Amazon-owned live streaming platform Twitch recently came under fire for a perceived failure to penalize use of copyrighted music without licensure by users who have taken to the platform as an alternative for live DJ and music performances.
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, many musicians and DJs have chosen Twitch as an alternative to live shows – which have all but disappeared amid worldwide restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic. With that mass migration from live to live stream came a slew of copyright and licensing issues, mainly brought on by the unrestricted use of major label-owned and copyrighted music.
As a response, Twitch partnered with non-major labels like Anjunabeats and Monstercat to launch Soundtrack, an initiative that would license said labels’ works for clearance during streaming. Major labels, however, were not included, and a lot of music being played by Twitch users in music streams remained unlicensed.
The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and other industry groups came together to write an open letter, claiming that “Twitch appears to do nothing in response to the thousands of notices of music infringement that it has received nor does it currently even acknowledge that it received them, as it has done in the past.”
“Neither synch nor mechanical licenses are necessary for its Soundtrack tool,” the letter continued. “We are also deeply disappointed that Twitch continues to allow and enable its streamers to use our respective members’ music without authorization, in violation of Twitch’s music guidelines.”
Twitch denied these claims, as well as the RIAA’s claims that the platform had failed to secure adequate licensure that extends to publishers.
“We’re also proud of the work we are doing around recorded music on Twitch through Soundtrack,” reads a statement from the streaming platform. “Soundtrack is a fully licensed service. Twitch has entered into agreements with rights holders for the recordings and compositions included in the service. Soundtrack is not only a fully-licensed way for streamers to play great music in their live streams but also an important discovery tool for independent artists and labels.”
As the struggle continues between the RIAA and Twitch, DJs and performers continue to favor the streaming platform for use during the pandemic.
Variety has outlined the full open letter from the RIAA and industry associates, as well as Twitch’s response in this article.