Music licensing is tricky, and there’s a TON of misinformation out there. We’re here to dispel 5 of the most common myths we see all the time at StreamerSquare.
This is not intended to be legal advice, rather it’s information to help you protect your content. Always consult an attorney for legal advice!
#1 – “I got a DMCA because Twitch muted part of my VoD”
Your VoD getting muted is not a DMCA take down or strike.
Twitch has an automated program called Audible Magic that scans VoDs and listens for potential copyright infringing material. When it detects something, it checks it against a list of permitted or denied material populated by various different rights holders.
If the audio isn’t on the permitted list, it mutes that portion. It does this to protect you from a possible take down notice. The system is far from perfect, but it is intended to help.
There are no 3 strikes or ban policies associated with portions of your VoDs getting muted.
# 2 – “It’s illegal for Twitch to delete our videos!”
This is simply not true. Twitch is a private organization who retains the rights to remove any content for any reason. As stated in their ToS:
“Twitch reserves the right to remove, screen, or edit any User Content posted or stored on the Twitch Services at any time and without notice,…”
Your content is not legally protected for availability or personal ownership and may be removed without cause, notification, or warning.
#3 – “I know the musician. They said it’s OK for me to use it, so I’m not worried.”
In a perfect world, you’d think a musician SHOULD be able to give you permission. But this isn’t a perfect world.
Only self published recording artists can say “It’s OK to use my music wherever you want, it’s cool!” without possible DMCA problems. The chances an artist is entirely self published with no outside rights holders is slim to none.
Once a publisher, record label or distribution house gets their hands on it, they own the “permissions” to a portion of that song.
Once that happens, the only way you can safely use that music is to obtain a Synchronization License. (or Sync License for short) Without it, not even the recording artist can stream it on Twitch.
You can learn more about how licensing works in our Understanding Music Licensing For Streamers article!
#4 – “Twitch can’t DMCA me for alerts or music in video games”
Well, first off, Twitch isn’t the one who DMCA’s you. The rights holders to the music are the ones who cause that to happen. Twitch just responds to their complaint by taking your clips and VoDs down.
You absolutely can have your videos taken down, have a copyright strike issued against your channel, and potentially get your channel banned for music that plays inside video games!
This isn’t likely to happen for OST music composed for and existing solely within the game itself. But video games that license music from other artists (like Grand Theft Auto) are incredibly prone to take downs and copyright strikes.
Your alerts are no different. If the alerts you create contain snippets of copyrighted material (including visual material), they are potentially infringing and subject to a take down notice from the owners of said material.
#5 – “If I use less than (10, 20, 30.. etc) seconds of the song, it’s fair use!”
There’s a couple problems with this argument…
First off, fair use isn’t a defense against a DMCA take down or copyright strike against your channel. It’s only a defense after you’ve been sued for copyright infringement. When you’ve hired a lawyer, and are appearing in a courtroom against the legal representation of the rights holders.
All at your personal expense.
While there are instances where the argument of fair use might be valid, both Twitch and the copyright holders won’t respond or take interest in an email that says; “Hey! This is fair use because… “
Unless you’re standing before a judge, simply claiming fair use is no more legally potent than stepping outside your front door and loudly saying “I declare Bankruptcy!” to your rose bushes and thinking your bills will stop piling up.
Secondly, there’s no “safe” amount of time where a portion of copyrighted music is considered free to use. It just doesn’t work that way.
In March of 2020, it was ruled that 8 notes was enough for legal action. While that decision has since been reversed, it was not the length of the used portion that caused the reversal. It was because it was not a unique enough arraignment of notes. You can read about it here:
Music licensing is complicated. Even when your fair use reasoning is valid, there are other circumstances that may still prevent you from using the music you want without obtaining permission.
In short, there IS NO SAFE USE of unlicensed music on your streams. It all carries the risk of being muted or deleted.
USE A MUSIC SERVICE!
The only way to safely stream music is to use a service that is specifically designed for streaming. While we recommend an established service like Pretzel Rocks, you can find a comprehensive list in our music service guide by clicking here.