Two months ago, US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel produced her wishlist of changes to US law. One item in particular caught our interest—the suggestion that the online streaming of copyrighted content be bumped up to a full-scale felony. Late last week, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced just such a bill.
The text of S. 978 isn’t yet available from the official THOMAS system, but Klobuchar’s office sent us a copy of the brief bill. Under current law, “reproducing” and “distributing” copyrighted works are felony charges and cover P2P transfers and Web downloads. But streaming is a “public performance” rather than a “distribution”—and holding a public performance without a proper license is not a felony. S. 978 adds “public performance” to the felony list.
Yep, they are trying to get Congress to change a misdemeanor to a felony by changing the definition of distribution. It is things like this that demonstrate that any of us can be made into criminals by the kow-towing of Congress to businesses.
Thus, if someone wants to say watch a Sounders soccer game in a location without any authorized access, say in another country, they could go to prison for watching a few games from the wrong source. Nice way to treat a fan.
I hope this does not come close to passing but I’m not holding my breath since it is most likely a quid pro quo for all the campaign money given by these organizations. More jail time for non-violent criminals. Sounds peachy.
Do these guys even know ANY history? Sorry, rhetorical question.
In the early part of the last century, John Philip Sousa tried to not only stop mechanical reproduction of his music but also tried to get legislation that would give him control, over the devices themselves. He was scared to death that the player piano would destroy the music industry.
Thankfully, Congress did not listen to his pleas. If they had, would we even have such reproduction devices as CD or MP3 players. What about TVs? Luckily, they simply did not have enough money to get Congress to maintain the old business models over newer ones.
Not so today, where the monied interests are paying off Congress in order to maintain failing business models.
Money is the single most corrupting aspect of our politics today, IMHO. This applies to both parties. Something like one third or more of those who retire from Congress move into lobbying where they pull in th big bucks.
Because for many, Congress is now just a step onto a bigger more important job. It used to be that government service like this was the pinnacle of their life. Now it is just a stepping stone.
Congress once realized that copyrights were a social contract and that both creator and society had certain rights. Not, apparently, with the current Congress. The business of creation has too much money to spend on maintaining the status quo and criminalizing any nouveau behavior.
I guess this will allow them to go after people playing music too loud in public. Now, if lots of other people can hear, it is a public performance without a license. No more modifying cars with big sub-woofers.
And what about those criminal whistlers? Streaming that music with their lips. They should have to pay a license or go to jail.
And if they are convicted three times, we can put them away for life. Yep, we will have to welcome our media overlords then.
If this passes.