Non-profit trade group the Artist Rights Alliance (ARA) sent a letter Monday to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos questioning his testimony to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee on July 29, about the use of unlicensed music on the company’s Twitch live streaming service. The answer from Bezos was part of the House Judiciary Committee’s hearing on tech and antitrust, which included leaders Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Google CEO Sundar Pichai, and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
When asked by Rep. Kelly Armstrong (R-ND) if Twitch allowed content creators to stream music without licensing it, Bezos responded, “I’m going to have to ask that I could get back to your office with an answer to that question. I don’t know.”
In a letter sent to Bezos Monday (and posted on Medium.com), ARA Board Member Tift Merritt called on Amazon to do better.
“Jeff Bezos could not answer to Congress if Amazon’s Twitch live streaming service permitted its users to post unlicensed music. The music artists create is not only sacred in spirit and deserving respect — it also merits fair pay,” Tift wrote.
Twitch content creators are often caught between rights holders and the Amazon-owned platform because Twitch typically generates Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) takedowns, which content creators must comply with by either censoring or deleting any content containing copyrighted music. Twitch also began a process this year where it hands out DMCA strikes based on scans of clips during live streams for copyrighted music and deletes what it deems to contain unlicensed music. Generally, the company requires that content creators only use music they have licensed, as per its community guidelines on music.
The letter goes on to say that Bezos should answer the question posed by Congress, and if the answer is “yes” he should do more to provide solutions:
“If the answer is ‘yes’ we further ask you to explain what you are doing or plan to do to proactively stop that from happening and ensure that artists and songwriters are paid fair market value for the work when it is performed on Twitch.”
The Artist Rights Alliance is a non-profit alliance of “working musicians, performers, and songwriters fighting for a healthy creative economy and fair treatment for all creators in the digital world.”
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