After a lot of discussion and confusion over the ongoing situation in regards to Twitch streaming and copyrighted music, the platform has finally issued a statement on Wednesday.
Twitch has acknowledged that they've made mistakes, explained the roots of this whole problem, and outlined the roadmap of their next steps in order for things to function better in the future for both streamers and record labels.
But the problem will not disappear overnight, especially when there are several questionable topics that only further confuse the platform's content creators.
One particular issue is especially problematic and it's about streaming games with licensed music.
When asked about this topic, Twitch simply "advised" streamers to play games without the game's music, something that's far from ideal, especially when so many games have licensed music, and in many of them, music is a core part of the experience.
👋 Hey there, thanks for reaching out. We recommend reading through any game's EULA, and utilizing any option to turn music off if the game includes that option, or mute the game audio.— Twitch Support (@TwitchSupport) November 11, 2020
In addition to telling streamers to play games without music, Twitch Support told streamers to check an end-user license agreement (EULA), in order to find out if it allows for in-game music to be broadcasted on a live stream.
Streamers' reactions were almost unanimously negative, with many feeling that Twitch should be the one dealing with legal issues like this, especially with things so fundamental for streaming like the in-game music.
1) That's an awful solution that implies "It's the creator's problem, not ours."— Madame Scoville 🌶️ (@SaiMorningstar) November 12, 2020
Most streamers don't have extensive histories in copyright law, that's why the Twitch's legal/economic/professional relationships is your responsibility. You're equipped for it, creators aren't.
Outrage and disbelief among streamers were to be expected and while many understand how copyrighted music works, they still think that the answer Twitch gave to content creators is simply not the right approach and that Twitch needs try to find a better solution.
Content creators more familiar with the matter are proposing that Twitch should react proactively in this case and find some kind of legal solution that would allow for streamers to play games with the music on, but nobody is sure how that should function.
Developer Wes Keltner, known for his work on a popular co-op horror game Friday the 13th, posted a video where he explains why are things like this happening, and how in-game music works from a legal perspective.
He explains the differences between original music created by a studio for a game and licenced music.
It basically comes down to if the studio owns the music used in a game, or if they only bought the licence to use someone's else work in their game.
The problem is that the licence is only for the in-game use, not for the broadcasting, and when streamers play that game while live streaming, they are basically broadcasting that licenced music whenever it appears in the game, and that's something they don't have rights to do.
Games like Life is Strange are heavily relying on music for players to properly experience the game(Picture: Dontnod Entertainment)
Neither Twitch, nor developers and publishers have rights to broadcast the music they've licenced for use in the game, and so they can't give permission to streamers to do that as well.
The situation is complicated and unfortunate, without a clear solution in sight, but at the end of the day, Twitch will have to do something about it, because playing games without music is something neither streamers nor viewers will enjoy, and that will negatively reflect on Twitch as well.