Twitch Apologizes for Mishandling Copyright Crackdowns After Months of Controversy
- Twitch has been contacting hundreds of users with copyright infringement notifications since June, but its inconsistent responses have been heavily criticized by streamers.
- Before this massive influx of copyright claims, Twitch had no tool to let streamers mass-delete or even identify clips that contained copyrighted material.
- After complaints, it only implemented a tool that allows streamers to mass delete all of their old clips.
- Now, Twitch is apologizing for its lack of transparency and for not putting more nuanced tools in place that allow streamers to manage their clip archives.
Twitch Begins DMCA Strikes
Twitch apologized to its streamers on Wednesday after a months-long controversy involving its inconsistent response to copyright crackdowns on the platform.
“Creators, we hear you,” the company said in a blogpost. “Your frustration and confusion with recent music-related copyright issues is completely justified. Things can — and should — be better for creators than they have been recently.”
The situation first began in early June when several popular Twitch streamers revealed that they had received multiple copyright strikes all at once. For those streamers, it was an unexpected and fear-inducing warning, as under normal rules, three infractions would result in their account being permanently deleted by Twitch.
Many found it odd that some of the strikes were coming from clips that were years old — a fact that made it easier for long-time streamers to be hit multiple times.
Twitch streamer Leslie Fu, who goes by Fuslie and has over 500,000 followers on Twitch, received two strikes during that June crackdown: one for playing DNCE’S “Cake by the Ocean” and another for Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings.” After speaking with Twitch staff, she said they recommended that she delete all of her clips.
“On top of it being near impossible for me to delete >100,000 clips,” she said, “the creator dashboard isn’t loading any of my old clips. How am I supposed to protect myself here?”
“I’m willing to do anything to keep my channel, even if it means deleting all my clips and memories from the past years. I feel so helpless right now. I’ve built this channel up for 5 years and to potentially lose it all so fast to something like this would be devastating.”
As far as what appeared to be happening, it seemed like music companies were sending Twitch takedown notices related to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act — notices that Twitch had no choice but to respond to unless it wanted to be sued.
Like Fuslie pointed out, Twitch’s response on how to fully correct the situation wasn’t exactly transparent. Many others also asked why Twitch couldn’t just mute the parts of their clips that contained copyrighted music.
As the situation unfolded, Twitch Support tweeted that it had, in fact, received a sudden influx of DMCA takedown requests, most related to clips from 2017 to 2019.
Similar to how Fuslie characterized her interaction with Twitch staff, the support account advised streamers to remove any clips they believed might violate copyright law.
“We know many of you have large archives, and we’re working to make this easier,” the account said.
A few days later, Twitch Support said the company would begin using a program that could identify clips that might contain copyrighted music. It noted that those clips would then be deleted without penalty to streamers.
At the same time, Twitch said it was working on implementing a tool that would help streamers to be able to more easily delete all their clips at once.
October Wave of DMCA Takedowns
In October, streamers faced another wave of DMCA takedown notices, but this time, they received a much different warning. In a blanket email, Twitch told affected streamers that it had identified and deleted all flagged copyrighted clips, without issuing any strikes.
“We recognize that by deleting this content, we are not giving you the option to file a counter-notification or seek a retraction from the rights holder,” the email read. “In consideration of this, we have processed these notifications and are issuing you a one-time warning to give you the chance to learn about copyright law and the tools available to manage the content on your channel.”
Unlike earlier notices, these didn’t contain any information about what copyrighted work had been violated, who the claimant was, or how to contact them.
Jessica Blevins, FaZe Mongraal, and LIRIK were among a plethora of notable streamers who received this notice. Like LIRIK, many other popular streamers were confused by the warning and did not understand what aspect of their content had violated copyright law.
With this notice, Twitch also told streamers that they had until Oct. 23 to find and delete any possible copyrighted material. After that, it would “resume the normal processing of DMCA takedowns.”
Because of that warning, many streamers began purging clips from their channel entirely, even if they hadn’t received this email. That included Pokimane, who said she deleted more than six years of clips and memories.
“It is INSANE that @Twitch informs partners they deleted their content – and that there is more content in violation despite having NO identification system to find out what it is,” one streamer, Devin Nash, said. “Their solution to DMCA is for creators to delete their life’s work. This is pure, gross negligence.”
On Nov. 2, Clix — a Fortnite streamer with 2.6 million followers — tweeted that he had received two DMCA strikes.
“One more and i’m banned forever,” he said. “I did everything they told me to legit all my vods and clips.”
The same day, another streamer by the name of SquishyMuffinz reported that he had been banned altogether. While that ban was overturned a couple of hours later, he eventually deleted every single video from his channel out of fear of another ban.
Twitch Apologizes for Mishandling DMCA Takedowns
In its Wednesday apology, Twitch admitted that it should have made that October warning email much “more informative and helpful,” conceding that it had provided “frustratingly little information.”
