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Fortnite’s Nexus War event could expose Twitch streamers to DMCA problems

Enlarge / Luckily you can’t hear this image—it might result in a DMCA strike if you could.

Epic Games

Epic Games and Twitch are warning streamers who broadcast during Fortnite‘s season-ending Marvel-crossover “Nexus War” event last night that they may need to delete their VOD clips to avoid the risk of DMCA copyright strikes.

The event, which saw players take on the world-eating Galactus in a ten-minute battle, featured AC/DC’s Demon Fire as a licensed background song during a portion set in the game’s iconic Battle Bus. Thus, shortly before the event started, the official Fortnite Status Twitter account warned Twitch streamers that “we cannot prevent your VOD/clip content from getting flagged by the platform’s copyright detection systems. The general recommendation is to either mute your VoDs or turn off VODs/clips entirely to protect yourselves against any kind of claims or strikes as best as possible.”

Shortly after the event, Twitch Support tweeted out a similar warning, telling users who streamed unmuted sound from the game that they may “want to be cautious about DMCA risk from the music in that event” and “consider exporting/downloading and then deleting any related VODs or Clips.”

A bit more than 130,000 Twitch channels were streaming Fortnite at its peak Tuesday night, reaching nearly 1.6 million viewers, according to stats gathered by TwitchTracker. That’s way up from peak streaming between 10,000 and 15,000 accounts and peak viewership between 200,000 and 300,000 throughout November.

A continuing problem

The warnings over the Fortnite event music come weeks after many Twitch users were hit by vague warnings from Twitch that some of their archived VODs would be deleted in a matter of days thanks to DMCA takedown notifications. Rather than specifying which content would be deleted—and giving those streamers their rightful opportunity to file a counter-claim—Twitch unhelpfully recommended that affected users “review your Clips, VODs, and any other content in your Creator Dashboard and delete anything that includes unlicensed copyrighted material. If you are unsure about the contents of your archive, you can delete all of it.”

The Fortnite Nexus War event. The licensed music can be heard around the 6:30 mark.

Last month, Twitch publicly apologized for how it handled that copyright crackdown and for the lack of granular tools available for streamers to manage potentially infringing music content. But the service also warned that users should simply “[not] play recorded music in your stream unless you own all rights in the music, or you have the permission of the necessary rights holder(s). Doing this is the best protection for your streams going forward.”

The Fortnite Status account specifically called out Twitch for a “lack of solutions similar to Lickd,” a reference to the service that lets YouTubers quickly and easily purchase music licenses for their videos. Twitch recently introduced SoundTrack, a library of rights-cleared music that streamers can add to their videos as background music.

But that service doesn’t help with licensed music that might appear in the streamed games themselves, as in the case of this Fortnite event. Those games are often subject to their own EULAs that could place additional restrictions on streaming rights as well.

Twitch says it is “actively speaking with the major record labels about potential approaches to additional licenses that would be appropriate for the Twitch service,” but that those talks are complicated by the fact that “the vast majority of our creators don’t have recorded music as a part of their streams, and the revenue implications to creators of such a deal are substantial.”





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