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Twitch CEO Responds to New Copyright Policy Criticism

Twitch CEO Emmet Shear attempts to answer the hoards of question from confused Twitch users through Reddit.

There are many unhappy streamers and viewers alike after Twitch's recent audio copyright laws, which came as a surprise to users of the site. This implements automated censorship of thousands of archived videos, muting flagged audio.

Twitch CEO Emmet Shear started a Reddit Ask Me Anything thread in an attempt to answer the masses of questions that the public had about these radical changes. He started the thread by explaining that Twitch won't be censoring live video, only audio, to put Twitch users worst fears to rest. Unfortunately this announcement was not enough to keep users happy; Shear's answers were constantly down-voted, leading to many being hidden behind a 'warning'. 

Thanks to Reddit user, Rotsuki, Shear's answers have been documented for all to see the details of this interesting thread. These include:

Firstly, the burning question we all wanted to ask when this issue first arose...

DooplissForce: Did Twitch need to change up things? Was there some sort of issue or problem that sparked this? If not, why then did Twitch change stuff?

Shear: We did need to change things. This is laying groundwork for some work in the future you guys are REALLY going to like. We've been intending to do this for some time, but it took us a while to identify and select a content identification partner and get the system up and reliable.

Twitch users also pointed out the lack of communication in the lead up to these changes...

twitchThehoods: Shouldn't you have built an appeals process before implementing a system with these results?

Shear: Probably, but no v1 is perfect.

SirSnugglybear: Why was no advanced notice given before these policy changes were implemented?

Shear: Simply put: we screwed up and should have announced it ahead of time. Sorry.

So, why mute audio over copyright issues when the video is still allowed?

Aniviasrevenge: Are you taking the stance that streaming audio isn't fair use? If you believe it is not, what is your rationale for believing streaming video is fair use?

Shear: Game companies have the public stance (and private stance directly with Twitch) that they allow anyone to stream their games. This isn't a fair use argument, it's a generally available license that you're taking advantage of.

Broadcasting unlicensed music in the background is not fair use either, and there is no generally available license. Therefore this is not something that we want our broadcasters to accept liability for (nor do we want to accept liability for it either).

They're completely different cases, and the logic is different in each.

People of Reddit/Twitch also kept a positive attitude, finding out how to make the best of this situation and what the future of Twitch may hold...

J4nG: Is there a process a streamer can go through if they believe that their videos have been unfairly flagged and muted?

Shear: For now, please email feedback@twitch.tv if you think there's a problem. We're working on building an appeals system since that's obviously important. And no, I can't comment, it says so right in my original post.

Oosband: What are the future plans for the audio technology you're using? Will it expand to live content? and will we see any changes to the current VOD system?

Shear: Future plans: increase the scan resolution so that we don't have to flag 30 minute chunks at a time, identify why things have been flagged, institute an appeals system, make sure there isn't any original game music on the flagging list.

We have no plans at all for it to expand to live content.

Many more questions were answered by Shear which you can check out on the Reddit thread. One thing is obvious though: the audio copyright system is here to stay. In theory, its bugs, such as muting streams who have by-passed copyright laws like the DotA 2 International 4 stream and even one of Twitch's official videos, should be resolved in the future.

Lastly, when asked by cosmowright why people should continue streaming through Twitch instead of finding another streaming platform they answered with:

Because we care about you and your viewers, and we want every broadcaster on Twitch to be protected from potential liability. No matter how remote you might feel the issue is, we aren't willing to run the risk someone's life gets ruined over this.

-Shear

Published Aug. 8th 2014

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