Twitch Reddit AMA with CEO signals audio muting debacle

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CEO of Twitch, Emmett Shear, answered question during a Reddit AMA yesterday, confronting concerns from the website’s users

Remember a couple of days ago when we told you about Twitch using wizardry to censor licensed music on its streamers’ Videos on Demand (VODs)? No? Well, go and read it, because whilst they’re not technically using wizardry, they are using a company call Audible Magic to scan and mute sections of VODs with licensed music.

Just before the announcement of this censoring feature, Twitch also announced they were getting rid of the ability to save archived VODs forever. And then with the announcement of the audio censoring, it’s fair to say that users weren’t best pleased.

Following on from all the news and changes this week, Twitch held a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) with CEO Emmett Shear.

In response to some of the more common questions, Emmet summarised his answers. He also clarified that ‘we have no intention whatsoever of bringing audio-recognition to live streams on Twitch. This is a VOD-only change for Twitch’. Meaning that only streams that have ended and then been archived as a VOD will be scanned for potential muting.

We’ve laid out a couple of the bigger points answered by Emmett for you below:

In-game music was also a topic of discussion, with concerns that VODs could be muted because of it;

‘We have zero intention of flagging original in-game music. We do intend to flag copyrighted in-game music that's in Audible Magic's database. (This was unclear in the blog post, my apologies). In the cases where in-game music is being flagged incorrectly, we are working on a resolution and should have one soon. False positive flags will be unmuted.’

The audio muting change came without any prior warning;

‘This was our bad. I'm glad we communicated the change to VOD storage policy in advance, giving us a chance to address issues we missed like 2-hour highlights for speedrunners before the change went into effect. I'm not so glad we failed on communicating the audio-recognition change in advance, and wish we'd posted about it before it went into effect. That way we could have gotten community feedback first as we're doing now after the fact.’

An update was provided on Twitch's blog following the AMA.

A prime example of how the muting system works can be seen on pro Dota 2 player, Fear’s, channel. He’s playing Dota 2, naturally, but he’s listening to music which can be heard in the background – the Audible Magic system must have picked this up and automatically muted sections of the VOD.

Twitch users are certainly concerned about these big changes, and rightly so. It’s all a confusing, muddled swamp of legality and censorship. Whilst Twitch is obviously trying to cover itself in legal terms, how will this affect its user base? Could we be seeing other livestream sites used as a refuge for the disgruntled Twitch community?

Other examples of the system have even muted Valve’s Dota 2 International 2014 VODs, and also Twitch’s own VODs. This is a messy situation, and we’ll bring you more updates as it develops.

Related articles:

Twitch clamping down on third-party music

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How do you feel about the whole Twitch audio muting debacle?

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