Video-game voyeurism has become a big business. Which is probably why YouTube (Google's online video platform) wants to buy the upstart videogame streaming service Twitch for a cool $1 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal. But some fans of the service think the potential acquisition may end up ruining the experience.
Twitch viewers and broadcasters say they fear that YouTube’s strict copyright infringement policy may end up forcing takedowns of videos that allegedly feature copyrighted music and in-game footage.
“YouTube’s enforcement of the DMCA, which is vociferous, is highly sympathetic towards the accuser,” said Richard Lewis, the editor-in-chief of Esports Heaven, a news site that covers the electronic sports industry. Lewis believes Twitch broadcasters might share the fate of many YouTube users who have had to go through a long and convoluted process of reinstating their channels after receiving erroneous or malicious reports—such as copyright infringement—missing out on revenue they depend on for their livelihood.
Of course, Twitch is subject to the same copyright laws that YouTube is, but Twitch's policy is to only look into streams at the behest of legal rightsholders, while YouTube automatically monitors content.
Twitch has seen its user base explode to 45 million unique monthly viewers in just three years, surpassing companies such as Hulu or Amazon as a source of Internet traffic during peak times. An acquisition of Twitch would effectively allow YouTube to monopolize the growing market of video games as a spectator sport.