Not many streamers have the determination and financial means to take on the behemoth that is the International Olympic Committee. However, if there is a streamer to do it, it’s xQc.
Félix “xQc” Lengyel, on July 27th, watched a clip live on his Twitch channel of a badminton match from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. The following day, Twitch banned xQc for two days for playing copyrighted material owned by the International Olympics Committee (IOC). However, in xQc fashion, he didn’t take the DMCA copyright takedown lightly. After fighting back against the DMCA takedown, he was able to lift the ban in just four hours and 55 minutes.
xQc’s argument for fair use
The way it works, if the content is transformative (content that adds something new to the original media, creating a new purpose or meaning behind the work), it’s under fair use. xQc claims his Olympic stream falls under fair use because of his commentary on the clips.
The IOC pushed back, stating the not only did xQc infringe on its copyright and broadcast partners’ exclusivity, but it also could result in a rift in its relationship with broadcast partners. There’s been a consistent decline in Olympic viewership over the years, partly because younger people are less interested in the Olympics, as statistics show their age block is lower than previous generations.
Noting that decline, it’s more important than ever for the IOC and its broadcast partners to hold onto as many eyes as possible. So, streamers like xQc, who alone pulls in 50,000 viewers on average, poses a real threat. If xQc continues to push back against the DMCA takedown, the IOC may sue the streamer, though it might just want to let this incident go and move on from the controversy.
Though xQc was only blocked for just under five hours, with Twitch reversing the ban on July 28th, xQc says it should have never happened in the first place because his content is transformative.
Copyright infringement and DMCA takedowns have been a recent issue on Twitch and continues to be a massive problem. Twitch doesn’t specifically outline what counts as transformative content. However, it does state that parodies or commentary on newsworthy events may be fair use.
Currently, there’s no reliable way for creators to know what falls under fair use. Even when creators are certain something is fair use, their videos and streams are taken down from including copyrighted material, such as channels dedicated to teaching music theory. This incident highlights an ongoing problem not just happening to Twitch creators but also to creators on all online platforms.