Audio Recognition Software Tracks Copyright Infringement on Twitch.TV


Twitch, following its purchase by Google, has now incorporated audio recognition to scan past and future videos for unauthorized third-party audio. This will affect the whole of the Twitch community’s video database, and may receive a response similar to YouTube when they updated their regulations with their own content recognition software. Twitch has partnered with Audible Magic, an automatic content recognition software company well-connected with the music industry, in order to find and recognize music on videos. This will include video game and ambient music.

Though this is unlikely to affect Let’s Play (LP) streamers and videos for indie games since most indie developers are typically open with allowing this kind of publicity, the audio recognition software is automated and imperfect. The announcement noted that it would only search for unauthorized use of third-party audio, but did not specify how it would know when the video had permission to use the specified audio. It also noted the possibility that the audio recognition would overlook content from copyright owners or return false positives, and that anyone with videos that they feel have been incorrectly flagged can send a counter-notification “that is compliant with the provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”).”

Audio recognition will not affect live streams, but there is an option for copyright owners to submit a notification if they believe their audio is used without permission. The details of that are currently unknown. It is possible that each notification will be reviewed before any action is taken on Twitch, although YouTube’s copyright infringement notification system tends to have an instant effect. Videos in storage will be divided into 30 minute blocks which will then be scanned for unauthorized audio. If any is found, those 30 minutes of video will be muted and audio controls will be disabled.

Twitch users are told that they are responsible for gaining the rights for the music used in their videos, but that they can use a variety of resources for free music, including Creative Commons, Jamendo, and SongFreedom. Some comments for the blog suggest that many are already considering moving to alternative video storage and streaming sites, such as Ustream, Hitbox, and OnLive. It is unknown as to whether this will affect how Twitch streamers can monetize their videos, but it’s my opinion that muting the content will avoid a need to provide copyright owners with funds, which would be an improvement over Youtube’s system. Unfortunately, this is sure to affect viewers the most, ensuring that some content will be video only, and might become unwatchable as a result.

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