A New U.S. Law Could Hit Streamers With Felony Charges for Streaming Copyrighted Content

felony streaming law
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felony streaming law
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Photo Credit: Victor B.

As streaming explodes, lawmakers are under pressure to crack down on piracy. Now, a new felony streaming law may end up in the year-end omnibus bill.

As the year comes to a close, lawmakers are now looking to cram several controversial copyright provisions into a broader spending bill. But they’re receiving lots of push back from tech companies and civil liberties organizations like the ACLU. These activists argue that legislators are creating a system that’s ripe for abuse. More than 18 organizations are urging congressional leadership to reject these provisions in the omnibus spending bill.

“We respect Congress’s intent to improve our intellectual property system and protect the rights of creators and entrepreneurs,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation-led group says. “However, certain aspects of this package of bills will have negative impacts on small and medium-sized businesses, creators, libraries, and their patrons, students, teachers, educational institutions, religious institutions, fan communities, internet users, and free expression.”

Among the possible changes: Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) is sponsoring a felony streaming proposal, which has not yet been introduced to legislation. The proposal would provide the U.S. Department of Justice with the authority to charge commercial enterprises that are streaming certain kinds of works with felony copyright infringement.

The House and Senate Judiciary Committees have agreed to package the controversial felony streaming law proposal with other provisions like the CASE Act and the Trademark Modernization Act.

The House has passed a stopgap spending bill today that will keep the government functional until December 18th. That gives the government more time to consider these three riders that could have important consequences for streamers and services like Twitch.

Twitch has taken a controversial approach to its music licensing issues, even after Congress grilled Amazon leader Jeff Bezos. The platform now tells its streamers that a single copyright strike is enough to get you banned from the platform. Instead of signing music licensing deals like most major platforms, Twitch sets up its own pre-approved music platform.

If this proposed felony streaming law actually makes it through in the spending bill – Twitch could be in serious trouble. Streamers themselves could be liable for playing music they’re not licensed to stream.

That’s a tricky situation when many games include copyrighted music – Cyberpunk 2077 is a good example. Accordingly, the game now includes a new ‘streamer mode‘ that removes all copyrighted music from the game. This might be the future of game streaming as Congress seeks to crack down on unlawful streaming with harsher penalties for platforms.

For now, the US government will continue to operate while it debates on these riders to the omnibus spending bill.

19 Responses

  1. dzny

    I say let the pendulum swing towards protection, and chip away from it where it makes sense instead of having everything out there like a table full of bootleg cassettes in a Chinese back alley. Everything is better with music. Thats why you need to PAY for it, filthy rich tech companies.

    • Agent Zapdos

      Google and Twitch would have to purchase perpetual rights to all copyrighted content in existence, past and future, just to cover their asses. I don’t think that’s even possible. So regular users end up getting screwed instead. The only streamers will be corporations. The day of the independent content creator is gone.

  2. Ruell Bankasingh

    i just don’t understand sometimes, why don’t these people want to pay the copyright owners. it’s good the copyright protection is enforced. if you create it, you should be the one benefiting from it soley or mostly if you want to license it out. these companies can pay to use the content, they just don’t want to, so too bad for them. did you see the last post about 87% of artist only got $27 for the entire year. we should not the stepped on. a lot of companies are taking advantage of people that create and they are the one benefiting while they force the creator to suffer. it’s wrong in every way and requires the most horrific consequences. it’s easy to do things the right way, but people maliciously chose to do wrong.

    • Trolol

      You people aren’t owners you are executives who keep everything and the artist gets nothing.

      I hope your industry is destroyed by this virus and you by the virus along with the Republican Party lol

    • You people

      They can’t compete so they just put everyone in jail.

      That’s the most republican thing I have ever heard.

      Along with murder.

  3. David Carson

    Perhaps you should read the text of the bill before inaccurately reporting on it.

  4. Wolf

    What is the exact name of the felony streaming bill he’s pushing for? I see everything but that.

  5. G

    Poor streamers, they’re already in home detention.
    Boomer normies dont want millennial streamers to be happy.

  6. Johnny

    Michael McDonald 17 years between albums. Alan Parsons 15 years between albums. No new album from Foreigner in almost 10 years. Hmmm, I wonder why so many great musicians have stopped recording new music altogether??? Hmmmm??

    • Well I’ll tell you

      Because no one even knows who foreigner is anymore lol

      Dude you peoples re like Vince McMahon re doing the same old gig and then wondering why it won’t work anymore.

  7. Josh Taylor

    So Tillis wants to put victims of DMCA abuse in federal prison and make their lives impossible to hold a job, apply for benefits, getting food from the Food Bank (Your local food bank may ask you if committed a felony), applying for home loan, etc.

  8. Seth

    You are lying to your readers.

    There is no such new law.

    It is merely one proposal, unpassed.

    Shame on you. If we are kind, it is clickbait. If we are honest, it is a lie. An untruth.

      • Seth

        A new law must pass in the House, the Senate and get signed by the president.

        Not one of these has occurred.

  9. Stacy

    If something like this ever passes, i can’t imagine what YouTube will be like. I often watch reaction videos on there. The videos are heavily edited, so it’s usually snippets.

  10. Switchflow: for the people

    Music is speech, speech is freedom. I could careless that a group of wealthy artist crying about, honestly making money they would not get “60% of monetized music on youtube and other platforms and getting free promotion to new listeners they would probably never reach. You ungreatful former musicians, you don’t own the music or did you forget why you made it in the first place. And to any lawmakers considering this, just remember a lot of them borrowed pieces from other artist so we can just go ahead and invite all those famous artist to court to defend their on copyright. Open this pandora’s box and you will turn the music community and true Americans away from the corruption the music industry and politics have become. Don Henley you make me ashamed to say i used to be a eagles fan. Maybe i will be again, when hell freezes over.

  11. KB

    Are you 20-something a$$holes really that stupid? This bill is to ensure that “streamers” which are the ABC, CBS, NBC, Disney, Netflix, Comcast and Verizon are the only ones “allowed” to stream content. With so many “cord cutters” they are ensuring that they get every possible dollar from consumers. Facebook, YouTube are pushing for this as they have their lobby-rats making sure their a$$es are covered. Soon Comcast and Verizon FiOS will have their streaming prices on par with their cable fees.