caspar-camille-rubin-DrL-cwqD6tM-unsplashThe tension that once existed between the rights of the average content creator online and those of copyright holders no longer exists, because the battle has long since been decided in favor of rightsholders. As long documented in this space, the rules and regulations governing YouTube and Facebook and other content repositories lean decidedly towards those pressing a claim of copyright infringement, to the point that the act of filing such a claim has been made easy in every regard for the claimant and almost impossible to fight for the alleged violator.

It seems the logical end point of such measures for platforms to remove the onus from rightsholders entirely and delete offending material automatically, which is what Twitch seems poised to do. According to The Verge, the live-streaming site of choice for gamers will now scan uploaded videos for copyrighted music and and delete portions of any videos that contain any such songs. It's an expansion of a program that's already in place, in partnership with Audible Magic, that searches and identifies copyrighted material in streams on the platform; that same tool will now be turned towards clips, and streamers will see portions of their videos automatically deleted to remove the songs.

Twitch also announced that streamers wouldn't be penalized for any removals under the new program, as well as an option to remove clips from their channel, so there might be some small comfort there. But there are of course concerns about both implementation and unintended consequences, as with any program relying largely upon automation. The sheer size of the user base of Twitch and other platforms means that a margin of error for automatic deletions, which might be otherwise acceptable in the abstract, will still affect thousands unfairly, and while there may be no penalty and thus no harm to flagged users, it doesn't seem as though that should be the measure of success for our AI.

More broadly, Twitch's new approach seems like a tremendous overcorrection to what is surely a minor problem. Games feature licensed music, and plenty of people play games while listening to music; are game streams any sort of substitute for listening to songs on Spotify or Apple Music of any other licensed streaming service? It's hard to see how background music from a Fortnite stream is causing any actual damage to record labels or rightsholders, but this seems less about tangible damage and more about assuring that those same groups are pacified, no matter the merits of their complaints.

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