Here we go again.
The U.S. Department of Commerce wants to crack down on the unauthorized streaming of video and audio content by reviving a provision of the Stop Online Piracy Act. This is the same SOPA that was met with much outrage from the voting public and businesses like Google in 2012. Under this administration, the Commerce Department’s Internet Policy Task Force released a 122 page report calling for the unauthorized streaming of copyrighted works to become a felony.
Making unauthorized streaming a felony was proposed back in 2011 by the White House’s Office of the U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator. Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Christopher Coons (D-DE) introduced legislation to that effect later that year. As it stands now, streaming a copyrighted work over the Internet is considered a violation of the public performance right. The violation is only punishable as a misdemeanor, rather than the felony charges that accompany the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted material.
SOPA attempted to change that in Section 201, aptly titled “Streaming of copyrighted works in violation of criminal law.” Some have suggested that the SOPA version and an earlier stand-alone piece of legislation from Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) will also criminalize covers of songs shared on YouTube.
One campaign against this particular type of copyright crackdown highlighted how such a law could have made Justin Bieber into a criminal. Bieber was discovered after he become a sensation via doing cover songs and uploading them to YouTube . Under this law, doing a cover song and uploading it would make you a felon.
The Commerce Department report recommends “adopting the same range of penalties for criminal streaming of copyrighted works to the public as now exists for criminal reproduction and distribution”. It seems like the influence of Hollywood execs and their lawyers on retention are attempting to recoup lost revenue from their constant stream of Hollywood flops at the box office. It’s also unfortunate that our tax dollars pay these politicians to pretty much champion causes like this while taking long vacations throughout the year.
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