The Implications of “Disable Copyrighted Music” Features

Disable Copyrighted Music - Featured Image

The Trend

A recent trend I have noticed is the ever-increasing presence of features to disable copyrighted music and content that could take a streamer’s channel down. From Life is Strange 2 to the new Cyberpunk 2077, most new AAA games using licensed music allow you to be free of the headaches of dealing with DMCA and copyright strikes.

While having fewer worries in the extremely shifty world of online streaming and video platforms is a nice thing, such as mass DMCA bloodbaths or being struck for songs you didn’t play, I fear the rise of “disable copyrighted music” buttons (along with suggestions from streaming services to mute in-game audio) will pave the ground for workarounds around the system rather than directly addressing its issues and alleviating them. These fears crystalize in two main points.

Life is Strange 2 Screenshot - Merrill's Pot Farm

Transfer of Blame

When a rightsholder strikes your gameplay footage with a DMCA strike, they are usually blamed for the overzealous protection of their music. That might not be the case soon, as the blame could be shifted to the streamer for not taking advantage of the handy copyright-free toggle.

I worry what this button would mean for strikes made for ridiculous circumstances (such as recording two seconds of a licensed song being played from a car that just zoomed past your character). There is a chance that nobody will be able to contest such strikes because of the potential idea that a streamer’s refusal to avoid such troubles by turning on the buttons they’ve been given is worse than the strike itself being unreasonable.

Copyrighted Music Buttons - Cyberpunk 2077

Game Industry Approval

The other sucky deal with the feature is the implied approval from the AAA game industry at large for copyright antics. Rather than taking a neutral stance and maybe rarely sending a PR statement to disapprove of such abuses, they decided to sell a workaround that makes the videogame streaming experience worse while enabling rightsholders to not hold their fire.

In Conclusion

Overall, I think these buttons are not the best solution to the frequent DMCA strikes for playing licensed music in a video game. They worsen the situation by not letting any licensed music play in the first place, and if a streamer dares to let them play then they have little to no excuse in these scenarios.

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