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The rumoured YouTube buy-out already seems to be changing Twitch

Copyright sweeps and limited archiving: big changes are coming to Twitch, and users are alarmed.


Twitch today announced two major policy changes, both of which impact end users.

According to the Twitch blog, the service today implemented an audio recognition system. This system checks archived videos for copyright material, and enforces 30 minutes of silence whenever it is detected.

What that means is that if you were playing copyright music during a stream, and then archived that stream, you'll now have gaping periods of silence, with all audio muted. This applies to in-game music as well.

The change is likely to affect thousands of archived videos, and indeed has even hit some of Twitch's own archives.

"We respect the rights of copyright owners, and are voluntarily undertaking this effort to help protect both our broadcasters and copyright owners," Twitch said.

"Audio Recognition will only be run against audio in VODs. We are not scanning live broadcasts and there is no automated takedown of live content.

"Flagged Content will display an on-screen notification informing viewers that content owned or controlled by a third party has been identified. The progress bar will also be red for the duration of the muted section."

Twitch said the system is not 100% accurate and may return false positives or miss copyrighted materials, and said users can file claims for incorrect flagging.

"If you wish to include music in your VODs, please remember that you are responsible for clearing all such rights (this includes ambient music that may be playing in the background while you are broadcasting)," the service added, linking to various free music sources as alternatives to copyrighted materials.

Interestingly, Twitch noted that it's not legally obliged to filter user's content for copyright claims and is doing so voluntarily, which is likely to make some users even more upset.


Twitch archives to be deleted

That's not the only big change coming to archived Twitch streams: the service has announced that archived streams will no longer be stored indefinitely.

Citing technical requirements for supplying video on demand to a variety of devices across the globe, Twitch said that archived broadcasts will be automatically saved for 14 days (rather than the three the current system allows), but the "save forever" option is gone.

Turbo Subscribers and Partners don't have it that much better, with just 60 days of storage.

The upside is, the new system will allow playback on mobile devices, allow for the saving of highlight reels without the entire broadcast, make saved broadcasts more secure, allow for easier YouTube exporting, and future-proof for new features.

In defence of the move, Twitch said that most views of archives broadcasts occur within two weeks of creation and drop off dramatically thereafter.

"We also discovered that 80% of our storage capacity is filled with past broadcasts that are never watched. That’s multiple petabytes for video that no one has ever viewed," Twitch said.

"To be clear: this is not a move to economize on space. Due to the triple redundancy, it will actually require us to substantially increase our total amount of storage."

It's worth noting that highlight reels will never be deleted - but they can only be two hours long moving forward. Past highlight reels that exceed this limit will not be deleted or cut.

Twitch will begin removing archived broadcasts older than 14 days in three weeks time, and is encouraging users to create highlight reels or export to YouTube using a new Video Manager tool.

Tell Twitch what you think

Twitch will be hosting a Reddit AMA and a Twitch Weekly as well as opening comments to gather feedback on the changes. Read the email sent to broadcasters for more information.

Although no reference was made to the deal, there's a highly credible rumour that YouTube has purchased Twitch, and the timing is deeply suspicious. YouTube is well known for its collaboration with copyright holders to enforce claims, for example.

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