A popular streaming platform Twitch has long been chastised for its lack of an effective music licensing system that ensures that when copyright-protected music is used in streams, revenue is directed to the artist. Twitch and the National Music Publishers’ Association in the United States are now on the verge of securing a music licensing agreement that could solve the problem.
Although the parties have yet to sign it, a deal could be announced as early as next week. Because Twitch lacks a system similar to YouTube Content ID, music is currently removed from the platform after rights holders issue takedown orders. Streamers must obtain permission from artists and labels, use copyright-free music, or refrain from using music in their streams altogether.
Music can be uploaded under the safe harbor agreements of the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act as long as it is removed at the right holder’s request. Twitch has no music licensing agreements with major labels, but it does have agreements with performing rights organizations such as ASCAP and BMI.
Because Twitch is owned by Amazon, the NMPA has long argued that it has the financial resources to pay artists fairly when their music is used in streams. Twitch has consistently stated that a fix is on the way. Twitch introduced partnerships like Soundtrack, which provides users with copyright-free music and allows artists to track their stats through ForTunes, in place of a traditional licensing system.
While Twitch has been stalling, the National Music Publishers Association has been slapping DMCA takedown orders on unlicensed music on the platform, resulting in awkward situations like Metallica’s feed being replaced with a peaceful Zelda-esque soundtrack.