Twitch played host to Metallica during Friday's BlizzConline opening ceremony, and while viewers on the official stream enjoyed a rendition of the band's classic "For Whom the Bell Tolls," anyone watching on the Twitch Gaming channel heard a very different song.
Twitch's Metallica DMCA Debacle
Rather than risk DMCA action against it, Twitch censored Metallica's heavy metal for some decidedly softer, remarkably inert, and most importantly, copyright-free instrumentals. The censoring music played overall but the first few seconds of Metallica's performance, creating a jarring and, frankly, hilarious transition.
The incident highlighted the ongoing struggle around playing licensed music on Twitch. DMCA takedown notices continue to plague streamers who use the website, as their VODs are automatically flagged, threatening their livelihood regardless of whether or not the music is being used legally.
Although it may sound ridiculous for a record company to issue a DMCA takedown over an officially sanctioned performance, Twitch decided not to risk it, neutering the broadcast before the risk of trouble entered the equation.
That Metallica stands at the center of this debacle is noteworthy, even somewhat ironic. The band is famous for suing Napster for copyright infringement in the early 2000s, ultimately paving the way for the DMCA as it currently stands.