Congress asked Jeff Bezos during historic antitrust hearings why Twitch doesn’t pay music royalties. Bezos replied, “I don’t know.”
That may seem strange, but it’s true. Rather than license music, Twitch issues DMCA takedowns to streamers. Several prominent Twitch streamers are being threatened with full bans for multiple copyright infringement notices. Twitch is legally required to comply with any Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA) request it receives, but alternatively, the platform could also pay for music upfront and issue royalties to musicians.
Since the coronavirus pandemic has put much of the world in lockdown, musicians are turning to Twitch. Total streaming hours for the service increased by 50% between March and April, showcasing just how many people tuned in to Twitch as a platform.
Accordingly, rightsholders are becoming increasingly aggressive with their music appearing in clips on Twitch. But you wouldn’t know that from Jeff Bezos’ appearance in front of Congress yesterday. Amazon acquired Twitch for $970 million in 2014, putting Bezos in charge of the platform. Yesterday, Bezos was asked several pointed questions from Congressional representatives.
Kelly Armstrong (ND-R) asked Bezos, “My understanding is that Twitch allows users to stream music but does not license the music. Is that correct?”