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Twitchy Trigger Finger – record industry sends letter alleging that Twitch is violating copyright


November 25, 2020

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The Recording Industry Association of America along with other major organizations in the music industry (together, “RIAA”), have together written a “blistering” letter to Amazon alleging that Twitch, its online streaming platform, has allowed streamers to play copyrighted music without the proper licensing to do so.


As reported by Variety and The Verge, the letter appears to be an escalation in the RIAA’s allegations that Twitch is not abiding by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which governs copyright online in the United States.


Twitch released a statement in its defence, telling Variety that it pays royalties to performing rights organizations and thereby has public performance licenses for the music, which are the types of copyright licences that allow establishments such as restaurants to play music in public. Notwithstanding this, the RIAA alleges that Twitch requires at least two additional types of copyright licences – a synchronization licence and a mechanical licence – in order to continue allowing streamers to play the copyrighted music on Twitch.


The situation is similar to one that YouTube faced between 2007 and 2009. The allegations against YouTube led to the company’s implementation of a fingerprinting system that assists it in identifying and removing copyright infringement. The RIAA may be hoping for a similar outcome with Twitch.

Authors: Scott Kerr and Brennan Caldwell

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