In December, YouTube began to crack down on the inclusion of copyrighted audio in published videos. It incited extensive backlash against the site, but YouTube stood by its policies. Now, it looks like another website is following in YouTube's footsteps: Twitch, the popular livestreaming site, implemented a censoring system today that automatically scans and mutes sections of archived videos that have copyrighted audio.
Using a program called Audible Magic, Twitch can discover music in archived videos that belongs to clients of the program and instantly mute parts of the video. In 30-minute sections, the audio is removed and the video is rendered silent. And this doesn't just apply to users purposefully playing music over streams, either: in-game and ambient music is being censored, as well.
In a post on Twitch's blog, general counsel Elizabeth Baker explained that this was not a result of lawsuits or external pressure. It was, instead, a decision made to be friendlier toward copyright owners. "Starting today, Twitch will be implementing technology intended to help broadcasters avoid the storage of videos containing unauthorized third-party audio," she wrote. "We respect the rights of copyright owners, and are voluntarily undertaking this effort to help protect both our broadcasters and copyright owners." At the moment, this system only applies to Twitch's videos on demand and not livestreams.
Expectedly, the Twitch community isn't responding well to this new system of censoring audio. Noted speedrunner Cosmo Wright, for example, even said on Twitter that he was thinking about switching streaming services in protest.
And some unintended videos have been censored, as well. One of Twitch's official broadcasts had a long section of its audio muted. You can check out Twitch's video, with the muted section, below.
Additionally, Danny Baranowsky, composer of the music in Crypt of the Necrodancer, didn't even want to enforce his copyright, and he expressed his frustration on Twitter. "Nobody but me has the authority to ask for a takedown of Necrodancer music on Twitch," he said. "If you're getting takedowns please let me know!"
Hitbox, a competitor to Twitch, also tweeted that it was receiving an influx of new users as a result of Twitch's policy change. In fact, so many new users registered on the site that it crashed, according to the site's support account on Twitter.
This follows in the wake of this morning's changes to the way archived videos are stored. According to the Twitch blog, Instead of allowing users to store archived streams indefinitely, Twitch now saves everyone's streams for fourteen days, but then deletes them after that. However, It has released a new video manager to allow users to create "highlights" of up to two hours which are saved forever. It has also made exporting these highlights to YouTube easier.
Recently, rumors reemerged that the site had been acquired by YouTube. Neither YouTube parent company Google nor Twitch have commented on the rumors, but if YouTube is indeed buying Twitch, it would make sense why the sites have similar copyright-protection systems.
If you stream to Twitch, have your videos been affected? Let us know in the comments.