The new stimulus bill makes illegal streaming a felony
We have already written several stories about the new pandemic stimulus package that Congress approved yesterday, including funding to improve broadband access and new energy initiatives.
However, there are other regulations that could also have serious implications for the technology and media world. For one, the bill includes a proposal from Senator Thom Tillis (a Republican from North Carolina) that illegal streaming for profit should become a criminal offense (rather than just a misdemeanor) with sentences of up to 10 years in prison.
When Tillis released a draft of his proposal earlier this month, the public knowledge open internet / intellectual property nonprofit issued a statement arguing that "no further criminal penalties for copyright infringement were needed," but also said that the bill "Tightly tailored and" avoids criminalizing users "and" does not criminalize streamers who may include unlicensed works in their streams "- instead, it focuses on those who pirate for commercial reasons.
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The bill also includes the CASE Act, which creates a new Copyright Claims Board within the US Copyright Office. This system has been compared to a small claims court, with the ability to judge copyright claims and order payments of up to $ 30,000.
When the House of Representatives debated the CASE Act last year, advocates defended it as a way for independent artists to more easily prosecute copyright infringement claims, while groups like the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation said it could negatively affect that CASE Act affect individual Internet users. Techdirt's Mike Masnick argued yesterday that it will "top up copyright trolling at just the time we need to make the law less trolling".
After the House and Senate approve the bill, it will be presented to President Donald Trump for signature. Since the full text was only published yesterday, we can probably expect a lot more debate about its implications in the weeks and months to come.
Update: Senator Tillis also issued a press release stating that the legislation had been carried over by Senator Patrick Leahy (a Vermont Democrat), stressing that it will only apply to "commercial, for-profit streaming piracy services."
"The shift towards online content streaming has resulted in criminal streaming services illegally distributing copyrighted material that costs the US economy nearly $ 30 billion each year and producing creative content that Americans love , disabled, "said Tillis in a statement. "I'm proud that this sensible piece of legislation, drawn up with the involvement of developers, user groups and tech companies, is becoming law so we can target criminal organizations and ensure that no single streamer has to worry about the fear of prosecution."
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