Pokimane and xQc revealed last night that their Twitter accounts were locked in response to false DMCA claims.
Both streamers claimed that the content they were punished for was owned by them. The clip that locked xQc’s account came from his own stream, according to the former Overwatch League pro. Pokimane said her account was locked for a TikTok she made to the song “Say So” and a tweet that said “I love girls.”
Both cases appear to be, at least on the surface, examples of DMCA takedown abuse. People who don’t own the copyright on the content were seemingly able to file complaints and have Twitter take disciplinary action against aboveboard creators. This is concerning since it indicates that Twitter may not be doing its due diligence to protect creators on the platform from unjustified copyright harassment.
DMCA stands for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. The DMCA is a U.S. law that was created in 1998 that attempts to address copyright infringement online. A key aspect of the DMCA is that platforms like Twitter, YouTube, or Twitch have limited liability for copyright infringement on their sites as long as they set up systems to enforce copyright laws. This is where DMCA claims come in.
DMCA claims are supposed to protect the correct owner of copyrighted material by giving them the ability to file a takedown notice when someone steals their content. But if those complaints aren’t properly vetted by the platform, DMCA claims can be heavily abused. Bogus copyright claims have been an ongoing issue on user-generated content platforms like YouTube and Twitch for a while now.
YouTube has faced criticism for its automated copyright system and its appeal process. Many creators over the past few years have reported being demonetized or receiving copyright strikes on their videos even though they didn’t violate anyone’s copyrighted materials. In some cases, the abuse is resolved. But in other cases, creators are unduly punished despite not violating anyone else’s intellectual property rights.
Twitch has also recently come under fire over their handling of the DMCA. The company failed to enforce content restrictions for years but suddenly started enforcing DMCA in 2020 with little warning. Many creators were forced to delete their entire library of videos due to the presence of copyrighted music and felt blindsided by Twitch after the site gave them few options for culling their library of copyrighted content beyond blanket deleting their libraries.
Now it appears that the false DMCA issue that YouTube has been dealing with may be coming to Twitter. Despite being two huge, verified creators on Twitter, xQc and Pokimane weren’t safe from bogus claims. If instances of DMCA abuse become widespread on the platform, Twitter will have to address the issues with their claim process to protect creators from being harassed by copyright trolls.