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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
Edited by spraynardtatum

Twitch wants to show everyone how big their red hairy balls are and brag about the size of their throbbing cock. Us common folk need to recognize all the glory if their giant googly penis.

Posted by Luck702

It's almost like Twitch is actively trying to piss off its audience. I don't stream or watch streams, but I can imagine the death of permanent archives is a pretty big deal for those that do. I foresee a mass migration to other services in the twitch user-base future.

Posted by 014

If you guys are interested in streaming using your own server, a couple of us folk at the OBS project forum created virtual machines that you can download and start using with little to no configuration necessary.

http://obsproject.com/forum/threads/private-rtmp-server-preconfigured-virtualbox-image.5873/page-2

As many of you will know, OBS is open source software that a lot of Twitch streamers use to live capture their game and upload to Twitch.

Posted by XenoNick

So uh R.I.P Twitch I guess?

Posted by SgtSphynx

@robo: We are cynics for a reason, you know.

Posted by BlazeHedgehog

@d_w said:

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

Well, I mean, because there's such a volume of content that they would have to hire hundreds, if not thousands of people to police this stuff?

Automation is the only practical, cost-effective solution. Tens of thousands of hours of video are being streamed and uploaded daily.

Posted by SomeJerk

VODs containing bits of free public domain music have been found muted. Watch out Giantbomb :(

Posted by madman356647

@blazehedgehog: Combination of that, and if they didn't copyright holders would sue Google to oblivion (like the Viacom v. Youtube stuffs). They kind of have to go this route just to avoid getting wrapped up in DMCA nonsense/loss of safe harbor I suppose.

Posted by Deathpooky

I would guess this was a requirement of the impending Google purchase. Since Google has spent years covering their ass on copyright infringement in Youtube videos they host, they wouldn't want to purchase a trove of videos that didn't have similar restrictions. You can't credibly tell copyright holders "we're doing everything we can to protect you" when you own tons of hours of videos with blatant copyright issues.

And really, Twitch is being bought for live broadcasts, not VODs. Google already has a VOD service. Twitch's VODs are not long for this world. This is likely only a stopgap until they make Youtube the VOD/archiving system for Twitch streams, complete with Youtube's restrictions.

And I'm sure copyright regulation on livestreams will be coming as soon as technically feasible for all Google-owned streaming services.

Edited by spraynardtatum

@d_w said:

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

Well, I mean, because there's such a volume of content that they would have to hire hundreds, if not thousands of people to police this stuff?

Automation is the only practical, cost-effective solution. Tens of thousands of hours of video are being streamed and uploaded daily.

Just cost effective enough to undermine the very core reason the site exists.

Posted by Clonedzero

@d_w said:

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

Well, I mean, because there's such a volume of content that they would have to hire hundreds, if not thousands of people to police this stuff?

Automation is the only practical, cost-effective solution. Tens of thousands of hours of video are being streamed and uploaded daily.

Yeah, but people aren't streaming just songs and movies like they do on youtube. Theres no practical reason to do this, it just makes no sense. People dont watch twitch streams to hear music....

Posted by Emoney244

@kaijuuninpo: I'm pretty sure there are quite a few... Ustream, hitbox.tv, there are probably more.

Edited by Robo

@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.

That's one of the best (worst) parts! There's a very good chance that sort of thing will get muted too. Hell, it already is getting muted for a lot of streams. It doesn't matter the context in which the music is used. All that matters is that it wasn't licenced for use in the stream.

@draxyle said:

I can't fathom why the music industry would target streaming video in particular. Who is declining to buy music because some streamer is playing it in the background? Is there a criminal ring of people just streaming copyrighted music for profit?

This is a change that benefits no one that I can think of.

You're thinking about it too logically. Think like the music industry.

To them, every single instance of someone hearing more than a few seconds of anything they can sell is money they should be collecting.

@robo: We are cynics for a reason, you know.

Oh there was a healthy dose of sarcasm in that post. Believe me, I'm a card-carrying unapologetic cynic myself.

Posted by guanophobic

@cornbredx:

If Twitch is looking for buyers in a hurry, these kinds of fixes would make a sell a hell of a lot easier to make.

Google would have a hell of a lot easier time to convince investors if these systems are already in place when they get there. And Google would have a scape goat for complaining users, saying these systems were in place way before they got there.

But sure, RIAA could just as easily have put pressure on Twitch themselves. It just so happens to be right when these rumours of Twitch wanting to sell start to surface.

Posted by golguin

Well that's one way to fuck everything up with streaming on Twitch. There will be a great migration to another service right?

Posted by SgtSphynx

@golguin: Pretty sure it's already happening...

