Twitch silences unlicenced music amid acquisition rumours

Twitch silences unlicenced music amid acquisition rumours

Summary: In a move designed to mitigate copyright challenges amid acquisition rumours, Twitch has implemented Audible Magic technology to silence unlicenced music on its videogame-streaming site.

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Twitch has moved to silence unlicenced music on its videogame streaming site, implementing Audible Magic technology to scan VODs (video-on-demand) in a bid to avoid the storage of videos containing unauthorised third-party audio tracks on the platform.

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In a blog post published on the Twitch site on August 6, Twitch general counsel Elizabeth "Boo" Baker said that the company had partnered with Audible Magic to scan the site's videos-on-demand in order to identify and mute videos in which is detects copyrighted audio material. 

The move, which will effectively mitigate high-end legal challenges from copyright holders, comes only months after rumours surfaced that Google subsidiary YouTube was in talks to acquire Twitch for a reported US$1 billion — rumours about which Google, YouTube, and Twitch have refused to comment.

Adding fuel to the acquisition speculation was the shuttering yesterday of Justin.tv, the live-streaming platform that gave birth to Twitch in 2011.

Audible Magic, an automatic content recognition service, works closely with content producers and, by its own estimation, adds more than 250,000 new titles to its identification database every month.

Baker said in her blog post that the Audible Magic technology will scan for third-party music in 30 minute blocks, and if third-party audio content is detected anywhere in the half-hour segment, the entire block will be muted.

The company is restricting the audio-scanning operation to its stored VODs, not live-streamed videos, and it stresses that there is no automated takedown of live content.

"This includes in-game and ambient music," said Baker. "When music in the Audible Magic database is detected ... the affected portion of the VOD will be muted and volume controls for that VOD will be turned off. Additionally, past broadcasts and highlights with Flagged Content are exportable but will remain muted," she said.

Baker also warned that the audio recognition is not guaranteed to be "100 percent" accurate.

"It may return false positives or miss content from copyright owners who do not work with Audible Magic," she said.

Twitch also announced that it has removed the "save forever" option entirely from its VOD service, stating that 80 percent of its storage capacity was filled with past broadcasts that are never watched.

"Going forward, we're increasing default rolling storage for past broadcasts from three days to a maximum of 14 days, for everyone who has opted in. For Turbo subscribers and members of the Twitch Partner Program, that storage is increased to a maximum of 60 days," said Twitch CEO Emmett Shear in a blog post on the site. 

"Highlights will be saved indefinitely; however, they will now be limited to two hours in length. All prior highlights that you've made will be saved regardless of length," he said. "Given the viewership patterns on past broadcasts, we believe the trade-off is better for everyone."

According to an update on the site, these changes require Twitch to temporarily disable its YouTube Exporter in order to "resolve capacity issues".

Topics: Social Enterprise, Google, Tech Industry

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Leon covers enterprise technology and start-ups from ZDNet's Sydney newsroom.

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