“You’re rightly upset that the only option we provided was a mass deletion tool for Clips, and that we only gave you three-days notice to use this tool,” the company said. “We could have developed more sophisticated, user-friendly tools awhile ago. That we didn’t is on us. And we could have provided creators with a longer time period to address their VOD and Clip libraries – that was a miss as well.”
“We’re truly sorry for these mistakes, and we’ll do better.”
Before May of this year, Twitch said “streamers received fewer than 50 music-related DMCA notifications each year” on the platform. Since then, it has been receiving “thousands of DMCA notifications each week” from major record labels, something it doesn’t expect to slow down.
“This means two things: 1) if you play recorded music on your stream, you need to stop doing that and 2) if you haven’t already, you should review your historical VODs and Clips that may have music in them and delete any archives that might,” the company went on to say.
Among the next steps Twitch says it’s taking, that includes expanding its technology to be able to detect copyrighted audio, introducing “more granular ways to manage your archive,” and giving streamers the ability to review which clips were hit with DMCA notices to help them more easily file counter-claims.
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (PC Gamer) (IGN)
Schools Across the U.S. Cancel Classes Friday Over Unverified TikTok Threat
Officials in multiple states said they haven’t found any credible threats but are taking additional precautions out of an abundance of safety.
Schools in no fewer than 10 states either canceled classes or increased their police presence on Friday after a series of TikToks warned of imminent shooting and bombs threats.
Despite that, officials said they found little evidence to suggest the threats are credible. It’s possible no real threat was actually ever made as it’s unclear if the supposed threats originated on TikTok, another social media platform, or elsewhere.
“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” TikTok’s Communications team tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Still, given the uptick of school shootings in the U.S. in recent years, many school districts across the country decided to respond to the rumors. According to The Verge, some districts in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas shut down Friday.
“Based on law enforcement interviews, Little Falls Community Schools was specifically identified in a TikTok post related to this threat,” one school district in Minnesota said in a letter Thursday. “In conversations with local law enforcement, the origins of this threat remain unknown. Therefore, school throughout the district is canceled tomorrow, Friday, December 17.”
In Gilroy, California, one high school that closed its doors Friday said it would reschedule final exams that were expected to take place the same day to January.
According to the Associated Press, several other districts in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania stationed more police officers at their schools Friday.
Viral Misinformation or Legitimate Warnings?
As The Verge notes, “The reports of threats on TikTok may be self-perpetuating.”
For example, many of the videos online may have been created in response to initial warnings as more people hopped onto the trend. Amid school cancellations, videos have continued to sprout up — many awash with both rumors and factual information.
“I’m scared off my ass, what do I do???” one TikTok user said in a now-deleted video, according to People.
“The post is vague and not directed at a specific school, and is circulating around school districts across the country,” Chicago Public Schools said in a letter, though it did not identify any specific post. “Please do not re-share any suspicious or concerning posts on social media.”
According to Dr. Amy Klinger, the director of programs for the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network, “This is not 2021 phenomenon.”
Instead, she told The Today Show that her network has been tracking school shooting threats since 2013, and she noted that in recent years, they’ve become more prominent on social media.
“It’s not just somebody in a classroom of 15 people hearing someone make a threat,” she said. “It’s 15,000 people on social media, because it gets passed around and it becomes larger and larger and larger.”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Associated Press) (People)
Jake Paul Says He “Can’t Get Cancelled” as a Boxer
The controversial YouTuber opened up about what it has been like to go from online fame to professional boxing.
The New Yorker Profiles Jake Paul
YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul talked about his career switch, reputation, and cancel culture in a profile published Monday in The New Yorker.
While Paul rose to fame as the Internet’s troublemaker, he now spends most of his time in the ring. He told the outlet that one difference between YouTube and boxing is that his often controversial reputation lends better to his new career.
“One thing that is great about being a fighter is, like, you can’t get cancelled,” Paul said. The profile noted that the sport often rewards and even encourages some degree of bad behavior.
“I’m not a saint,” Paul later continued. “I’m also not a bad guy, but I can very easily play the role.”
Paul also said the other difference between his time online and his time in boxing is the level of work. While he says he trains hard, he confessed that there was something more challenging about making regular YouTube content.
“Being an influencer was almost harder than being a boxer,” he told The New Yorker. “You wake up in the morning and you’re, like, Damn, I have to create fifteen minutes of amazing content, and I have twelve hours of sunlight.”
Jake Paul Vs. Tommy Fury
The New Yorker profile came just after it was announced over the weekend Paul will be fighting boxer Tommy Fury in an 8-round cruiserweight fight on Showtime in December.
“It’s time to kiss ur last name and ur family’s boxing legacy goodbye,” Paul tweeted. “DEC 18th I’m changing this wankers name to Tommy Fumbles and celebrating with Tom Brady.”
Both Paul and Fury are undefeated, according to ESPN. Like Paul, Fury has found fame outside of the sport. He has become a reality TV star in the U.K. after appearing on the hit show “Love Island.”
See what others are saying: (The New Yorker) (Dexerto) (ESPN)
Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos
The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.
Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws.
For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform.
The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.
It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end.
The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions.
First Twitch Hack
Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.
That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already.