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Twitch Implements Controversial New Policy Changes

Notably, a system to detect audio-based copyright infringement.

Twitch announced several big policy changes today, the most controversial of which involves a service that scans archived videos for copyrighted music, and muting 30 minutes of the video for each infraction.

"We respect the rights of copyright owners, and are voluntarily undertaking this effort to help protect both our broadcasters and copyright owners," said the company in a blog post.

The copyright technology scans videos in 30-minute chunks, and if any infringing music is found, the entire 30 minutes is muted. This only impacts archives, however, and does not extend to livestreams. It's not hard to imagine that's coming at a later date but simply not possible yet.

This has already created some pretty odd situations on the service, including Twitch's own streams being hit by copyright sweeps.

Though it hasn't been confirmed that Google is purchasing the streaming service, the company's policy changes today sounds awfully similar to what's rolled out on YouTube with its Content ID system.

The other changes involve its archive (VOD) system. In the past, Twitch allowed all users to save archived broadcasts indefinitely, but that's no longer the case. Normal Twitch users can have broadcasts saved for up to 14 days, while Turbo (paid) users can have them archived for 60 days. Either way, it's no longer forever. Highlight reels, used to spotlight a channel's best moments, are saved indefinitely, but are now limited to a maximum length of two hours. That will likely have an impact on speedrunning players.

Patrick Klepek on Google+
420 Comments
Posted by DTS

I wonder if Sony will push back against this. They have a vested interest in players wanting to use their cool Share tech. Maybe they strike a deal for exclusions from this system for things using their built in share functions? They probably spent a good deal of money making sure their console could be used for Twitch, but that'll all be for naught if players keep getting told their GTA V videos violate music copyrights. It'd be a real bummer if all that work was undone by Content ID.

It'll be really interesting to see what happens when a big company like Sony feels like their being negatively impacted by this, especially if they perceive it to be a major impact. I can see Nintendo not caring, but Sony probably doesn't want their Twitch-archive story to turn into "Yeah it sucks, don't bother with it, the audio never works right and it'll keep telling you that you're doing something illegal."

Posted by SaturdayNightSpecials

I assume you guys have a paid Twitch acct, so you don't have to worry about your archives being deleted.

Edited by csl316

Wild West Internet is on its way out more and more each year.

Sadly, Avril Lavigne's gonna find this one day and lose her shit.

Edited by fisk0

So, does these changes for how long archives remain on there also affect older archives? If so, I hope someone has managed to rip all those classic Giant Bomb streams that never were posted on the site, such as that SNES stream and some TNT's.

I assume you guys have a paid Twitch acct, so you don't have to worry about your archives being deleted.

But if these changes also affect archives made before this change, they will only remain up for 60 days.

Posted by crow13

Seems to be what happens when a big company takes over a little company. Big company just becomes a large target for copyright infringements so they have to change a ton of policies to keep from getting sued. Still sucks for users though. Does Ustream do this stuff too?

Posted by afrofools

@darek006 said:

I'm thinking about downloading all the GB content on Twitch that I can before deletion, but I don't know where to store the files. I don't just want to throw them up on YouTube, but maybe I'll have to.

YouTube essentially had this policy first so it would perhaps be best not to bother moving from one lemon tree to another.

Edited by BaconGames

I can somewhat understand the archive shift, even if it completely invalidates the entire point of telling people shit will be archived forever, if only because that's an enormous amount of data from random streamers with little to no audience to just sit there. The downside to that is now it puts the problem of archiving right in the laps of people who rightly took the twitch archiving for granted. The fact that so many communities and broadcasters are scrambling to preserve their good work, even if they're probably a minority of the overall data being affected, is going to be incredibly frustrating the moment something valuable is lost forever.

The music copyright scan business though? A disaster waiting to happen because it played it incredibly poorly for YouTube when it tried it. The fundamental issue being that the burden of proof is on the broadcaster and so any errant or unauthorized flagging gets put through, the content gets muted, and then it's up to the broadcaster/uploader to bust through the red tape. Often only to just be flagged again down the line, potentially without merit.

"Infractions" have also been automatically called on videos where the music was legitimately licensed which all but confirms the fundamental flaws with the system as implemented in the past. It would even be one thing if the muting system worked perfectly every time by people who had the authority to do the flagging but we have every evidence to assume it won't be the case and in fact we're already seeing it happen.

My only hope is that this stuff is copyright lip service to salvage what they can in the face of busted copyright law and our overly litigious culture. Otherwise it would have been for naught because unlike YouTube, people understood that this thing was for games and building a community around your streams.

Also I'd love to see the response from a publisher if people refuse to stream their games en masse because they're hard line with the copyright.

Posted by cadwr

I'm contemplating moving my streaming over to Hitbox. Aside from all of this, the significantly lower video delay sounds great- chat participation / conversation is one of my favorite things about streaming, and Twitch's delay significantly hampers that. I'll wait and see how things shake out over the next few days though. I expect Hitbox will have some pretty big problems scaling up to increased demand; many popular streamers have already started moving over. The VOD thing makes me glad that I make local recordings of everything, even if it uses hundreds of gigabytes. The next few days will be interesting for both Twitch and Hitbox.

