updated 09:30 pm EDT, Wed August 6, 2014
VOD changes remove indefinite storage, music being muted due to copyright
Gaming broadcasting service Twitch was quick to issue some changes of its own, a day after the company decided to shut down its original product, Justin.tv. In what the company is calling necessary changes, Twitch will be changing the way it handles video-on-demand (VOD) and the audio within videos. The changes are significant compared to many others the company has made, as Twitch is removing permanent video saves and handing off audio copyright policing to a third party.
The news came in two announcements today, the first of which outlined the changes in the VOD system. Twitch claims that the system needed to be overhauled to compensate for its expanding offerings. The company found that videos are rarely watched past the first 14 days, creating a burden on storage. Currently, it's said that 80 percent of the storage is full of videos that are never watched. Video highlights, however, are watched nine times more than old broadcasts.
In a move to update and change the VOD system, Twitch is updating the system. A number of changes are coming in the first stage, like triple-redundant storage for broadcasts, easier exporting of highlights, and extending the rolling storage from three to 14 days. Twitch partners and Turbo subscribers get 60 days of rolling storage.
The new services don't come without a price, however, as it means that videos can no longer be saved indefinitely. Twitch points out this isn't a matter of cutting down on storage costs, as it will actually have to increase storage to meet the redundant storage feature. Highlights will continue to retain the ability to be saved indefinitely, but will have their duration limited to two hours maximum. Users will have three weeks to save old broadcasts, or create highlights with the new video manager. Otherwise, they will be removed from Twitch's servers.
While the VOD change will certainly impact some heavy users, a change in how audio is being policed in VODs is something that will affect all Twitch streamers. Twitch announced a partnership with Audible Magic, which will cause audio from Audible Magic's clients to be muted in videos. Any audio, which extends to ambient music and in-game music, can be muted. If a Twitch user exports or downloads a video that has been flagged for copyrighted music, the exported copy will retain the muted portions.
Audible Magic scans for music in 30 minute blocks, meaning that if any music is found to belong to its clients, the entire block will be muted. When a viewer runs across a muted portion of video, a notification pop-up appears. The video bar also turns red to indicate the muted block.
The idea that the muting extends to in-game audio is going to lead to a mass of silent videos. As the filtering has already begun, some of Twitch's own company-made videos have already been muted by the process. To say that Twitch users are unhappy by the change is an understatement, based on the number of comments on the post, as well as a slew of statements on Twitter.
Twitch also appears to be pushing the violations off of itself and onto users. Users are responsible for obtaining any rights to music on their own, but it still doesn't mean it won't be muted. In order to reverse any audio blocks, users need to file a counter-notification that conforms to Digital Millennium Copyright Act standards. Distancing itself further, but indicating it isn't giving up its rights, Twitch says that the filtering of content is being done on a voluntary basis and takes on no liability for videos stored.
Both moves, when combined with the closure of Justin.tv, could indicate that there is something going on over Twitch. The game streaming service isn't foreign to copyright claims, but taking this sort of stance is similar to the Content ID approach that Google has taken with YouTube. It could also suggest that Twitch is taking steps to remove legal hurdles in the way of a possible purchase by Google.