Copyright School: Why are copyright laws important for me to think about?
Your responsibility as a streamer
As a streamer, you’re responsible for what you stream and upload to your channel, including ensuring that material you share on Twitch doesn’t infringe someone else’s copyright. When you create a Twitch account or use the Twitch service, you agree to Twitch’s Terms of Service , which explain how you’re responsible for any and all content that you stream or upload on your channel.
Our DMCA Guidelines explain Twitch’s role in the notice-and-takedown process and what your rights and responsibilities are as a streamer.
Permitted and Not Permitted Content
Not permitted - Content that cannot be shared on Twitch – sharing copyrighted works in the ways below is against Twitch’s Terms of Service, and could result in a rights holder or their agent sending a DMCA notification against the material that included those works.
- Restreaming someone else’s copyrighted work without their permission - Examples you might be familiar with include (but are not limited to) streaming the following: Sporting events, TV shows and movies, concerts, artwork, and music. Like you, copyright owners put a lot of effort into creating their art, so make sure you get permission before sharing.
- Using someone else’s copyrighted work without a license or in a way that exceeds the scope of the license / authorization. Examples:
- Streaming a pre-release video game where the publisher or developer has placed an embargo on streaming before a certain date, or streaming a closed alpha or beta that the video game publisher or developer has asked not to be streamed.
- Streaming versions of video games that are either hacked or modified in ways that the copyright holder of the game does not authorize for streaming.
- Playing any sort of music during your stream that you don’t own or that you aren’t authorized to share on Twitch. For example, you may be subscribed to a music streaming service that allows you to play music for your personal use, but doesn’t allow you to perform music to audiences on Twitch or elsewhere. Since music rights are complicated, we’ve developed Music Guidelines to help explain how music can and can’t be used on Twitch.
Permitted - Content that can be shared on Twitch.
- Original content that does not include others’ copyrighted works - Unique content that you create, such as performing your own artwork (creating original visual art, playing music you wrote, etc.), cooking streams, Just Chatting, etc. This doesn’t use others’ copyrighted works!
- Content that includes copyrighted works that you’ve been licensed or authorized to stream on Twitch - There are a variety of situations in which you might have a license from a copyright holder or have their permission to stream and/or upload their work on Twitch. For example, you can stream video games that game publishers and developers have authorized to be streamed on Twitch and similar services (you can often see this information on their website). As another example, there are a number of third-party music services designed for streamers (including those listed in our Music Options for Streamers article) that give users permission to stream their catalog of songs on Twitch.
A good rule of thumb is:
If you own the rights to copyrighted material or if you are licensed or otherwise authorized to share that material on Twitch, you should know this. If you aren’t sure, then most likely you don’t have the rights or authorization to share that content on Twitch.
I have a license to play music in my stream but still received a DMCA notification for the song. How do I resolve this?
There may be several reasons why you might have received a DMCA notification even though you used licensed music.
- First, DMCA notifications can be inaccurate. If you believe you have the necessary rights to stream music on Twitch or include music in your recorded videos, you can consider submitting a counter-notification or contacting the person who submitted the DMCA notification to seek a retraction. (Our DMCA Guidelines explain how you can submit a counter-notification.)
- Second, it is possible that your license does not cover the way you used the music on Twitch - we encourage you to review the terms of your license and only use music in the ways you’ve been authorized.
Please also remember that Twitch may send you copyrighted audio warnings by email that are not DMCA notifications nor copyright strikes.
What happens if I had a license to use the content, and then the license changed or was revoked?
You are responsible for ensuring that you have the rights to live stream or store copyrighted material on Twitch. If the terms of your licensing agreement change and you no longer have the rights to use the content, it is your responsibility to remove the content from your channel.
I’m a professional musician. Can I play recordings of my own music on stream?
First off, we’re honored that you’ve arrived at Twitch and are interested in streaming. We believe that you’re in the best position to determine, in light of any agreements you have entered, if you have the necessary rights to include your own music in the content on your channel. Our Music Guidelines provide additional guidance about how you may and may not use music on Twitch, depending on the terms of your licenses.
For more tips on streaming music on Twitch, check out our guide here .
What if I pay a monthly subscription fee to a company to enjoy copyrighted works, like a music or TV/film streaming service?
It depends on what rights the company gives you as part of the subscription service – services may give subscribers a license to enjoy copyrighted works for their personal enjoyment but not to share those works with others. You should review the subscription terms to see if you’re allowed to share those copyrighted works on services like Twitch.
Do I need to worry about a DMCA notification if the artist has given public approval to use their music?
It’s possible for an artist to say they’re giving you a license or other approval to use their music when they don’t actually have the authority to do so. This could happen because another party – for example, a record label or a music publisher – controls the rights to the music that the artist performed. If an artist has given the public authorization to use their music and you receive a DMCA notification for that music, you can consider contacting the artist or claimant and asking if they can retract their notification.
I received a DMCA notification for copyrighted music used in approved Bits extensions. What should I do?
Extensions are tools that can be used in a variety of ways, including ways that involve the use of music or other copyrighted material. Even when you’re using an Extension, you are responsible for ensuring you have the necessary rights to any music used in content shared on your channel.