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What the hell is going on at Twitch?

Been paying attention to Twitch news the last few days?

Yesterday,, ( the parent company of Twitch and general-purpose streaming site, was shut down. Everyone's accounts are being deleted, all the saved videos are being erased.

Today, Twitch announces past broadcasts can no longer be saved forever. They will now be deleted after 14 days for normal accounts and 60 days for subscribers. In three weeks all past broadcasts older than 60 days will be erased. 

Highlights can be saved indefinitely, but they are now limited to 2 hours in length. (Many existing highlights on Twitch are way longer than 2 hours.).

What is up with this mass deletion of content and all these sudden limitations?  I don't see how this would be a result of a Google acquisition. All three of these moves seem designed to cut costs and save on storage space, two ideas that are completely foreign to Google. Why would a company that was about to get a billion dollar cash injection and unlimited resources start wiping all this data and limiting archiving? Google loves data and wants to keep everything around forever. Just look at things like G+ Auto Upload and Gmail.

It's not copyright-related because deleting content older than a certain arbitrary date doesn't do anything to fix copyright violations. Twitch still has live video and 60-day old video, and if you're going to call streaming a video game copyright infringement, all of that is still infringing. There's nothing about a video being old that makes copyright infringement more or less bad.

There is also no need to "clean up" Twitch before an acquisition. If Google bought a site that was full of infringing content it would just have a bunch of DMCA takedown notices to process (on top of the million it normally processes a day, that's no big deal). The DMCA protects sites that make an effort to remove content. That's why YouTube exists today.

Also today, Twitch announced it would automatically scan videos for copyrighted music and mute them. This includes game music. They've already muted videos of Pokemon for containing Pokemon music and Punch Out for the NES because it contained music from Punch Out. Yes, a video game site banned video game music. Keep in mind these videos still infringe copyright. There is nothing magical about audio; images from a game are also copyrighted and Twitch has left the video up, which means they are still violating copyright. That Mario sprite is ©Nintendo and if the audio isn't covered under fair use, the video isn't either.

I don't see a company prepping for a Google takeover, I see panic. Panic and a lack of understanding of what it should be doing. I think Google would want to keep all the old data instead of deleting it and enforce the DMCA on existing videos by processing takedown requests as they come in, which is all the law requires.

Why is Twitch doing this? Who the hell thinks any of this is a good idea? I think if Google was behind these changes you would see a much more organised and experienced transition. Part of me thinks the Google deal fell through or something and this is Twitch's attempt to tighten down costs and try to stand on its own. 

It's just weird that all of a sudden there are all these changes over at Twitch and all of them seem to be misguided, harmful to the service, and don't really solve any of Twitch's problems.

I see three instances of cutting storage costs and one ham-fisted misapplication of copyright enforcement, none of which smell like Google to me. Thoughts?
Thomas Wrobel's profile photoManu. da (NZ)'s profile photoS Shum's profile photoJohn Loya's profile photo
Totally in agreement, Ron. I can't come up with any rationalization for this in the light of the probably Google buyout. It's confusing and unsettling.
Pretty sound assumptions to me.
My suspicion is that Twitch has been operating at a loss for a while, and have been pinning their hopes on Google digging them out of their money pit. The Google deal must not have happened, so now Twitch doesn't know what to do.
Thomas Vu
Google is going to get blamed anyway
Sounds like pains of growing up. But also logical business decisions that needed to be made.

As they explain in their blog post - triple redundancy means they are not saving on costs here, just increasing reliability.

Keeping all the content forever is a huge luxury, Google or not, and their data seems to support that it's just not worth the trouble.

Exporting all of that old content to YouTube doesn't sound like something Google shouldn't like. 
Jon L
Sabotage by irate tech staff while management cries in the corner?
Long comment time. Sorry.

I'm guessing this is just the beginning of a major sea-change in how Twitch operates. YouTube already aggressively enforces audio and video copyright through algorithms, essentially because the movie and music studios threatened to sue them en masse if they didn't develop tools to combat piracy and other infringing acts.

Streaming game music is much different, from a clarity of existing law standpoint, than streaming game video. The game music is a completely unaltered piece of copyrighted material being publicly performed. It is readily and easily identifiable as such, and YT has proven that they have the tools to enforce this actively, rather than sit back and wait for the DMCAs to roll in. The music is also intrinsically valuable and entertaining, at least in theory.

Enforcing this against video game streaming imagery is slightly murkier if only because game companies have generally chosen not to enforce their rights here. Twitch exists - it hasn't been sued into oblivion. The fact is, there is a tacit, unspoken agreement here between devs / publishers and Twitch that what Twitch does is good for companies that make games.

There's also the fact that, even if video games and all art, assets, and other creative in them are fully copyrighted, it's difficult to argue watching someone play a video game is really the valuable part of that IP. Copyright infringement fair use analysis requires a weighing of the intrinsic value of the copied material.

