Head of Twitch Community Productions djWHEAT said, in no uncertain terms, that its time for streamers to end their practice of watching television shows on stream, before they get hit with DMCA strikes that could potentially end their streaming careers.
In a response to streamer Cohh Carnage's question about whether its is okay for streamers to be watching shows on stream, djWHEAT stated: "It’s absolutely not ok. Just like it has never been ok to stream music. This is just as DMCA’able as anything else. Hard to say why streamers have not been targeted, but just like music, it’s probably just a matter of time. This is not an official Twitch take, just my own."
While his statement isn't on behalf on the company itself, it is a huge warning shot fired across the bow of streamers like xQc, Pokimane, and DisguisedToast, among others, who have been watching anime and shows like MasterChef with their audiences over the past several weeks. Despite the practice being very clearly illegal without a prior approved agreement with the rights-holders, the streamers have thus far faced no punishment for their antics. But that will likely change.
Ryan Morrison, a US attorney who specializes in gaming entertainment, also responded to Carnage with similarly ominous warning for streamers who are breaking the law, saying: "Very quick way to get three strikes also if a rights holder catches your backlog. Highly don’t recommend doing this without a formal license."
Asmongold, StoneMountain, and TrainWreck have also voiced their concerns about the practice over the past several weeks. Asmongold said last week that he believes DMCA will bring the meta crashing down soon, and TrainWreck criticized the practice after he himself came under fire two years ago for watching MasterChef on his stream.
StoneMountain stated on Monday: "To my knowledge this is the same territory as the DMCA issues, there was no system and the companies didn't care enough, yet. Other platforms like YT have such a robust system for claiming and copyright that it gets hit quicker. The content and some of the reaction are great tho."
Despite the very clear legal breach that watching copyrighted material on a livesstream represents, a surprising number of Twitch viewers continue to defend the practice of stealing other peoples content. In a situation mirroring the DMCA issues related to music from earlier in 2021, many argued that streamers are actually doing companies a favor by stealing their content without paying for it, arguing that the exposure is worth a lot.
djWHEAT called out these arguments, calling them "downright horrifying" in his response.
In response to one person defending the stealing of content, djWHEAT stated "Losing one’s absolute [right] to make money or use a platform seems like a pretty horrifying situation to me… but f*ck around and find out I guess."
Luckily the takes defending blatant copyright law violation were outnumbered by the people condemning the practice, leading to djWHEAT stating "Ok, thankfully the smart takes now outnumber the ignorant takes. Good job everyone."
If the situation ends up anything like the music situation from this year, we are going to see a massive, sudden crack down on these practices, while streamers who are punished play the ignorant victim, who supposedly had no idea that they weren't allowed to steal that content. Earlier this year, Nick Mercs claimed that he was actually doing music artists a favor by stealing their content, instead of paying for it.
At the end of the day, it seems that for those who are violating the DMCA, it comes down to them wanting to pay artists and creators in exposure, instead of money. However, it is unlikely that they themselves would take exposure in lieu of pay.
Aaron is an esports reporter with a background in media, technology, and communication education.