Today’s post is a bit more about some legal issues connected to live streaming, namely copyright infringement by listening to music while you are live streaming. Both in the USA and the EU, there are regulations that penalize copyright infringement, so you better keep in mind what may or may not do while you are live streaming.
How could this happen exactly and how can you avoid copyright infringement? What happens if you breach the regulations? Read this article
Disclaimer: Please note that this post serves only informational purposes and does not take place as legal advice. Any major decision should be consulted by a professional lawyer.
What does copyright mean?
Copyright serves as legal protection for authors, such as writers, musicians, etc. - the creator of an original work. The creator is the owner of their intellectual work (or intellectual property), and thus they have some special rights to protect it from other, unauthorized users.
Many forms of intellectual property can be a subject of copyright protections: music, written works (novels, poetry, books), sound recordings, audiovisual works (videos), software and even websites, and many more.
Copyright on an intellectual property exists from the very moment the work is created. However, only registered works can be protected by a lawsuit of infringement. There is no such thing as ‘international copyright protection’, but most of the works are protected in at least one of the world’s many countries.
As mentioned above, there are certain exclusive rights of the copyright owner, such as reproducing the work, publishing the work, distributing copies of the work, performing, and/or displaying the work publicly. Copyright also provides the owner of copyright the right to authorize others to exercise these exclusive rights, subject to certain statutory limitations.
For example, a musician sells the right of distributing copies of their music to the company called Spotify, which company is therefore allowed to use the music, so people can listen to it on their platform, and Spotify could grant their users ‘...limited, non-exclusive, revocable permission to make use of the Spotify Service, and limited, non-exclusive, revocable permission to make personal, non-commercial use of the Content’.
This means when you listen to music on Spotify, you must not listen to it in front of many people or use it for commercial purposes, because that is a copyright infringement.
If a copyright infringement happens, the owner of the rights can file a lawsuit in order to receive a fair compensation from the unauthorized user.
There are ways to avoid infringement, such as fair use, giving credit to the author, or purchasing the content.
Why does my content gets muted on Twitch?
The DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) is a US copyright law.
"It addresses the rights and obligations of owners of copyrighted material who believe their rights under U.S. copyright law have been infringed, particularly but not limited to, on the Internet. DMCA also addresses the rights and obligations of OSP / ISP (Internet Service Providers) on whose servers or networks the infringing material may be found."
Under the regulation, a company will act illegally if it knows about the illegal content and ignores it. This means, if you are creating infringing content on one of the broadcasting platforms, they should remove it ASAP, or they’ll face the consequences of misusing the DMCA.
This is why Twitch mutes certain VODs of past broadcasts and YouTube would not let you monetize a video that contains copyrighted music (unless you prove that you had the right to use the music).
Music Guidelines on Twitch
So what music can you listen to that will not be muted on your VODs?
Well, the variations are very limited.
Twitch will not mute the sound on your VODs if the music you played while you were streaming is
owned by you,
licensed to you,
captured in Twitch Sings gameplay or
otherwise not protected by copyright (see more on this topic later in this article).
All other music played while you are streaming will be muted by Twitch on your VODs after your stream has ended, including the digital music you bought (e.g. on Amazon) or if you were listening to music streaming services which you subscribed to. This is because of the fact that 99% of the time these purchases do not grant you the right to share the purchased music with the public, including your audience on Twitch.
What could happen if you infringe copyright while you are live streaming?
In addition to getting your VODs muted by Twitch, you may be subject to a DMCA takedown notice from music rights holders. If you used the music unauthorized, you should take the content down as soon as possible after the notice and respond at the same time. If you fail to respond, you could be facing a copyright infringement lawsuit.
Twitch has an automatic system that detects copyrighted music under streams and will mute certain sections in your videos. Twitch may also take other actions including terminating the Twitch Account of repeat infringers.
Music you can listen to while streaming
There are certain music providers you can listen to while you are streaming because they let users play their music in front of an audience for free or for a small amount of money each month.
If you want to invest in your live stream and your streaming career I highly suggest buying a subscription to uncopyrighted music such as Epidemic Sound, which has a free, 30-day trial, or Monstercat Gold which costs $5/month.
Another popular music service is Pretzel Rocks, which is a free software designed especially for live streamers but it has a requirement for mandatory chat attribution. Pretzel Rocks also has a Premium feature for $14.95 per month.
There are also independent music artists who don't fall under any record label and allow people to use their music free of charge such as Harris Heller. With a little research on the internet, you can find more artists like him.
You can also ask artists directly if you like their music and would love to play it on your stream, maybe do a collaboration to support each other.