Twitch CEO confirms audio scanning and muting won't be added to livestreams

Big changes are coming to Twitch , including the implementation of "audio recognition technology" that will scan recorded broadcasts and mute any that it finds are using unauthorized—that is, copyrighted—audio. The announcement came as a surprise to Twitch users but CEO Emmett Shear said in today's Reddit AMA that it's actually been in the works for awhile now, and also confirmed that the audio scanning won't be applied to livestreams.

The response to the proposed changes hasn't been entirely positive, but Shear insisted in the AMA that they're both necessary and, in the long run, good for the community. "We did need to change things," he said. "This is laying groundwork for some work in the future you guys are REALLY going to like. We've been intending to do this for some time, but it took us a while to identify and select a content identification partner and get the system up and reliable."

He also stated very bluntly that Twitch won't mute live video streams, even if it could. "We have absolutely no intention of running any audio recognition against live video, period," he wrote. "We really don't want to do it on live, and I don't see any reason why we ever would."

The audio scanning resolution is expected to improve in the future, he explained, allowing Twitch to handle VODs more precisely than the current system, which mutes entire 30-minute blocks of video if any infringing audio is found. An appeals system for incorrectly-flagged audio is also planned.

As for why all of this is necessary in the first place, Shear said it's simply because Twitch cares about its users. "We want every broadcaster on Twitch to be protected from potential liability," he said. "No matter how remote you might feel the issue is, we aren't willing to run the risk someone's life gets ruined over this."

The Twitch AMA is still underway at Reddit .

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.