Poker Twitch streamers forced to delete hundreds of hours of video

Jon Pill
Posted on: October 23, 2020 11:56 PDT

Hundreds of Twitch accounts including high profile poker players like Lex Veldhuis and Benjamin “Spraggy” Spragg — are having to delete swathes of their back catalogs on the streaming service for breaches of copyright.

The channels that received takedown notices were told they were in breach of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, better known as DMCA. Most of these DMCA strikes are for playing copyrighted music in the background of their streams as they played.

Many poker streamers leave their iTunes running as they play. The way they would in a typical unstreamed session. This background music is all copyrighted and by broadcasting it they have violated the creators' copyrights.

The real problem is that for years Twitch has been slack at enforcing monitoring music. Most Twitch streamers view background music as de facto fine. This is what has made the process so messy. Some channels have hundreds of hours of footage that violate this rule. Each creator has to go back over their clips now checking for possible violations.

It is an enormous admin burden that some are avoiding by simply deleting their work.


DMCA takedown

The affected twitchers woke up to find an email in their inbox informing them that: “your channel was the subject of one or more of these DMCA takedown notifications, and the content identified has been deleted [...] we have processed these notifications and are issuing you a one-time warning to give you the chance to learn about copyright law and the tools available to manage the content on your channel.”

Earlier in the year, various poker content channels on YouTube had to contend with a similar shutdown. YouTube banned dozens of channels.

That time around, Jaime Staples organized the community and persuaded YouTube to reinstate most of the videos.

But it was a matter of internal YouTube policy that flagged up gambling videos with links in the description as being against the Ts and Cs of the site. This time there probably won't be the same happy ending. Since it’s not Twitch’s own policy that has been violated here, but the law.

It is easy to see the difficulties for both sides.

After years of operating one way, poker streamers are having to go back and “fix” their previous work.

Twitch, on the other hand, can’t afford to slack on this as leaving copyrighted material up on their site exposed them to being sued.

The end result is that a huge amount of video disappeared without warning. And players are deleting even more of it. Any videos left up could earn a ban at a later date.


Upset players have taken to Twitter to let their fans know and to request help.

Jaime Staples called the situation a “big bummer”.

Lex Veldhuis bemoaned the prospect of having to listen to copyright free music, saying he’d “rather stab [his] ears.”

And with typical British understatement, Spraggy called losing hundreds of hours of his work: a “bit sad innit.”

What next?

The drastic deletions that took place over this week appear to be part of a flood of DMCA notices that exhausted Twitch.

Their email, quoted above, goes on to say they “will resume normal processing of DMCA takedown notifications” after close of play today: October 23, 2020.

So any videos left up at this point are likely to be safe for a spell. But content creators are wise in trying to get ahead of what may just be the first of several such waves.

Featured image source: Flickr