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2020 has been a year of dramatic changes to the way the DJ community works, and one of the big trends has been a shift towards a lot of livestreaming of sets. There are various platforms, but the one which has emerged as the most popular is Twitch.

However, some DJs have warned for a while that its an imperfect solution, and a recent blog from Twitch seems to back that up.

If you stream on there, or are considering doing so, I recommend you go and read the whole thing – but for those of you too lazy to do so, here’s the key points, with my interpretation of them!

* They start off explaining exactly what the DMCA is (The Digital Millennium Copyright Act), and why they issue takedowns and bans against users who use copyrighted content without permission

* In May this year, the number of DMCA notifications jumped from a few dozen per year to thousands per week, mainly from major record labels, and they don’t expect this to slow down. They say

* They analysed the notifications. 99% were for tracks that streamers were using in the background of their streams (rather than being the focus of attention). They say

* They take responsibility for a warning email some of you may have received, which was not very comprehensive, leading to a lot of confusion and uncertainty amongst Twitch users. They apologise for not having better tools for creators on Twitch to manage their libraries of content.

* Probably most importantly, the next section talks about¬†how to avoid DMCA notifications. From a DJ perspective, its not exactly ideal…

* They go on to talk about the new tools they are working on to give creators more control over the recorded content on channels, to make it easier for creators to control what audio shows up in recordings. They mention Soundtrack – rights-cleared music for use in Twitch. And third, they mention an improved mechanism for challenging copyright claims.

* The next bit is probably the most directly relevant for DJs

* Then they go on to advise people to learn more about copyright and how it might impact your channel.

Where does that leave DJs?

When a DJ uses Twitch, they are breaking a very clear rule on the site terms & conditions.

It is interesting that they don’t directly address the topic of DJ sets here, but then it represents a tiny fraction of their total streamers. The sense that I get from this latest update is that they are setting out their stall and warning people “this is the way it is, and there’s no guarantee we get to a point where use of uncleared music is “legal” per se”.

This has been known for some time, but the way Twitch works is so rewarding for regular DJ streamers, with raids, the community building and so on, that most are happy to take their chances, and accept that old videos will be most likely be muted. After all, Facebook and Instagram have exactly the same problem, plus also regularly cut people off mid-stream (which so far Twitch doesn’t do). Mixcloud is the only existing platform I am aware of that is fully licensed, but has nothing like Twitch’s user base or level of functionality.

So ultimately, this update amounts to “we’re helping improve the tools for you to manage your libraries to avoid strikes for old content, but this is the deal going forward”.

Can they make a deal? Sure – they could. They are backed by Amazon, who have enough money and clout to make anything happen if they want to.

Do they want to make a deal? I’m not so sure. It might be expensive and have ramifications for the vast majority of their user base, just to cater for a tiny percentage. They may see it as unnecessary hassle and separate from their core mission.

As with these things, only time will tell – for now, my personal advice would be to proceed with eyes open, and don’t put all your eggs in one basket, because if Twitch decide to take that basket away…

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