Posted by Clonedzero

So basically any game with music can't be streamed. So like all games? Hmmm....

Edited by durden77

Thanks Google. Knew this kind of stuff was coming, but I had no idea it would be so instantaneous and automated like this. I don't even see how a service that is specifically created for streaming games full of copyrighted music is going to survive with this. Especially once it inevitably starts affecting live-streams.

Edited by WhitePolypousThing

@truthtellah: Not only just the biggest contributors. I have to imagine most people who contribute to/enjoy watching Twitch will see the negative impacts of these policies. Unlike in the case of Youtube, where policies similar to this only effected a percentage of its userbase, the blow back from this ought to be harder to ignore (theoretically).

Posted by Soniking

@patrickklepek: There are already a lot of people affected by the audio recognition stuff. I know you already highlight the issue but the bigger problem is in tandem with the VOD archiving issue and those potentialy affected. You also talk a bit about that in the last paragraph but it seemed like a lot of people talking about this have shortened the issue from the people who were obviously affected in one way or another into a conversation about user rage. You don't do this specifically, but that last chapter I thought could have used some bolstering. Hope I don't sound entirely like a jerk, I really like your writing.

Posted by Deusoma

@jackalol said:

@kaijuuninpo said:

Nothing good lasts forever unfortunately. Hopefully some new twitch-like service will come from out of nowhere and people will just migrate to that.

That's probably the most likely scenario. Or they backpedal hard on this new policy, after realizing how ridiculous it is.(probably not as likely)

Well hey, never say never, Microsoft backed off on the features that were going to cripple the Xbone after all, and they hate change for the consumer's sake.

Edited by derek_davis

All streamers should keep in mind, this service has been available completely free for a long time. Don't feel like you're entitled to these great services forever tho, shit costs money!!

Edited by KaneRobot

Just bring on the next upstart streaming service already. It's clear that Twitch is already pretty much fucked and will only get worse from here on out.

Posted by TruthTellah

You are all free now... from supporting Twitch. Where's the next streaming outlet that we should start supporting instead?

Posted by TheGorilla

Bye Twitch. End of a 6 month era.

This is why I skip music entirely. No desire to deal with these people in any way.

Edited by spraynardtatum

I'm deleting my account. Do you know what...I'm deleting my Youtube account too.

Edited by BBQBram

RIP Twitch.tv

Edited by Random45

I can see people making a case for censoring licensed music. If the record labels don't want free advertising, then so be it. However, blocking THIRTY MINUTES of audio is absolutely fucking unacceptable. Most songs nowadays are a little over three minutes, so blocking ten times that amount is ridiculous. Hell, I don't even know WHY people want to censor this shit in the first place, like I said, it's FREE advertising! I've actually looked up songs I never would have known about due to twitch streamers, and I will admit that I even went onto Amazon to buy some of the tracks!

However, they are ALSO blocking video game music as well! It's not just licensed music, which I find to be absolutely mind-blowing. They're seriously blocking the sounds of the fucking game?? What the fuck?!

They absolutely deserve the shit storm this is generating for not thinking this shit through.

Edit: What also pisses me off is how they're spinning it - they're claiming they're "Helping" their users with the introduction of this system. Oh for fucks sake, we're not fucking sheep, just come out with it and say why you REALLY implemented this change.

Edited by AngriGhandi

open contempt for your users and their needs

always a good business strategy

Posted by Gaff

Devil's Advocate here: Good for the session musicians. They get far too little recognition for their work and hopefully can get their share of the performing rights so they can eke a living.

Edited by valeo

Just like with Digg and Reddit, something else will fill the void.

The sad fact is; the more popular you are, the more pressure there is from idiots like the RIAA.

Edited by Irvandus

@rotnac: Want to post in chat? How about you sign in with Google Plus? No? Okay fine I'll just ask again tomorrow.

@deusoma: We are living in a world where Blizzard pulled out a feature disliked by their community before a year passed launch, so as far as I'm concerned anything is possible in this crazy world. I'm referring to the Artifact system in Heroes of the Storm.

Posted by iceman228433

well this sure sounds like it could be the end of Twitch.

Posted by Silver-Streak

Weeeell Crap.

Edited by TheSouthernDandy

Que the mass exodus from Twitch to whoever is doing it almost as well. I'm interested to see where this goes but Twitch needs to get this figured out or they're gonna lose out.

Edited by JuggaloAcidman

Does this effect video game music? Like the Mario theme song for instance?

Posted by guanophobic

@bacongames: Very well written, my thoughts exactly.

When Google bought Youtube there was a STRONG disbelief in the service, seeing as the most popular videos around then were copyrighted material and AMV-clips (technically copyright infringement?).

Youtube proved those doubters wrong as we all know by slowly creating it's own content/community over the years. That these people have to take the battle against these takedown systems now, is fucking absurd.

