My Open Letter to Twitch Regarding VoDs

I recently authored an email to Twitch’s feedback account.  This email is quoted below.  I have not received a response to it as of the time of this post but I wanted to share what I wrote with everyone.

Oh Twitch –

I have to say that I am a little bit on edge right now.  That said, I am going to try my best to make this bit of feedback as productive as possible.

Your roll out of the 3rd Party Content ID system has been a disaster in my opinion.

Since I began casting, I have been a HUGE advocate of compliance with DMCA and with copyright.  As a photographer in my past life, I have been effected by copyright violation on more than one occasion.  So, as such, I completely understand, and agree with, the proper respect of an artist’s rights to control their work.  I started out my time streaming on Twitch playing no music at all.  Then, the day came, when I was able to find music published under Creative Commons license to play during my broadcast.  As time went on, I was able to secure the permission of several artists to use their awesome catalogs of works during my stream.  Amazing artists like Approaching Nirvana, Orician, Savant and Section Z Records, Zircon, Big Giant Circles, and Monstercat.  I have grown my music library using exclusively these artists and removed the Creative Commons licensed works to highlight their amazing work.

I have gained permission from these artists and labels either through direct contact or through blanket permission given by the artists and labels to Twitch streamers and YouTube content creators.  I have gone to great lengths to ensure I comply with the requests and requirements that they have set forth in their permission and licensing to use their content during my broadcast.  Between always showing what song and artists is currently playing to providing contact information and routes to purchase the music, I have made sure that these artists get the credit that they deserve and have requested.

I have never had a problem with the enforcement of DMCA.  As a matter of fact, it has always been like nails on a chalkboard when I hear a streamer, large or small, playing music that there is no way they have received permission to play.  I support the enforcement of DMCA all day long and twice on Sunday.

Enter Twitch.  On August 6th, when the new relationship between Twitch and Audible Magic was announced, I was initially impressed that Twitch had started down the road to ensuring enforcement of the use of 3rd Party content.  I was hopeful that Twitch would be able to weed out those that were playing music that they clearly had no permission to play during their streams.  Then I was able to see the system in action.  It was, and remains, a mess.

The initial roll out of these new changes seems to have been very hasty and less than thought through.

Eliminating 30 minutes of a VoD because just a few seconds of 3rd Party Content was detected is a perfect example of this.  If the system that Audible Magic uses can identify the start of a piece of 3rd Party Content, it should certainly be able to identify the end of it.  There is no reason in the world that 30 minutes of a VoD should be muted based on the presence of a piece of 3rd Party Content that has “matched.”

That aside, when content is flagged, not only does the streamer not even receive notification that content has been flagged (we have to go watch our VoDs to find out or hear from our viewers), there is no information that says why the content was flagged in the first place.  No identification of the content that triggered the flag, nothing.

This leads to the biggest problem of the whole system; the appeals process.  I would more likely say, the absence of an appeals process.

As would be expected, when I discovered that several of my highlights and past broadcasts had been flagged and muted, I began the process by clicking on the “appeal” button above my video player.  Problem number 1, this just attempts to create a new email to send.  An email that I have no clue what to write…no clue what to say because I don’t even know what content was flagged other than a bunch of something in a 30 minute block.  Is there a buffer ahead of the flagged content?  Is it the content that is playing when the muting starts?  I have no clue.  So, I just write (in ever one of the emails) something to the effect of “I have permission and here is my proof.  I provide screenshots and links to documents and websites that provide license and permission to use the content.  Out of the 5 or 6 emails of this kind that I have sent, I have received responses from 2 that simply say we are going to look into it.

Fast forward to today.  I received another response today regarding one of the 2 cases that I had already received the “working on it” emails for previously.  It said that I needed to fill out a form and provided a link to it.  I followed the link and was greeted with a nice, threatening form that basically is designed to provide information to initiate a law suite against me.  Nowhere does it give a place for proof of license or permission.  No where does it give space to do anything but agree to the jurisdiction of the US court system (or other foreign court) and wants to provide me information such as name, address, telephone number et cetera.  All without any kind of assurance of privacy or any kind of security such as SSL.

In addition, this form requires that you provide a list of the flagged content that was removed.  Again, how can I even complete this form when there has never been any kind of notification of what the supposed 3rd Party Content was?  Just completely makes no sense.

So, long story short (well not really), I am very upset with the way that Twitch has handled this entire situation.  It seems to me that someone at Twitch came up with this idea that Twitch needed to be in compliance and just quickly threw something together without doing any type of due diligence or preparation.  For crying out loud, if you are going to institute a new system like this, you should have your OWN appeals process in place and ready to go before you roll things out.  Before you launch.  Not putting up a button the next day with a link to an email address!

At this point, it really seems to me that Twitch no longer cares about it’s broadcasters or viewers.  Twitch seems to have simply moved into the realm of “we will do the minimum to get by and cover our asses” awaiting a hopeful buyout by someone…It is very sad.

So, in closing, I would ask this.  Can you please put into place a system that notifies streamers when their content is flagged and what the content is that triggered the flag?  Can you please institute a PROPER system that allows for a streamlined appeals process that helps those of us that are doing things “by the book” to get through it without the overly threatening tone?  Can you please show the Twitch community that you actually care about us and fix this thing?  I realize that I am a VERY small streamer, and I don’t have much of a voice (if any) with you but I beg you…please




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