“Livestream within the law”: how social networks restrict the use of music, and what it leads to

4 min


As you probably noticed, problems with video hosting and bans on social media are becoming more and more tangible. Not only presidents of countries are blocked, but also ordinary musicians and streamers. The latter are faced with such difficulties much more often than a couple of years ago. Even now, when the world lives in a “semi-closed offline” mode, social networks do not offer users additional ways to earn money from creative activities and published content. On the contrary, they systematically “tighten the screws” and introduce new rules. This time, the controversy surrounding the “legalization” of background music is gaining sharpness: a number of large venues have taken up the regulation of this aspect and offered the audience their own libraries of audio tracks as an alternative.

We discuss the situation and tell you how the content makers and their subscribers reacted.

Photo: Chris Panas. Source: Unsplash.com
Photo: Chris Panas. Source: Unsplash.com

Indiscriminately

Despite the fact that social networks and media platforms are investing hundreds of millions in the development of “smart” algorithms, they still remain imperfect… And it’s not only about recommendation systems, but also about service systems – those that monitor user audio and video recordings. Such “bots” usually analyze tracks uploaded by labels, and then highlight similar fragments in user-generated content – looking for materials that violate copyright. However, controversial points in their work are encountered quite often.

Recently, performers of classical music have encountered them. Last year, the American ensemble Camerata Pacifica on a page in the social network broadcast “Kegelstatt Trio»Mozart. For musicians, this was one of the few ways to earn money in the spring and summer quarantine. But a few minutes after the start of the stream, the broadcast blocked… Algorithms found a fragment in the recording, the rights to which belong to the studio Naxos of America – although the work of Mozart has long been considered the public domain. Most likely we are talking about a comparison with another performance – a team that just collaborates with this label. There are many such situations – a composer from Baltimore, who plays in the Columbia Orchestra, was similarly blocked. Last May he streamed a Beethoven sonata live, but his performance was stopped.

Photo: Ben Hershey. Source: Unsplash.com
Photo: Ben Hershey. Source: Unsplash.com

For the most part, streaming services do not have mechanisms to quickly resolve a conflict situation. Content makers are forced to contact technical support – for example, the head of the musical group Camerata Pacifica corresponded with the specialists of the social network about six hours, but sometimes this process takes weeks.

However, the platforms are in no hurry to change something and enter into an open dialogue with the audience. They just continue to “tighten the screws”, and only a major scandal pushes them to communicate.

New rules

At the center of one such scandal was the streaming service Twitch. Last year, the venue decided to tighten its music policy. By request major labels company start delete clips with licensed compositions (before, she only muffled the sound in them). Service also demanded hide videos that violate copyright from users, but did not provide appropriate tools for finding violations.

At the same time, representatives of the site advised For streamers, turn off the sound in the game settings to prevent strikes. Naturally, content makers called the recommendation absurd (since the sound is an one of the key elements of the gaming experience) and accused the company of shifting responsibility to users. As a protest, some streamers began to play in complete silence, while others, on the contrary, simulate sounds voice.

Photo: Oleksandr Kurchev. Source: Unsplash.com
Photo: Oleksandr Kurchev. Source: Unsplash.com

Twitch is currently trying to find a solution to the problem. At the end of last year, the company launched own Soundtrack music library with approved indie tracks. The partner labels already include MonsterCat, Chillhop Music, SoundCloud. But while the service criticize for a small library, the inability to form playlists and poor search.

Other social networks are also dealing with unfair blocking. In particular, many companies have refreshed their recommendations for working with music content. Facebook representatives advise not to use more tracks on the record – this approach will reduce the number of false positives of the content recognition system. At the same time, the social network proposes users to select music for videos and streams in the library Sound Collection – there are thousands of tracks that you can work with without restrictions.

Another option is to consult other acoustic libraries with tracks and samples licensed under Creative Commons. Working with such audio recordings will avoid problems with algorithms at all sites, including YouTube. We talked about some of these resources in our selections – they are available in our “Hi-Fi World”:

What’s next

In general, social media companies can be expected to continue tightening the screws on music content. In this direction, they will be pushed by regulators, which are gradually tightening legislation in the field of piracy around the world.

At the end of 2020 in the USA started discussing Amendment to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). If approved in its current form, then even unlicensed use of a music track in a video could become a criminal offense. Following this logic, sites will be able to impose even tighter restrictions on the content of their rules.


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