updated 10:00 pm EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
Apologies issued for surprise changes, some clarification added on audio recognition
[Updated with Twitch VOD highlight and appeal change] Twitch CEO Emmett Shear did an "ask me anything" Q-n-A on Reddit today, fielding numerous questions over the recent changes that the game-streaming service underwent this week. While Shear confirmed information on most of the changes that had already taken place, he did try to reassure users that the moves were done with a purpose.
Shear placed emphasis on the fact that videos on demand (VOD) would be the only videos to be subjected to the audio screening from Audible Magic. He stated that Twitch has "absolutely no intention of running any audio recognition against live video, period." Shear reiterated this fact several times during the course of the question session.
He did also repeat something that was originally said in the change announcement, that false positives can and do occur. In fact in videos for Valve's The International, crowd noises falsely triggered the system. However, it is clarified that the audio scanning isn't meant to mute in-game music unless it's licensed music being used within a title. Shear states this was unclear in the blog post that announced audio changes. The company is looking into reducing the muted chunks down from the 30-minute duration that is currently being seen.
Only songs that are in Audible Magic's database should be running into audio muting. If there is a video that is being muted in error, it's suggested that owners reach out to Twitch. However, it is unknown how well an email would work, in spite of Shear stating that only 13 links were reported so far, since the policy change stated a claim that conforms to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act would need to be filed. It's estimated by Twitch that only two percent of videos are impacted by the audio recognition mutes.
People seemed less upset by the changes to the storage of videos, with most users raising issue with the two-hour limit compared to the audio issues. Shear stated that Twitch examined the system to find that "almost no highlights were longer than two hours." However, it's believed that Twitch still has some changes to make as the demand for the system was underestimated. Shear points out Twitch has three weeks to address that.
Shear said that the changes were done, not for a preemptive move for a merger (as had been rumored), but rather to protect Twitch users and improve the service. Stating that music broadcasts don't qualify as fair use, Twitch wanted to do something to keep its users, and itself, from taking on any liability. As for the other question on the mind of the people, concerning the possible purchase by Google, Shear stated that he cannot comment on it. He did promise a blog post with updates to system changes soon.
When asked why notification wasn't given prior to the recent changes in Twitch and other parts of the company Sheer provided a blunt answer: "Simply put: We screwed up and should have announced it ahead of time. Sorry."
After the Reddit session, Twitch posted that some changes are being introduced to the VOD system based on feedback. The company said that effective immediately, limits would be removed from highlight videos. Highlights will retain their ability to be saved indefinitely. To combat videos being muted for copyrighted music by the recognition system, an appeal button would be added for VODs to allow video owners to fight the flagging more easily.
"We recognize that the system is not yet perfect," said Vice President of Marketing and Communications Matthew DiPietro. "We want to make this system as fair and unobtrusive as possible, and we greatly appreciate your help."