Twitch is attempting to mend fences with a big pillar of the music industry by announcing an agreement to “work together” with the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA). Details are vague right now, but the agreement says they plan to “build productive partnerships between the service and music publishers” after a year of conflict over music rights.
Twitch has long had a contentious relationship with the music industry, which has accused the company of allowing streamers to play copyrighted music without the appropriate licenses. Streamers have come under the eye of music publishers as well, with some being subject to waves of Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedown notices that resulted in Twitch deleting content from their channels.
The Amazon-owned streaming service is now attempting to appease both groups, with the agreement suggesting there could be new business opportunities for publishers down the road and fewer takedown notices for streamers. Neither is guaranteed, however.
The one tangible announcement here is a new — and potentially more forgiving — reporting process that music publishers can use to flag songs being used without a license in someone’s stream. The idea of this, in part, is to “address when creators inadvertently or incidentally use music in their streams,” according to a press release. This process starts with a warning instead of immediate penalties, according to Twitch, which could address critiques from streamers who had their content deleted.
That said, this new process is separate from the one in place for the DMCA, and it does not change Twitch’s rules about how music can be used on the platform. And according to Billboard, Twitch isn’t paying for additional music licenses as part of the deal, so it’s unclear exactly how much will change as a result of this new partnership. If publishers opt in to the new process, it could resolve DMCA issues. But since that requires the rights holders to opt in and use it instead of the traditional takedown notice, we just don’t know yet if that will happen.
The rest of the deal promises some grand partnerships — “from virtual shows to studio sessions, the partnerships stemming from this agreement will connect the Twitch community in many ways to the music they enjoy” — but we don’t have a great idea of what it all amounts to.
The agreement indicates Twitch is at least attempting to resolve some of the issues with licensed music on the platform — and, ideally, ease some of the burden from streamers who get punished for playing music on their channel. But right now, we just don’t know how much of an impact the deal will have.