Under Fire, Twitch CEO Says “We Screwed Up” Policy Announcement
When Twitch announced yesterday that it would start muting copyrighted music in on-demand videos, the Internet freaked out. Today in a Reddit AMA, Twitch CEO Emmett Shear said it could’ve been handled better.
For years, Twitchers have flown under the radar of the RIAA and friends, liberally adding unlicensed music to livestreamed videos of themselves playing videogames, which would later be saved to their accounts’ seemingly unlimited archives. The abrupt one-two punch yesterday — that those archives would be purged of old videos and that portions of the videos with unauthorized audio would be muted — unsurprisingly, has provoked surprise and anger.
On Reddit, popular Twitch broadcaster Cosmo Wright called the copyrighted-music change “absurd.” Music directly from games has been incorrectly flagged by new Twitch partner Audible Magic, Wright added.
“Game music directly from the capture of the game itself is being taken down all over,” Wright said. “Dealing with YouTube’s overzealous policies on gaming content has been one of the most obnoxious things I’ve experienced as a content creator, and one of the reasons Twitch felt like home to me is because it’s supposed to be a website focused on gaming content creation.”
Shear said early hiccups would be fixed.
“We have absolutely no intention of flagging songs due to original in-game music,” he said. “If that’s happening (and it appears it is), it’s a problem and we will investigate and try to fix it. … No matter how remote you might feel the issue is, we aren’t willing to run the risk someone’s life gets ruined over this.”
He also repeatedly insisted that the live videos that Twitch emphasizes the most to regular visitors would not face audio takedowns.
“We have absolutely no intention of running any audio recognition against live video, period,” Shear said. In response, one cynical Redditor promised to “screenshot this, print it out and mail it to your office once a week for a year when you start running audio recognition against live video.”
YouTube, of course, is reportedly sniffing around Twitch as an acquisition target, and anything under its umbrella is a glowing red target for the music industry’s lawyers. But as Twitch’s audience grows into the tens of millions every month, it’s likely this hammer would’ve fallen in time, anyway.
On top of the changes to on-demand videos announced yesterday, Twitch Interactive also said on Tuesday that it would shut down Justin.tv, the general-purpose video streaming site from which it spun off. Why, one Redditor wondered, were the shutdown and the VOD changes announced so suddenly with “no advanced notice?”
“Simply put: We screwed up and should have announced it ahead of time,” Shear said. “Sorry.”