Fuser is the latest rhythm game from developer Harmonix, and it is a game that is already going through some hoops to be shown online.
It is well-documented right now that the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has been involved in several aggressive copyright claims against videos on the internet. Though not a new problem - as we have previously reported on DMCA takedowns happening to content creators without notice - companies such as Facebook and Twitch have since given new guidelines regarding copyright claims to try and assuage worries users.
Twitch has gotten the brunt of the anger due to their automatic deletion of videos, including VOD's, earlier this month. The new guidelines posted on Twitch's blog goes into detail regarding the influx of DMCA's coming from the RIAA. The gist is the RIAA and major record labels are now enforcing copyright claims indiscriminately across the board, leading to the previous DMCA takedowns, and want Twitch to pay for the licensing of the music for the platform.
What Twitch is paying for is live performances of licensed songs, with the RIAA contending that Twitch needs to instead pay for the sync rights for their live streams because it is paired with visuals that aren't part of the music being performed, putting it in a category like theatre or dance when not recorded. In other words, the use of songs on a Twitch stream, according to the RIAA, is not covered by the live performance rights, and Twitch needs to give the RIAA more money for licensing fees to allow that to continue.
This is in stark contrast to companies like Facebook, who paid the RIAA licensing fees for sync rights to be used on the platform, allowing for streams to play music on streams. They also paid for them to be stored in VOD, which is why Facebook is allowed to have VOD's with music and not Twitch.
Twitch claimed that about 99% of the DMCA takedowns between May and mid-October were due to tracks that streamers were playing in the background of their stream. As a result, Twitch has noted two simple recourses; first, is to simply no longer use music on your stream. The second is to have creators go through their own VOD's and Clips that may have music in them, and delete any archives that might be taken down.
At this time, it seems that Twitch isn't particularly willing to pay for the broader licensing of music, though it is looking for workarounds, such as their new Soundtrack feature which is currently in beta. Soundtrack allows for rights-cleared music to be played on the platform, though the RIAA and other labels are targeting Twitch for this too. The real crux of it is allowing Twitch users to separate the music stream from the audiovisual stream, resulting in VODs that don't have any music.
How does Fuser fit into all of this?
Well, new guidelines posted on the Fuser website notes specific rules that will allow Fuser players to stream and play their music, online.
...You should turn off all monetization options in your control for Fuser UGC– that means no running ads and no ad breaks during a stream. Similarly, you should not solicit, or show overlays of, donations/paid subscriptions/bits, etc" - Fuser UGC guidelines
"These Fuser music licensing agreements only permit user-generated content containing licensed in-game music from Fuser (Fuser UGC) to be used in a non-commercial context and in accordance with the guidelines below." notes the new regulations, which basically state that songs can be shown on formats such as Twitch or YouTube, but must be demonetized, with only a list of exceptions given in the blog post.
The guidelines also state that the game music must not be used out-of-context of the gameplay, and that content involving the music must focus on actually playing the game, and warnings of brand promotions on videos, which are prohibited if playing Fuser. This also includes showing donations or subscribers, thanking subscribers or donors (including bits), or mentioning anything that could possibly make money, with only things like asking people to follow, with no financial ties being allowed. When archiving Fuser content, streamers are also told to separate it from other games.
There is a very small list of songs that you can use with monetization, or when you might mention other things and follow the rules as set out by Harmonix. This list is made up of just over 30 songs.
Harmonix is also telling users to not post VOD's on Twitch, due to the likelihood that their videos will be copyright claimed. Interestingly enough, because Facebook has paid for the broader license, VOD's for Facebook are still allowed. It is also permissible to put them on Youtube.
Fuser, and in relation Harmonix and NCSoft, are basically hedging their bets with their own licensing deal, working with the RIAA in a very restricted context, especially when it comes to Twitch streaming. It is unknown how long this partnership will actually last.