Twitch 101

Copyrights and Your Channel

Copyrights and Your Channel

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Twitch is committed to supporting creators, so it’s important that you respect other creators’ rights in the content you stream and share on your channel. If you use another person’s copyrighted work in your content, they can send Twitch a takedown notification. It is our policy to act on those notifications under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”) and similar laws worldwide. It is also our policy to terminate the accounts of repeat infringers–i.e., people who on multiple occasions have been accused of infringing the rights of others. 

We know copyright law and the DMCA can be confusing, and that creators may not intend to infringe the copyrights of others. We’re here to help you understand the basics of copyright law and the tools available to you so that you can make informed decisions about using copyrighted material–including music, art, videos, etc.–in your stream to avoid copyright infringement in the future.

For the latest updates on the tools we are building to help you know where you stand with copyright strikes and easily control the content you share on your channel, check out our DMCA & Copyright FAQs help article

Copyright law and how it impacts your stream

A copyright is a type of intellectual property that gives its owner exclusive rights to certain uses of their creative work. In other words, it protects a person’s original, creative expression–in literature, art, education, or music–from being used by others without their permission. Copyrights are created every day by songwriters, recording artists, authors, visual artists, video producers and other creators just like you. In fact, every time you create a recording of your live stream, you’re likely creating a new copyrighted work.

A couple of things to note about copyrights. First, the law distinguishes between different “uses” of copyrights. This means the rights that you need to secure for copyrighted material in your live broadcast may be different than the rights needed for the same material in your recorded content (e.g. Clips or VODs). Finally, copyrights last a long time; actions you took many years ago can still infringe a copyright owner’s rights today. To put it simply: if you do not have the rights to use a copyrighted work, you should not use it in your stream–and if you are not sure if you have the rights, you probably don’t.

We recommend you take the time to read Twitch’s DMCA Guidelines, Community Guidelines, Music Guidelines, and Terms of Service. At first glance, it may seem like a lot of words about challenging concepts, but in reality, they offer more detail on what is and is not allowed on stream so that you can make informed decisions about the content you share on your channel. 

How to manage the recorded content on your channel

If there is copyrighted material in the content shared on your channel–and you have not received explicit permission to use that material from the rights holder–you are at risk of receiving a DMCA takedown notification. This includes music, art, sports broadcasts,  TV shows, or any other copyrighted material. You should also consider whether the rights holder has given you permission to include copyrighted material in your channel, and under what terms–for example, you may be authorized to broadcast an esports tournament, but only if you follow the rules of the tournament organizer. 

Since 2014, we have used a technology service called Audible Magic to proactively scan your VODs. If Audible Magic detects copyrighted audio, we will automatically mute that portion of the VOD (please note muting is not a DMCA strike). We recently expanded this service to scan Clips as well. If copyrighted audio is identified in any of your Clips, we will automatically delete those Clips. That being said, like all technology, Audible Magic is not fail safe. It is also not a substitute for you following the rules. Be sure you are respecting the rights of others, you should not play recorded music on your stream that you don’t have the rights to. 

You can guard against receiving DMCA takedown notifications for content stored on your channel by reviewing all of the content in your Creator Dashboard (including Clips, VODs, and Highlights) and removing any content in question. VODs can be deleted or unpublished in batches of up to 20 at a time, or all at once.  You also have the option of limiting Clip creation to your followers and/or subscribers in your Stream Settings or deleting all of your Clips at once. If you are looking to do this but want to retain certain Clips that you do not want to lose completely, you have the option to download them to your personal files. Visit the help pages for VODs and Clips to learn more about managing the content on your channel.

How to permissibly use music on your channel

We know that many of you use music in your streams for a variety of purposes. In an effort to keep your stream sounding great without putting your channel at risk, we developed a new tool that’s free for all Twitch creators: Soundtrack by Twitch. Soundtrack provides a library of music that is licensed for use in your stream and that doesn’t transfer to your Clips or VODs, so you can share the music-free version on other sites. Learn more about Soundtrack’s features and how to download it for your stream here. You can also see it in action at Twitch.tv/soundtrack.

In addition to Soundtrack, there are a number of other companies that make music available for streamers. Chillhop and Soundstripe, for example, offer membership options for music licensing.

It’s important to note that receiving a DMCA takedown notification is not a determination that you have engaged in copyright infringement. That is because these notifications can be sent even if: 

  • You haven’t used the copyrighted work–they’re simply mistaken that their work was used.
  • You didn’t engage in an impermissible use–you used their work in a way that doesn’t violate any of their exclusive rights.
  • You’ve obtained a license to use the copyrighted work–in other words, you have permission from them to do so. 
  • You’ve used the copyrighted work in a way that constitutes fair use–for example, you parodied a portion of a TV show or provided commentary on a newsworthy event. 
  • The work is not copyrighted, for example, because it is in the public domain–think Mozart or A Tale of Two Cities.
  • The person sending the DMCA notification isn’t the copyright owner or isn’t authorized to act on behalf of the copyright owner–for example, because they themselves transferred or never had the necessary rights or are “spoofing”, or pretending to be, the rights holder.

Twitch is not a copyright court, and isn’t in a position to judge whether you impermissibly used someone’s copyrighted work without their permission or authority. We respect the rights of copyright owners and process all DMCA notifications we receive in an expeditious manner. We also respect your rights as a creator, and maintain a policy that empowers you to take action against wrongful allegations of copyright infringement by sending a counter-notification or by asking the copyright holder to retract their claim. Please review our DMCA Guidelines if you believe your content was flagged as the result of mistake or misidentification. You can also consider the information on addressing incorrect DMCA notifications from the Berkman Center and Copyright Alliance, as well as resources available through a legal services organization, which can be contacted in the event you have questions or concerns about a DMCA takedown notification that targets your channel.

 

For answers to frequently asked questions, please refer to our DMCA & Copyright FAQs help article.