NEW Twitch Music Rules Explained – DMCA vs NMPA

Twitch’s DMCA enforcement has been a thorn in the side of streamers for a long, long time. What does the new NMPA agreement mean for streamers?

NEW Twitch Music Rules Explained – DMCA vs NMPA

Twitch’s DMCA enforcement has been a thorn in the side of streamers for a long, long time. They’re there for a good reason, and creators always deserve credit for their music, but incidental infractions and accidental copyright infringements have caused so many creators unnecessary punishment.

A screenshot of text sent by Twitch, announcing their new music licensing agreement.
The opening of the NMPA agreement announcement from Twitch.

Now, that’s all changing, and Twitch is moving from their old DMCA agreement to a new one with the National Music Publishers’ Association, or NMPA. This new deal will change some things for Twitch streamers, but it’s still slightly unclear what Twitch’s new terms will mean for creators.

I’ll go over the two agreements, what we know about them already, and what still remains to be seen.

The New NMPA Agreement

On 9/21/21, Twitch officially announced to members that they had successfully reached a new agreement for their music copyright protection service, this time with the NMPA, rather than the DMCA.

A side-by-side comparison of the old DMCA agreement and the new NMPA agreement.

According to Twitch, the new agreement was reached with the primary purpose of being more lenient with creators, issuing warnings when terms are violated instead of penalizing streamers for minor or inadvertent violations. It's unclear precisely when rights holders will be able to report violations through the NMPA process and when the agreement change will take effect.

Here’s what Twitch says will happen when copyright infringement reports are issued, under the new NMPA agreement:

  1. Reports are reviewed and “checked for completeness.”
  2. A warning is issued for VODs and Clips that contain unauthorized music, so streamers can correct their violations.
  3. For “flagrant music uses,” like rebroadcasting live shows or leaking unreleased music, Twitch may issue warnings and penalties to creators, in addition to removing their content. Twitch notes that there will be more information regarding these details of the update soon.

What does this mean for Twitch streamers?

Essentially, you probably won’t have to worry quite as much about unauthorized music usage on your stream, as long as it’s not an extreme violation. Twitch won’t automatically penalize you or issue strikes without warning you first. Your VODs and Clips that receive verified NMPA reports will still be removed when you get your warning, though. For this reason, make sure you download any VODs or Clips ahead of time if you think they have a bit of copyrighted music in them.

A screenshot of a DMCA violation message from Twitch.

That being said, you probably shouldn’t expect a world of change to come from this new agreement. Like the DMCA agreement, the new NMPA deal will also cover all copyrighted music usage, and the focus of the agreement is to keep all streamers from broadcasting music that they don’t have the rights to. You won’t be punished as harshly, but there’s no reason to believe that Twitch won’t come after creators who violate the new agreement any less frequently than before.

How can I avoid NMPA strikes?

You should plan to avoid music license infractions the exact same way as before, and just expect lower stakes for small slip-ups. The best way to do so is to make sure you’re only using license-free music when you stream, and to be especially careful with content you plan on keeping as VODs or Clips. As long as you know where to look, finding high-quality royalty-free music tracks that fit your stream’s vibe is simple.

A graphic showcasing four different sites for royalty-free music: Streambeats, Bensound, Thematic, and Kapwing.

License-free playlists like StreamBeats are popular among Twitch streamers, and video programs like the Kapwing Studio include built-in royalty-free music libraries that can be used to add license-free tracks directly to your stream assets and content that you play on stream or post on other social media platforms. I recommend looking through the top royalty-free music sites on the web to find which platform fits your stream the best.

The new NMPA agreement should be far more streamer-friendly than the harsh creator environment under the DMCA, but streamers still need to be very vigilant. For more tips and tutorials on creating great video content in 2021, check out the Kapwing YouTube channel or read through some related articles on Twitch:

How to Make a Twitch Channel Trailer
How to Turn Twitch Clips Into YouTube Shorts
How to Make Your Own Twitch Emotes for Free
How to Make Twitch Screens