Music Industry Trade Groups Take Aim at Twitch Over Licensing Practices

Several trade groups representing the music industry and artists have signed onto a letter sent to Amazon-owned Twitch criticizing how the streaming service handles music licensing. Twitch content creators who are facing Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedowns have begun the painful process of deleting thousands of old archived broadcasts and clips to avoid being banned from the platform.

Trade Groups such as the RIAA, the Recording Academy, the National Music Publishers Association, the Music Managers Forum, the American Association of Independent Music, SAG-AFTRA, and others signed the letter, which was obtained by Variety.

“Twitch’s neglect of the fundamental rights of musicians, songwriters, sound recording artists, and many others whose music is exploited on Twitch without due compensation stands in stark contrast to Twitch’s competitors and to the support of such interests extended by Amazon’s own Amazon Music services,” the letter reads.

It also references a letter sent to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos by the Artist Rights Alliance questioning his testimony to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee on July 29 about the use of unlicensed music on the company’s streaming service. 

When asked by Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) at the hearing if Twitch allowed content creators to stream music without licensing it, Bezos said, “I’m going to have to ask that I could get back to your office with an answer to that question. I don’t know.”

The group called on Bezos to do better: “Jeff Bezos could not answer to Congress if Amazon’s Twitch live streaming service permitted its users to post unlicensed music. The music artists create is not only sacred in spirit and deserving respect — it also merits fair pay.” 

Unlike Twitch, other platforms are trying to remove the complications of worrying about copyrighted music while streaming. In September, Facebook Gaming announced multiple licensing deals with music labels and publishers to secure rights for its content creators on its gaming-focused live streaming platform. Facebook Gaming secured multi-year deals with Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Kobalt Music Group, BMG, and Merlin, among others. These deals cover 90 countries, according to Facebook Gaming.

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