A video of a video game - minus the music - it is very difficult to argue, has strong intrinsic value to the copyright holder. None of the copyrighted assets are compromised (it's a video), the value of the work (the game) is not decreased (if anything, it's increased), the substantiality used is arguably tiny (a video of a game is nothing compared to playing the game), and the purpose of the copying clearly does not supersede the purpose of the original work (you don't watch a game instead of buying it). Fair use can be for the purpose of comment and criticism (exactly what Twitch is about, in a sense). It's also a common misconception that fair use has to be not-for-profit, and that's not at all the case.

Twitch operates in a pretty murky area, and I think YouTube gets that. The music thing makes some sense to me. Taking down old videos, I think, gives Twitch more plausible deniability in terms of playing down the value of the copied work - if it were truly valuable, wouldn't they keep it forever? Limiting highlights to 2 hours ensures that even less of the whole work is copied, too.

Just some thoughts.
+David Ruddock Do you see any reason why this would need to happen before a potential buyout and not after?
Jon L
+Ron Amadeo sudden risk due to actually having stock worth suing for.
+Ron Amadeo At this point no one seems to know when or if a buyout happened. I honestly can't answer why as to the timing.
Hey, I can operate at a loss too. Give me a billion dollars nao, Google. K?
+Pysanky Pittsburgh everyone thought it was a done deal, but nobody has confirmed it officially and it may be that Twitch had a surge of popularity that inflated the price beyond what Google wanted. I mean, it's not hard to replicate this for YouTube. Twitch has been growing more to the point where $1b wasn't enough.

If there was an acquisition, twitch would eventually be shut down. There wouldn't be a need for all of these policies. Twitch is falling apart now, to the point where they may be cheaper and they'll be bought out.
I can't argue with your assesment, but I think you may also be loooking at a situation where the deal has already gone through and before Google wants to legally attach to it's company it wants these changes to go through. The storage change is to enforce distinct branding that is for live videos and Youtube is for finished videos. Youtube's streaming hasn't gone so well, the site isn't really built for it, so Google will just make Twitch their streaming platform and abandon the youtube streaming. Removal of is to close any legal holes there with copyright, and the new Audible Magic system is just so can be compliant with Google's agreements with the MPAA and RIAA at the time it's officially accquired by google.

But that's just a theory, your theory seems just a valid to me.
What if Twitch employees are angry about the acquisition and are sabotaging the site while they still can?
There is one other possibility. Google wants twitch to do all the stuff people will hate before they put their name to it.... to lessen negative PR.

Google gets a lot of flak for a lot of stuff. When youtube was bought out, they put ads on and everybody hated it. Every time google changes something... everybody hates it and whines for ages, (then they loved it and hated the next change). While sometimes people have a point, people also really hate change and hate a business operating... well... like a business... that has to operate within the law.

Does it really make so little sense that a behind-the-scenes deal might be twitch fixing everything themselves BEFORE google officially puts their name on stuff so twitch wears some of the negative PR?

As for 'deleting data'. I think this is a misnomer. Firstly, they arnt deleting any of the actual marketing data, just the content of people gaming. However, all the meta-information thats attached to the petabytes of people doing speedruns and playing league of legends for 12 hour sessions is far more valuable than the data itself.

I think the company stands to lose nothing in the transition. Secondly, you can see its in line with a fundamental redesign of the system, (the data is no longer stored across multiple servers, and is now probably redundant with google's plug and play methodology).

You might be right, but I dont really see red flags yet personally. I think there were some glaring issues with the 'deleting data' premise. And more importantly, I'm on the complete opposite side of the fence with the 'its a bad idea to change before the acquisition'.. i think its an excellent idea, if it turns out they are still buying, it was a cunning strategy.
+Don Scherig " is for live videos and Youtube is for finished videos." That's an interesting idea and would probably be the plan at some point if the deal goes through. If you look at something like G+ auto upload though, Google's stance is usually to keep everything in a dumping ground (the auto upload folder) and highlight the stuff that's good (G+ auto highlights and albums).

