You know the story. Google buys YouTube, applies copyright crackdowns on music. Google buys Twitch, the same inevitably happens.
The streaming website is now employing Audible Magic, which scans videos on demand for unlicensed music owned or controlled by Audible Magic clients. According to the Twitch blog, “This includes in-game and ambient music. When music in the Audible Magic database is detected (“Flagged Content”), the affected portion of the VOD will be muted and volume controls for that VOD will be turned off. Additionally, past broadcasts and highlights with Flagged Content are exportable but will remain muted.”
Many Twitch users are outraged, calling for boycotts and looking for streaming alternatives. With all the negative publicity swarming the industry’s largest streaming service, Twitch’s competitors are seizing the moment and welcoming disgruntled users with open arms.
Hitbox in particular is working around the clock to usher in Twitch refugees:
— hitbox (@hitboxlive) August 7, 2014
Welcome newcomers to #hitboxlive! Don't forget: Every partner on hitbox still gets a sub button!
— hitbox (@hitboxlive) August 6, 2014
The company has also employed Reddit to spread its message of mute-free service, posting “hitbox.tv – the only viable option to Twitch“. User seriousownsya, an employee of Hitbox has been perusing the thread, giving commenters assurance and points of persuasion:
“We actually still need a lot of people we are a small team and trying to manage the thing as best as possible! So we have a bunch of experience sitting here with scaling technologies and scaling business models. Our low delay is one of the most important things for us! of course everyone has to make changes and compromises while growing, but we are very confident that we can scale up the technology while maintaining the perks our users love!”
“we take care of copyrighted stuff on a case-to-case basis, we will not implement an automated system that removes or censors stuff, and we will fight until the final hour to give our broadcasters and viewers as much freedom as possible.”
A plethora of tweets and Reddit posts from the company have been less than subtle, but Hitbox have enjoyed an extreme increase in users.
We're looking into issues currently affecting the site. We've had a major influx of new users.
— hitbox Support (@hitboxliveHelp) August 6, 2014
With many Twitch users looking for a new home, Hitbox is doing everything it can to make the transition smoother. They’ve provided a request form for freeing up user names, and are working to improve their site load capabilities.
It will be curious to see if Hitbox remains a popular alternative, or if the influx is just a temporary Twitch boycott. We may see Twitch lighten up on their copyright crackdown, though it’s unlikely given YouTube’s ongoing efforts to eliminate unlicensed music. More likely, Twitch will refine their muting system, and provide an appeals service.