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Facebook extends its music licences to livestreaming gamers


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Twitch has been fielding a barrage of copyright takedowns in recent months from music rightsholders keen to prod it into platform-wide licensing deals. Now Facebook is stirring the pot with the announcement that it’s “partnering with the music industry to open up a vast catalogue of popular music for Facebook Gaming Partners to play while livestreaming games”.

This is an extension of its existing user-generated content music licensing deals with labels, publishers and collecting societies, which will mean people broadcasting on Facebook’s game-streaming hub will now be able to use commercial music. There’s a caveat: some tracks won’t be allowed… but Facebook can’t say which.

“Rights for music are complex; they vary based on territory and are subject to change. The specifics of our licensing agreements are also confidential, so we’re unable to disclose which songs are not covered, making this answer wholly unsatisfying,” it explained. “Restricted tracks are rare, but do exist.”

Facebook also warned that this extension is for gamers specifically. “Your stream should be about gaming, not music. In other words, you’re okay to stream music as long as it’s in the background, with game sound effects and your voice (and anything else) over the top,” it explained. “Playing DJ without gaming is a no-no.”

That matches the advice given by Twitch to its community. Facebook’s extension of its licensing deals to game livestreams is good news for artists and rightsholders: another new revenue stream from a popular category that has been largely unmonetised in the past. It may also brighten the spotlight on Twitch a little more, although Amazon’s live-video service is also pressing forward with licensing – note its deal with collecting society Sacem today.

Stuart Dredge

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