By Matt Binder
A fake copyright infringement claim resulted in the removal of some of Twitch’s biggest political channels.
On Tuesday night, a number of popular left-leaning Twitch streamers found their channels shut down during their livestream coverage of the South Carolina Democratic Primary Debate.
The streamers who were issued a ban include Chapo Trap House, The Majority Report, The Serfs, Bad Bunny, Trihex, David Pakman, Mike from PA, Central Planning Committee, 27 Dollars, The Progressive Voice, and Justin Young. All these channels provide explicitly progressive or leftist commentary streams. (Disclosure: The author of this piece formerly worked at The Majority Report.)
Tens of thousands of viewers were following along with the debate across these Twitch channels.
I and many other partnered @Twitch streamers were just banned with DMCA strikes for broadcasting transformative content of the presidential debates.
These were *fake* strikes issued by a domain created 2 weeks ago.
Twitch offers NO protection for streamers here. This is absurd. pic.twitter.com/BiUZSp9Uyt
— BadBunny (Nicole) 🌹 (@BadBunnyTwitch) February 26, 2020
According to the message issued by the streaming platform, a copyright strike was levied on the streamers on behalf of CBS News, the host of the night’s debate. The claimant, however, was not CBS, but a company called Praxis Political Legal.
After researching the firm, the Twitch streamers were unconvinced that Praxis Political Legal actually represented CBS News and concluded these were fraudulent copyright claims.
Twitch, the popular gaming livestream platform owned by Amazon, confirmed to Mashable on Wednesday that an investigation into the claims deemed they were false.
“Twitch’s investigation has determined that the alleged copyright infringement notices directed to channels from Praxis Political are false. Twitch is reinstating access to each account and removing any strike attributed to a channel in connection with the notice, effective immediately. We regret that a false notice from a 3rd party disrupted any of our streamers and appreciate all who alerted us to the concerns about Praxis Political. The safety of our community is a top priority and it is unacceptable to target folks with false claims. The investigation continues as to the actor that submitted the notices.”
It’s not unusual for big brands and major corporations to work with a third-party firm to file DMCA takedown requests. However, the affected streamers quickly noticed something was strange this time around.
For starters, Praxis Political Legal’s domain name was registered just a little over two weeks ago. The domain name forwarded to a free website creation service, Carrd.co, where a bare-bones website was set up. The site contained little to no information about the firm, only providing vague descriptions of the services it offered, along with a contact page that offered no contact information.
“Praxis protects our clients’ work and content in a heavily competitive, and sometimes ugly, marketplace,” stated the Praxis Political Legal website before it was deleted on Wednesday.
But it’s the platforms, like Twitch and YouTube, that provide the backend abilities for these companies and firms to issue DMCA takedowns and copyright strikes in real time, with little to no oversight.
“It seems to be a very, very low bar,” said Lance from in a phone call with Mashable on Wednesday. “All they needed to do is set up a shell company website on a free website generator,” he continued. “They didn’t even need a real email.”
The punishment from Twitch for his channel, The Serfs, was a 24-hour ban, said Lance. That punishment was different for other streamers, varying based on how many previous copyright strikes each had. At least two streamers were facing a lifetime ban from Twitch based on this fraudulent claim.
“These were all political channels that were all open Bernie Sanders supporters as well,” explained Lance. “That was the only common thread. Well, it was the only common thread I could find. What is the connection between all the ones that got taken down?”
As of now, it’s unclear who exactly was behind the fraudulent copyright claim. Twitch says its investigation is ongoing. Mashable has followed up with Twitch in an effort to find out more information about Praxis Political Legal and how this fake group was granted copyright claim privileges on its platform.