My guess is Youtube is putting pressure on Twitch to enforce these kinds of systems to

  1. Calm down copyright holders and investors, once the buyout is official.
  2. Have a scapegoat, telling users that "these systems were already in place before we took over, we're not the bad guy over here".
Posted by ToTheNines

All my vods got muted pretty damn fast. sad times..

I am thinking of jumping ship, these copyright laws are beyond arcane and should be adapted some way. Until then, I don't think I am willing to stay with twitch out of principle really, even though I don't blame them, they are just abiding to silly laws.

Posted by Irvandus

@juggaloacidman: Yes it seems like some are getting flagged. VoDs of the International 4 are being muted because of the in game music. It's insanity.

Posted by spraynardtatum

@gaff said:

Devil's Advocate here: Good for the session musicians. They get far too little recognition for their work and hopefully can get their share of the performing rights so they can eke a living.

HA!

Posted by guanophobic

@derek_davis said:

All streamers should keep in mind, this service has been available completely free for a long time. Don't feel like you're entitled to these great services forever tho, shit costs money!!

This. Also, people going over to sites like hitbox are probably going to get real disappointed, real soon if the masses are migrating too quickly from Twitch. I can't even fathom how high Twitch's bandwidth/datacenter costs must be.

Anyone got an insight on this?

Edited by TheManWithNoPlan

This whole fucking thing is a pile of gas sitting in a matchbook factory.

Posted by Sammo21

So how will this effect games like Grand Theft Auto or other games with licensed music.

Edited by crow13

@patrickklepek: Would be nice to know how/if they plan on doing anything for games that have copyrighted music as their soundtrack. i.e. GTA, Rock Band, Audiosurf.

Posted by Mr_Creeper

Looks like the sky WAS really falling.

Posted by wohlf

It was fun while it lasted...

Posted by RenegadeDoppelganger

So the rules on VOD retention only apply going forward right? Surely they can't be retroactively deleting VODs older than 14/60 days...

Posted by ToTheNines
@gaff said:

Devil's Advocate here: Good for the session musicians. They get far too little recognition for their work and hopefully can get their share of the performing rights so they can eke a living.

Excuse me but how the hell is a video game streamer who plays music on his stream affecting the living of any musicians? If his music is bought and paid for he has done his share. No one, unless you are a crazy person, tune into a stream hoping that a particular song will be played, that's beyond unrealistic. And even if that song was played, it would have blaring video game sounds and possibly commentary in the mix. It does not affect the musician's living at all.

Posted by guanophobic

@crow13 said:

@patrickklepek: Would be nice to know how/if they plan on doing anything for games that have copyrighted music as their soundtrack. i.e. GTA, Rock Band, Audiosurf.

Not to mention that Steve Aoki stream! *shudders*

Posted by SgtSphynx

This. Also, people going over to sites like hitbox are probably going to get real disappointed, real soon if the masses are migrating too quickly from Twitch. I can't even fathom how high Twitch's bandwidth/datacenter costs must be.

Anyone got an insight on this?

Funny you should mention that...

Edited by CornBREDX

@guanophobic said:

...

My guess is Youtube is putting pressure on Twitch to enforce these kinds of systems...

...

It's much more likely that they are getting pressure from the RIAA (same as google- although with google their pressure comes from other, more complicated, avenues as well).

Google (Youtube) has nothing to gain from pressuring Twitch to do anything.

I'm not saying they aren't talking about buying Twitch, but I'm not one to make assumptions based on rumors, and that rumor has yet to have any substantial merit. This policy change really has nothing to do with that, even if it is true, and is more likely just due to their new found growth. The RIAA has a history of being litigious. Any internet company that starts to get big enough to notice is going to have them knocking on the door sooner or later. It's in Twitch's best interest to get ahead of it now.

It sucks, but it really was only a matter of time. Same with what happened to Youtube. What's shitty is how difficult it is to prove what you're doing is in no way illegal or infringing, though. One can hope it wont be that bad with Twitch, but I don't know. We'll see how it pans out.

Posted by project343

@d_w said:

I don't know why Google thinks they can automate this sort of process.

That... that is fucking horrible. What a nightmare. This is a really easy way to shoo your audience toward other services.

Posted by shoshiaj

it sucks but makes sense or else the storage would get crazy

Posted by Robo

Oh neat. So they are literally doing exactly what a lot of 'cynics' said they would start doing once Google entered the picture.

So I guess those concerns were warranted, huh?

Posted by megalowho

Doesn't seem like a lot of nuanced thought went into the implementation of this decision, which is a real shame when you're dealing with a medium like video games where sounds and music are a core part of the experience. To not even attempt to find a more agreeable way to partner with in-game license holders aside from preemptive muting in 30 minute chunks is a real shame for such a promising platform. If streamers choose to migrate to Hitbox or a different service I wouldn't hesitate to follow.

Edited by casper_

@gaff: from my experience very few session guys get performance royalties. It's usually just a flat rate for the session. The main exception would be unionized groups like the orchestras that do film scores in CA.

Posted by subyman

So pretty much any stream with music (all streams) are going to be muted? The best are the streams in which the game's music is being flagged.