Crisis Communications Lessons of a New Digital Streaming Era

Crisis Communications Lessons of a New Digital Streaming Era

One of the biggest live streaming platforms in the world, Twitch, faced a big issue with its content creators, also known as streamers, last year due to DMCA takedowns. In May of last year, a number of streamers suddenly received takedown requests, asking them to take down, or in other words, essentially remove, any content that features copyrighted music.

A few months later, in October, there was another sweeping wave of copyright notices on the platform, and that’s one Amazon’s subsidiary finally took a big action in deleting a lot of the offending content. 

When it first happened, the platform offered its creators a limited set of tools so that they would be able to manage their content in response to the DMCA notices and takedowns, however, that only made the problem bigger.

When both its creators, and its audience started complaining online, the company released a public apology on how it handled the situation, clarifying that Twitch ended up receiving a much higher number of takedown requests than previously anticipated. The platform also stated that it would be releasing better tools that streamers could use to manage any of their old content, and finally followed through on that promise a few months later.

The main reason for these takedown notices is because music publishers and record labels are asking the streaming platform two either not use copyrighted songs in any recorded streams, or pay the publishers or record labels for using that copyrighted content. The tools that were released for creators to be able to manage their old recorded streams, also known as VODs, weren’t that helpful for the content creators, because people that have spent many years live streaming on the platform, had a difficult time navigating between the thousands of videos they had made.

Another problem was the fact that even if these streamers were able to navigate the content, the takedown notifications didn’t clarify which songs appeared in which videos.

Next, a few weeks ago, Twitch ended up receiving a number of brand new takedown notifications from record labels and music publishers and immediately notified its content creators via email. 

Once again, this announcement worried the streamers who were greatly affected by the number of takedowns the platform received in the last year. This announcement is especially worrying because according to the platform’s policies, any user can receive up to three copyright strikes on their account before they are permanently banned from the platform. With this advance notice, it seems like the platform is trying to get ahead of the sudden number of copyright strikes and give its streamers some time to take down the potentially flagged VODs.

Aside from Twitch itself trying to navigate this difficult situation, a number of record labels have also stepped in to help the platform and its streamers by creating copyright-free music that people could use during live streams.

The announcement from Twitch and the collaboration from a number of record labels are all positive steps in improving the platform’s damaged reputation. Additionally, the platform released a statement apologizing for not having well-developed and sophisticated tools before this issue was also a step in the right direction, especially because it was followed through shortly afterward.