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Twitch, Blizzcon, Metallica and the nonsense of the DMCA

If you are following BlizzCon 2021 (AKA BlizzConline), either online through Twitch or in any other way, you will already know all the announcements that occurred at its opening, and since you are interested in the event, it is most likely that you already you are waiting for the arrival of any of the announced titles, especially Diablo IV or the remastering of Diablo II, of which there had already been leaks previously. You may also know that the guest stars of the opening were Metallica (I find it quite ironic, I will clarify it later), and that they played for the online broadcast of the great Blizzard convention.

As I said before, one of the options to follow the events of BlizzCon 2021 is Twitch, the popular video streaming platform that became so popular last year, due both to the large number of youtubers who decided to make the leap to this platform, as well as professionals from other areas who, affected by the pandemic and confinement, decided try out live broadcasts on Twitch as a way to earn extra income. Renowned comedians, musicians, journalists and even athletes made the leap to streaming for the pleasure of their followers.

2020 was a very peculiar year for Twitch. On the one hand its popularity and, consequently, their numbers, experienced a great growth, that is, precisely what online platforms aspire to. Seen from this perspective, it was a successful year. However, and due to the added pressure from copyright managers and some rather questionable decisions, 2020 will also be remembered on Twitch as the year of the loss of innocence when it comes to copyright.

From the storm of warnings to the streamers, Twitch has taken some steps to help streamers, such as the creation of Soundtrack by Twitch, a selection of music that authors can use in their live shows without having to worry about copyright. However, despite this, the rights managers have not lowered their pressure on the platform, which they assume is a rather lax attitude regarding the protection of their interests

This situation, which is undoubtedly complicated for the platform, has nevertheless led to actions and situations somewhat absurd, for which one is not entirely clear who to blame: Twitch? Rights managers? improvisation? I suppose it will be a bit of each part, pulling the proverb, between all they killed her and she alone died. Although in this case, rather than death, we have to speak of ridicule.

As I mentioned at the beginning, these days BlizzCon 2021 is being celebrated, and one of the strengths of its opening event was the performance of Metallica, a highly anticipated moment of the broadcast that, by surprise, was somewhat distorted. Why? Because to avoid a claim based on the DMCA Twitch replaced the sound of the performance with music that, well, being generous I can say that it did not quite fit, as you can see in this YouTube video (video on demand for the stream has been removed from Twitch).

As familiar as I am with meme culture, I confess that I would never have imagined Metallica playing to the beat of something similar to Animal Crossing, and that there is no doubt that the band of Ulrich and Hetfield has loosened a lot since the days of Fight fire with fire. I will not say that what he does now is pop, of course, but the days of metal are behind us, and that his immediate future may have something to do with the piece chosen by Twitch to “resonate” his live show is not entirely unreasonable to me.

Joking aside, I’d be surprised to be the only one who thinks this is ridiculous. A lot of. The fundraising effort of the fund managers is the best example of the sucking power of black holes, and on the other hand, the substitution of live music for a theme more typical of Nintendo (with all my respect and affection) than of a rock band, seems to me a clear sign of headless improvisation by Twitch. And that it happens precisely with Metallica, the band with which the claims and massive complaints based on the DMCA were inaugurated seems significant to me (and that is what I was referring to at the beginning).

What sense does it make for Blizzard to make a substantial financial investment to have Metallica at an event, if then platforms like Twitch they can be forced to silence that direct to avoid a problem with the managers? I remember, to make matters worse, that as its name suggests, BlizzConline is held exclusively online. And how is it that Twitch did not take into account that this could happen, I either managed it a priori with the managers or, at least, did not prepare a slightly more appropriate background music?

The word nonsense falls short and, although it has given us a sensational meme, it is actually something that should make all parties reflect, because in the end what happened can be defined with a single word: ridiculous.