Posted by Brodehouse

You know how people are loading up Twitch streams when they want to hear copyrighted funk tracks, it's practically killed the market. I have data right here that says that Twitch streaming accounts for $48.7 million dollars in record industry losses every year.

Posted by guanophobic

@014 said:

If you guys are interested in streaming using your own server, a couple of us folk at the OBS project forum created virtual machines that you can download and start using with little to no configuration necessary.

http://obsproject.com/forum/threads/private-rtmp-server-preconfigured-virtualbox-image.5873/page-2

As many of you will know, OBS is open source software that a lot of Twitch streamers use to live capture their game and upload to Twitch.

That's a really cool initiative! I can picture streamers crying their eyes out from the first bandwidth bill.

That is if the server's aren't just crashing instantly or their home bw maxes out.

Posted by Robo

For the record, the VOD expiration date makes perfect sense. Those videos had to have been taking up INSANE amounts of storage space.

Posted by I_Stay_Puft

Sad time for fans of streamers. Well if makes people feel better, it'd be pretty damn interesting if people who were once streaming on twitch just switches back to Justin.tv after the "sell" or if this just causes more people to start using ustream.

Posted by guanophobic

@robo said:

For the record, the VOD expiration date makes perfect sense. Those videos had to have been taking up INSANE amounts of storage space.

And a incentive to just archive to youtube? Or is that functionality not in?

Posted by MikeFerrari7

You know what gets me? This was free marketing. I don't watch twitch, but if I did and came across a song I liked, I'd be more likely to check out the band, and even purchase the song. You think I'm going to rely on a twitch archive to listen to music? What is this, 2006 with MySpace again?

Edited by Alyssia

@truthtellah said:

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

Probably http://instagib.tv/ It's a very unknown shadowy streaming service that has no rules. Saw some streams of Watch Dogs like a month before it was even out there.

Think of Twitch as the Napster of live streaming. Many others will pop up in it's wake.

Posted by zladko
Posted by Gaff

@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.

Again, Devil's Advocate:

Once you buy a piece of music, you're allowed to play it in the comfort of your own home, sure. Once you start using it in a stream, in other words broadcasting it, you would have to have gotten permission from the composer / writer / performer for a public broadcast, which in all likelihood would entail paying royalties to composer / writer / performer. Regardless of the circumstances.

While it can be argued that a commentated playthrough of a game constitutes a critique or transformation into something other than the original work, the same cannot be said of the music. Unless you would argue that a complete playthrough of, for example, Streets of Rage constitutes a critique of Yuzo Koshiro's work.

Posted by spraynardtatum

I'm so jealous of the size of Twitch's balls. I wish I could swing mine with half as much force as them. :(

Edited by Robo

Just as it did when this started happening on YouTube, the "protecting the artist" excuse is coming up a lot. But if you really think that's what this is about, you're mistaken.

"I have not asked for any streams of @NecroDancerGame to be taken down. I don't understand who could have requested they be muted."

"nobody but me has the authority to ask for a takedown of @NecroDancerGame music on twitch. if you're getting takedowns please let me know!"

- Danny Baranowsky

Edited by I_Stay_Puft

@zladko said:

@i_stay_puft: JTV was taken down yesterday.

Nooooo! My Bobby Brown dancing streams! How will I ever master the moves of the New Edition bad boy.

Posted by spraynardtatum
Posted by Dagbiker

At least my PS3 can still stream to the kinda less shitty ustream.

Edited by ThatOneDudeNick

So if I'm streaming a game with a soundtrack (like GTA or Saints Row), my archive is going to be muted? Even if it's in game music? I don't stream a ton, but I can imagine that being annoying to people that do this for a living. I play music on my stream (normally hip hop instrumentals), I wonder how that would work. I also never have more than 20 viewers at once (and I'm not partnered), so I don't think they're worried about someone like me. It would suck to have archives muted though. Oh well, adapt or move on.

Edited by waudad01

I actually would like to see someone call out the companies that are making these claims against the music. This is going to turn into the cluster that Youtube currently is with claims being made by companies that are not truly the owners of the music they are making claims on. Most of the major Youtubers (gaming sites like GB are different but could be similar) are getting hit with claims even though they have express written consent from the gaming company and sometimes even the music creator. The big one going around with Twitch is the Curse of the Necrodancer. These companies and the music industry needs to catch up with the times and realize that the internet has changed things again and react accordingly.

Posted by BradBrains

Moderation over automation.

The "play it safe" model of google sucks.

Posted by Lurkero

Looks like other streaming services may have to get more server space soon. Google's takedown policy is too anti-user and what's the point of utilizing Google's infrastructure if stream archives aren't permanent? At least allow paid users to archive videos indefinitely.

