Wednesday Twitch warned its users to delete any videos containing copyrighted music. PC Gamer reports on what happened next: Since October, Twitch has been deleting significant quantities of videos over copyright claims, leaving the affected streamers with no way to respond or issue counter-claims. Twitch eventually explained that the number of DMCA notifications it receives from major record labels has surged, going from “fewer than 50” each year to “thousands” beginning in May. The recommendation offered to streamers was to play games with the music muted, which obviously isn’t great advice when it comes to rhythm games, or games that don’t have the option to mute music separately from other audio. Meanwhile, some streamers have had videos muted due to sound effects, with claims coming via automated content recognition software Audible Magic. These claims can be contested, but it’s still frustrating for those affected by content ID software that can’t tell the difference between copyrighted audio and the noise of a grandfather clock chiming in a horror game. In response, streamers have been protesting by playing games with the sound off completely to highlight the absurdity of the situation, some using the hashtag #DMCAsoundoff. Watching Rocksmith players grunt or silently nod along to songs nobody can hear highlights the problem while still entertaining their viewers, as does hearing them improvise their own the sound effects for games like Resident Evil 2. Polygon argues it’s “alarming that these are the lengths players are going to in order to try and protest Twitch’s policy…” But they also applauded the creativity of the protesters It’s a surprising look at the transformative nature of streaming. When players are forced to play in dead silence, people still tune in and watch. Even while complying with copyright law to the absolute letter, each stream is different, and each act of protest feels wholly unique. Twitch recently posted a long statement in response to the controversy, writing: “Your frustration and confusion with recent music-related copyright issues is completely justified. Things can — and should — be better for creators than they have been recently. We should have developed more sophisticated and user-friendly tools long ago. To all the creators who lost their community’s best moments, we’re sorry. This shouldn’t have happened.” Despite the statement, Twitch has yet to provide concrete solutions for the ongoing problem, and the platform has yet to address the issue of in-game audio triggering the DMCA process (besides a suggestion to mute in-game audio.)
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