within which to file a lawsuit against the content creator.
This means that, if the creator gets a counter-noticed bounced back at them, they very soon have to decide whether it is worth it for them escalating the situation to a lawsuit. Otherwise, the media content could stay up forever. In most situations, however, content creators and streamers will likely want to avoid the possibility of winding up in court facing giant media corporations.