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Amazon, Twitch Under Fire from RIAA, Major Industry Groups for Using Unlicensed Music

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Amazon’s streaming platform Twitch is under intense backlash from RIAA, the Recording Academy, and other major industry groups for using unlicensed music, according to Variety.

Per the report, along with the aforementioned, the National Music Publishers Association, the Music Managers Forum, the American Association of Independent Music, SAG-AFTRA and more than a dozen others collaborated on a letter sent to Twitch and their owner Amazon slamming them for their lack of licensing deals with many major music rights-holders.

The letter was reportedly addressed to Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos, with Twitch CEO Emmet Shear on copy, and was obtained by Variety.

According to the report, the letter accuses Twitch of failing to secure proper synch and mechanical licenses for its recently launched Soundtrack tool, as well as “allowing and enabling its streamers to use our respective members’ music without authorization, in violation of Twitch’s music guidelines,” in addition to a number of other claims.

“Twitch appears to do nothing in response to the thousands of notices of music infringement that it has received nor does it currently even acknowledge that it received them, as it has done in the past,” the letter states.

Per Variety:

“We represent artists, songwriters, musicians, vocalists, managers, producers, audio engineers, major and independent labels and publishers, and many other professionals in all genres of music in the United States,” the letter begins. “We read with interest Twitch’s recent announcement regarding its Soundtrack tool.  According to Twitch, this tool gives Twitch’s users the ability to feature a curated library of licensed music in their live streams.[1] We appreciate that Twitch has acknowledged that it is good business to offer licensed music for use by its streamers, and we welcome that Twitch has started to enter into some agreements with rightsholders to provide licensed music for use by its streamers.

“However, we are confounded by Twitch’s apparent stance that neither synch nor mechanical licenses are necessary for its Soundtrack tool.  We are also deeply disappointed that Twitch continues to allow and enable its streamers to use our respective members’ music without authorization, in violation of Twitch’s music guidelines.[2]  We are further concerned that Twitch continues to host and widely make available unlicensed music on its platform despite the company’s announcements, most recently in June 2020, that it would remove such unlicensed music.[3]  Twitch appears to do nothing in response to the thousands of notices of music infringement that it has received nor does it currently even acknowledge that it received them, as it has done in the past.”

“Further,” the letter continues, “we are concerned by your responses to questions regarding licensing made during the House Judiciary Committee hearing on July 29, 2020.  We note that you failed to confirm whether Twitch has acquired any licenses to make copies of musical compositions or digital performances of any sound recordings on your platform.  You also failed to state what action Twitch is taking to prevent unauthorized copies and performances.

“Twitch’s neglect of the fundamental rights of musicians, songwriters, sound recording artists, and many others whose music is exploited on Twitch without due compensation stands in stark contrast to Twitch’s competitors and to the support of such interests extended by Amazon’s own Amazon Music services.”

“As Twitch uses music to grow its audience and shape its brand, the company owes creators more than the willful blindness and vague platitudes you offered during your Congressional testimony.  For working songwriters and performers, fair royalties on a growing platform like Twitch can literally be a matter of life and death – the difference between having a place to live and homelessness and having access to health care or being uninsured.  For others it’s the difference between being able to work as an artist or having to give up a lifetime of dreams.”

The letter was signed by:

American Association of Independent Music
Americana Music Association
Artist Rights Alliance
Church Music Publishers’ Association
Christian Music Trade Association
Global Music Rights
Gospel Music Association
International Bluegrass Music Association
Living Legends Foundation
Music Managers’ Forum – US
Nashville Songwriters Association International
National Music Publishers’ Association
Recording Academy
Recording Industry Association of America
Rhythm & Blues Foundation
SAG-AFTRA
Songwriters of North America
SoundExchange

 

 

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