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Twitch Changes Policies: Users Less Than Thrilled

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Much to the disappointment and chagrin of many Twitch.tv users, the popular streaming website changed many policies around its VODs (videos on demand). The VODs include past broadcasts and their highlights form many popular streamers.

On August 6, many streamers signed in to find their VODs muted for copyright violations, usually due to the background music, which was often used without permission from the original artists or producers. Twitch rolled in the ContentID system that scans videos in 30-minute blocks. If a copyright infringement is detected in those 30-minutes, that whole block is muted. Users can appeal if they believe they have been wrongly flagged.

The ContentID system is by no means perfect. In fact, the system even muted one of Twitch’s own videos. It also muted a video released by Valve at the DoTA 2 Internationals. This issue there, apparently was that crowd noise was misidentified as crowd noise from a live album. Other users are experiencing issues where original in-game music is being flagged, which according to Twitch’s CEO in his AMA, this should not be happening.

Rolling out the ContentID system wasn’t the only change streamers were unhappy with: VODs will now be broken down into 2-hour chunks: a policy that especially angers many speedrunners who depend upon unbroken video to prove and verify their speedruns. Videos will not be able to be stored indefinitely, either. Past broadcasts can only be saved for a max of 14 days for regular users, and 60 days for partners and Turbo subscribers.

Understanding that these new policies would, of course, raise controversy, Twitch’s CEO, Emmett Shear took to Reddit for an AMA to try and address some of the concerns. Users were, of course, incredibly skeptical of the responses, and often his replies were downvoted to the point that his replies were hidden behind warnings.

Questions included “Why should I keep streaming on Twitch as opposed to a different site?” (Shear’s Answer), “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’s Answer) and “Why can’t you employ a system similar to YouTube’s? Instead of muting when there’s a content ID match, can’t you keep the audio audible and share the ad revenue with the matched party?” (Shear’s Answer).

There were many more questions, and it’s absolutely worth reading through the AMA to see many of the questions and how Shear answered.

Twitch is at a strange turning point where it needs to address that murky legal ground that is streaming games while at the same time protecting itself form liability. Yes, many streamers do use copyrighted music in the background, however many like Thejustinflynn, use music they either own or have permission to use, and as of yet there’s no formal or expedited appeal process.

With these new policies in place, many streamers are considering moving over to Hitbox.tv or other services, however let’s be honest: those sites don’t yet offer the same value or quality as Twitch. Twitch.tv generally has the better chat, larger userbase, and better bot support. These are mostly because the service has been around longer, of course, but those facts still stand.

The new ContentID system comes on the heels of many rumors of Google purchasing Twitch for $1 billion. The deal has not been announced, so all reports are pure speculation, however the new policies put in place are clear indications to many gamers and users that the rumors are likely true.

We will see if Twitch changes policies again in the future regarding ContentID on live videos (a feature they vehemently deny is in the works,) but for now many remain skeptical.

About Stephen Crane

Stephen was hooked by the NES at a very young age and never looked back. He games on a daily basis and is currently trying to climb his way up the ranked ladder on League of Legends! Outside of the video game world he actually likes running and owns a rapidly growing collection of toed shoes. Stephen Crane is the owner of Armed Gamer.

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