Edited by Pr1mus

Even if you wanted to legally get the rights to use some music in your videos I wonder why would anyone do it when an automated system will take the video down/mute it regardless.

This has always been the worst possible way to address this issue from the beginning and the fact it comes from the biggest players in videos and streaming is depressing.

Posted by Fox318

I really hope the FCC blocks the sale of twitch to Google or we get a new competitor to the streaming scene.

Valve would be a perfect.

Edited by villainy

So an automated system that delivers a message to a system that automates the process of blanket enforcement? Got it.

Copyright holders pay companies like Audible Magic specifically so they don't have to do this themselves. My limited understanding is that they can also provide tools that would allow copyright holders to enforce different rules based on the content detected. Actually using those tools for fine-grained enforcement takes like time and effort though so eff that man just nuke em all!

Seems like this was bound to happen but it's still shitty. Doubly so for a service dedicated to streaming video games which invariably contain content that falls under a (sometimes shaky) copyright.

Edited by IndridCipher

Honestly all these changes are good and were going to happen at some point anyways. I don't stream much myself, i don't expect to ever make money streaming, I don't care what music someone is listening to while they stream, and I think this effects very little of what i use Twitch for. I don't really get why people complain so much about this stuff. If you aren't directly effected and you don't make a living off Twitch, why do you care? It is the same thing to me as it was yesterday.

Also can a streamer still play music but the archive is just muted? Who fucking cares then? Why are people acting like the sky is falling over Twitch archives. If people couldn't play it while streaming then sure act like crazy people i guess... but for VODs? Come on people...

Posted by Gaff

@patrickklepek: You could always reach out to UltraDavid / David Philip Graham again, seeing as he's a lawyer and self professed IP expert ;)

Posted by SgtSphynx

@indridcipher: Except for the part where in game music is being muted. It's not just music streamers are playing over the game.

Posted by SgtSphynx

@gaff said:

@patrickklepek: You could always reach out to UltraDavid / David Philip Graham again, seeing as he's a lawyer and self professed IP expert ;)

That's not a bad idea, I'd like to see his take on this.

Posted by BaconGames

@villainy said:

So an automated system that delivers a message to a system that automates the process of blanket enforcement? Got it.

Copyright holders pay companies like Audible Magic specifically so they don't have to do this themselves. My limited understanding is that they can also provide tools that would allow copyright holders to enforce different rules based on the content detected. Actually using those tools for fine-grained enforcement takes like time and effort though so eff that man just nuke em all!

Seems like this was bound to happen but it's still shitty. Doubly so for a service dedicated to streaming video games which invariably contain content that falls under a (sometimes shaky) copyright.

I don't understand what you mean by the first bit which doesn't necessarily mean I disagree with you. Ultimately my point is that automation isn't necessarily the problem as much as its misuse. If messages were all it could generate and instead it's up to the copyright holders to actually click a button to flag something, then at the very least it would avoid issues like the ones where the system is flagging clips without the original copyright holder even knowing. Arguably the biggest damage incurred by the automation of the system is that it can touch the entirety of the network or archive base and if implemented poorly, affect damn near anyone.

Posted by TheMasterDS

Jesus Christ. Everyone should get off Twitch. I don't respect any site that doesn't keep shit up for posterity.

Posted by Luck702
@fox318 said:

I really hope the FCC blocks the sale of twitch to Google or we get a new competitor to the streaming scene.

Valve would be a perfect.

American anti-trust regulations are dead thanks to people called lobbyists. Hell, all regulation is dead because of them.

Edited by TheManWithNoPlan

I legitimately hope people take a stand and show Twitch they aren't happy. It's nice seeing that tweet above indicating they're starting to.

Posted by Lyisa

I would be shocked if in a month anybody even cares about this and twitch isn't still the biggest video game streaming site.

Literally nothing about viewership and number of streamers will change.

Posted by GERALTITUDE

Can't even pay to have streams up forever? Seems funny. I'm willing to be charged..

Edited by TheManWithNoPlan
@lyisa said:

I would be shocked if in a month anybody even cares about this and twitch isn't still the biggest video game streaming site.

Literally nothing about viewership and number of streamers will change.

Sadly... I wouldn't be surprised either. As passionate and as intense as the internet can be with stuff like this, it can be just as equally amnesic/complacent.

Posted by theanticitizen

Man, the music thing is bad enough but knowing that I'm going to lose SPL and GSL VODs really upsets me. I can't stay up until 2 am every weekend to watch Korean Starcraft. Those are the only ways I can catch up. This is terrible for people who want to catch up on this stuff. I'm sure all the Starcraft VODs(including Blizzard sponsored ones) are muted too now