The Copyright Hitch When YouTube Buys Twitch

/ Jul 25, 2014

twitchtube

One thing is for sure – don’t piss off gamers, which is why the latest reports that YouTube has purchased Twitch for $1B could cause some big problems on the copyright front, and thus, imminent backlash from the gaming community.

YouTube has historically aimed to prevent copyright infringement for musicians and artists for years, through its ContentID system. The video platform also stirred a storm of fury amongst gamers and creators earlier this year for DMCA-related takedowns of music set against gameplay videos.

And while Twitch does have a DMCA clause on its site, the platform does not currently have an automated system for tracking these uploads in a sophisticated way. It’s mostly left to the users in the community to flag content and report violations, which then get sent to a shell organization that fields the inquiries and disputes.

Here’s one gamer talking about he abandoned YouTube simply because it was easier to get away with Copyright violations on Twitch:

This is a sentiment that has rumbled across the internet from angry Twitch users when the news of an impending acquisition first surfaced. As various Reddit users noted:

–]SparkyPantsMcGee

No, this is terrible. A perfectly good streaming site is going to be bloated with all of Google’s crap. I can’t wait for all the copyright claims and shitty Google+ baggage

And…

[–]undistant

I mean wasn’t this day coming? It is the laws that suck. Sometime, Twitch would have started enforcing the copyright laws. I guess be thankful that Twitch was turning the blind eye the whole time.

Copyright issues pop up all the time over on YouTube, lawsuits can sometimes follow, and despite ContentID’s semi-functional system for flagging content, it’s a system that frustrates users. And they leave. Leave to a platform that is much more liberal.

So why hasn’t Twitch had to clean up its Copyright act?

Well, the platform is inherently built for live streaming and can’t necessarily control what music gamers play during the stream. And once the content is saved and uploaded to Twitch, it would take hours for rights holders to scour through the massive volume of content being uploaded. There are afterall over 600,000 broadcasters sharing their games live.

Also, its safe to say that Twitch, in comparison to YouTube, is a relatively small site, with 45 Million monthly visitors, so it’s very possible that rights holders haven’t bothered them given the difficulty of finding content and the fact it’s not as ubiquitous as YouTube.

…which leads me to the backlash.

Do a quick search on reddit or any gamer communities and there’s already a flurry of panicked gamers threatening to leave Twitch if this acquisition goes through, if Google makes any major changes to Twitch, and on account of the dissatisfaction with both Google+ integration and Copyright flagging.

One billion dollars is a hefty number to pay for a community  and a platform that may see a mass exodus for other video game streaming sites like Hitbox or Gamewisp, perhaps even Dailymotion which has a strong esports community as well.

While it’s very likely the deal will go through, as evidenced by the fact that Twitch has already started integrating YouTube functionality, it will be interesting to see how the transition unfolds in retaining the community once copyright policing on Twitch is forced to become more stringent.

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