How to Avoid Getting Banned on Twitch for Music
June 29, 2020

Recently, streamers have reported that they are receiving Digital Millennium Copyright Act, or DMCA, strikes for featuring copyrighted music in their clips. These claims are issued to videos dating from 2017 to 2019 and affect not only those created by streamers but by other users as well.

This presents a problem since having three strikes against you can lead to your channel being permabanned if the offending videos are not removed. Claims are issued automatically, so it’s best not to waste any time. It’s important to review the Twitch terms of service regarding music and your videos to see what can get you banned, and to find out how you can avoid getting dinged.

What Content Violates the Copyright Rules?

In a nutshell, you shouldn’t broadcast music that you don’t own or have a license to use. Even if a snippet accidentally plays in the background, you can get a strike. That was the case with Lenz v. Universal when a family video of a baby dancing to a Prince song was taken down from YouTube. 

According to the Twitch terms of service, copyrighted content includes cover versions of songs, DJ sets, radio programs, karaoke and lip-sync performances, and visual music depiction. What this means is that you cannot show a song’s lyrics, or mimic that you are singing your favorite song. Also, if you are subscribed to Spotify or another music streaming service, you cannot play it on your streams. These services grant you personal use rights, not public broadcast ones.

Video game scores may not fall under these claims since it’s the developers or publishers who have rights to this original music, and not the record companies. However, there may be pitfalls such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare’s copyrighted soundtrack, so you may want to check the status game soundtracks in advance.

On the other hand, games can feature music owned by someone else. For instance, Grand Theft Auto’s radio stations, or the music played in trailers and cutscenes. The game’s developers were given a license to use it, but they cannot pass that license on to streamers.

It’s not clear yet what will happen with games that feature licensed music, like Just Dance or Guitar Hero. If a game has original music that was written for it, then it’s better to stick to that or to use Copywrite-free playlists. For instance, Beat Saber has a few Content ID-free music packs.

Keep in mind that you may be issued a warning even if you are not a US resident. Twitch is a US company, so it has to abide by the DMCA.

How to Avoid Strikes

Having a strike against you doesn’t mean that your channel is done. The claim just means you have to take down the content that infringes copyright. You may have not received a DMCA notice yet, but it’s best to take precautions anyway. 

Here’s what you should do:

Remove All Content That Could Fall Under DMCA Claims

Since claims are made against videos featuring music, you should remove your clips and VODs that have infringing content. 

You can do this from your video collection page: Just go to Twitch, click on your account icon in the top right corner and choose Video Producer. From there, go to Clips and check the box at the top of the list to select all clips on the screen. Note that Clips fall into two categories: Clips I’ve Created, and Clips of my Channel. The latter are user-created videos, but you must remove them anyway since it’s you who will get the warning. 

The problem with removing Clips is that you have to scroll down every time so the page displays more of your videos. It’s okay if you have several hundred of them, but for those with thousands of clips this will take quite a lot of time

You could watch every one of them to find the ones with music, but with claims being given out automatically, you wouldn’t want to waste time.

One solution is to use a tool like Tampermonkey, created by CommanderRoot. Here’s what to do:

  1. Install the Tampermonkey browser extension.
  2. Install the Clip Removal script. 
  3. Head to this page and click Remove all Clips.

The process may take a while, so keep the tab open. The script allows for some filtering, including view counts, category IDs, creator name, and date created. The tool is constantly updated, so you may want to keep an eye out for new features.

As for removing other videos, such as VODs or highlights, the native process is more tedious than with clips, since there’s no mass delete option, so you will have to remove every single video manually. If you want to go that route, you can use the Video Manager. Just log in via Twitch, and choose which videos you want to remove. This tool allows you to filter videos too.

These videos reflect thousands of hours of work, so you may wish to save them before removing them from your account. VODs can be downloaded manually from the Video Producer page. Click on the three-dot button at the right of the video, and choose Download. Twitch doesn’t allow batch downloading, but you can use tools such as Twitch Leecher. It can download only VODs, though. For clips, try Snipaclip or the solution described here.

Use Copyright-Free Music

It’s as simple as that, don’t break the rules and you won’t get in trouble. While you are sure to have your favorite playlists, there are plenty of copyright-free options available, including from streaming services.

Here are just some of them:

Some musicians offer their music to streamers. Just check out the Twitch subreddit for relevant posts or this big list here. There are also ready-made playlists with copyright-free music available. One of the most popular ones is StreamBeats, created by Harris Heller.

Use Amazon Music

Streamers who have Prime or Amazon Music Unlimited can share music they are listening to with their viewers — as long as those viewers are Prime members or Amazon Music Unlimited subscribers too.

To install the Amazon Music extension, head here.

Disable the Ability to Make Lists

You might consider preventing users from creating clips from your streams until the smoke clears after receiving a strike. To do this, head to Channel Preferences and uncheck Enable Clips. This will not delete your videos, but users won’t be able to create new ones.

Get Permission to Play Music

If there’s a piece of music you really would love to play, be sure to get permission to do it. It doesn’t matter if you have purchased a digital album or a CD, as this only gives you the right to play it for yourself.

If you are doing covers or DJ sets, consider obtaining a synchronization license, which is required for releasing music in video format such as video streams on Twitch. Otherwise, use free-to-stream music.

Use Streamer Mode

Some games like Forza Horizon 4 have incorporated a so-called ‘streamer mode.’ This mode disables all in-game music that can violate the DMCA and get streamers into trouble. Alternatively, you can simply disable the in-game music yourself.

What’s Next?

DMCA claims are not the end of your streaming career. Once you’ve cleaned your channel of risky content, and begun using only music that follows the platform’s guidelines, you can carry on creating engaging content for your followers. 

One of the services that can help you generate more revenue from streaming and grow your audience is Xsolla Partner Network. It’s a platform for working directly with developers and publishers through affiliate programs. There’s no need to wait for someone to reach out to you, just sign up on the platform and join as many affiliate programs you want. The revenue share can be as high as 50%, and all sales your content generates will support game developers.

The programs are listed in a convenient dashboard that also provides you with program details, including revenue share, platforms, and assets such as game keys, coupons, or promo codes. After you join the program, you will be given a tracking link that you can share anywhere you like. For instance, on your streaming channel or social media profiles. You can also use the platform to get promotional materials directly from developers to distribute among your followers.

Xsolla Partner Network also provides you with a range of analytics tools, so you can see how the program is performing. Payouts can be made once your balance reaches $100 or higher. 

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Music for your channel can come from numerous sources, so don’t despair if you can no longer use your favorite playlist. Check out the sources above for links to royalty-free music, ask your followers for suggestions, or reach out to musicians who offer music to streamers. You should be able to find new tunes easily, and by following the guidelines here you can avoid strikes and stream on.

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