Twitch now has no dumping ground where users can keep everything. It's all just being erased, which seems like the opposite of what Google usually wants to do. 
+Pysanky Pittsburgh That's just a rumor, which is around since the beginning of this year, and it's still not confirmed (it's confirmed, when an official statement is being made) , the title is just a clickbait.
Twitch wouldn't be receiving a $1B cash injection, that money would be going to the current owners of the company, not the company's balance sheet.
To all you people flaming Twitch for this whole story...guess what? People daily, do streams using Copyrighted music, and twitch is just trying to cover their asses from lawsuits when the day comes that lawyers decide to crack down on Twitch and that way they can say that they did take some steps. If they were to get sued on a large scale..twitch would flat out NOT exist anymore. Now on the other game runners are gonna suffer because of this whole fiasco and that sucks yes...but what can you do about it? Some games like xbox games today, contain music from copyrighted albums and such...
This is similar to the feeling I had. Also, moving the deletion date up forces users to export their backlog of videos to YouTube, en masse... seems like a petty revenge tactic to push storage costs onto Google.
Ron just one small correction - Most of the major video game publishers and studios have come out and explicitly stated that they have no problem with their content being used and streamed on twitch. Nintendo is a bit of an odd dog in this case and for some reason doesn't want free exposure/advertising. MOST of the VIDEO content on twitch is COMPLETELY valid under fair use.
+Aaron Wood Clearly the answer is to freak out and claim the sky is falling amiright?
+Andreas Knoben Show me concrete proof that google ACTUALLY bought twitch. A buyout would be MORE PUBLIC on BOTH PARTIES sides.
+Michael Weir, either that, or grab your pitchforks and torches and storm the castle. ;)
+Aaron Wood So twitch, in an attempt to cover their asses from lawyers by censoring copyrighted music is somehow in the wrong? People got too used to using songs they didn have rights to stream on their stream. There are artists who will alllow you to stream their music too. Also i know that video game players are gonna be hurt...but regardless of that's just being implemented. There wil be some way im sure to get around this.
Hi Michael! Thanks for taking the time to type out your opinion on the internet! I'm going to file that away ASAP under "Other People's Opinions That I May Or May Not Care About."

Have a GREAT day!
Lulz. <-- You bring it. :)
+Mygaffer Nunya there was a AMA today and even the twitch people had said that there were flukes in the system today, and that they have no strong issues against Video Game Speedrunners or people who use in-game music in their streams (Copyrighted music excluded, such as xbox games or ps4 games). I get the vibe that they are alright with people doing gameplays like Zelda and retro stuff, but any game that plays a popular song will get matched
+Michael Weir I got the feeling that the CEO was lying through his teeth, based on his direct contradiction of the "in-game and ambient" verbiage in the blog from the day before. Seems to have been a failed attempt at damage control. 
I thought Nintendo these days decided to earn money from letsplays anyway on youtube rather then block them?
Sure I read that somewhere.
Oh, and no big lose about storing Twitch stuff if its just going to youtube instead eventually. Searching over old stuff on Twitch was terrible I say "searching" but I mean "jerky scrolling"
Chris K
While some worth-while impressions. I would quibble with the notion that some of these actions do not impact risk(s) of litigation for copyright infringement(s); that is simply in error. Taking steps to reduce violations of copyright looks good in the court of law and it demonstrates efforts to not be 'willful' violators, if so determined, of the law. These are quite relevant given the position Twitch was in and most certainly so with Justin.TV.

As far as cutting costs in regard to server assets - last I'd heard that was not a crime and it's entirely feasible, irrespective of what Twitch.TV said, that Googles influence was heavy upon their shoulders if not verbatim than in intimation of things that need to be done to facilitate the worst kept secret in technology - acquisition by Google.

Lastly, these could be such intimations by Google that Google benefits from having Twitch.TV implement prior to purchase. Google can step back and watch how it effects various metrics with TWitch.TV. Consumers are quite 'flighty' these days and loyalty, in all but rare cases (e.g. Apple) is often short-lived if consumers feel at all slighted. If Twitch is impacted there's no risk to Google - if Twitch is not impacted by these changes, which they will not be, than that's all good for Google.But the idea that Twitch had to implement these changes because of risks to running in the red is rather silly and does not mesh with any of the known data we have available to us as consumers. 
Maybe Twitch realised that all Google was going to do was to move everyone over to Youtube Streaming and wind up twitch?

Now they refused the deal, and are making changes to be shake everyone awake, and rejuvinate themselves in the market?
+Phil Iovino I wouldn't trust that that description though showing "just an image" certainly wont get you in any trouble, and would be well covered by fair use. Ditto for reviewing, and mostly for parodying too. People can get a little too worried about this stuff too easily.
Where the line is drawn inbetween is tricky, but its unlikely Google has put in a special system just for Nintendo, so I suspect its just like sticking a clip from any TV show in. I have had many content ID flags overturned after I sent a polite note explaining its just a clip and the context. It normally takes a few weeks, however. 
Its interesting ethically though - we put a full movie online its illegal, is not a letsplay the same thing? Does it depend on the game? Story based or action based? Commentary makes it a directive work of sorts...but then theres raw letsplays out there too with very little commentary. How much enjoyment comes from watching vs playing? When does a extended advert replace the experienced?

I can see both sides of the issue here in general. Although in Nintendo's case it doesn't make any sense as they have very few games that are really narrative based to start with. Watching mario and zelda is hardly playing it. 
ANother thought I had was that maybe because they were in the news they were threatened with legal stuff from the media industry like Music shitheads and gaming companies.

But it also sounds like they are making room on their servers from old VODS for sure.

Besides. If you really want to keep these VODS then you should download them yourselvs IMHO> Twitch was doing it for free effectively before. Now you have to pay for it, or download it and store it yourself.
S Shum
Lots of saved content has music on them, google content ID flagging going crazy perhaps?
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