Cross-posted to CandyBullets
Isn’t YouTube great? Better enjoy it while you can folks, because if this bill passes it won’t exist in any recognizable form. The same big business lobbyists who masterminded the Internet Blacklist Bill are back. To be exact this bill (S. 978) will make it a felony crime to stream copyrighted content, like music in the background of a YouTube video, or a news clip, TechDirt points out you could even go to jail for posting a video of your friends singing Karaoke:
The entertainment industry is freaking out about sites that embed and stream infringing content, and want law enforcement to put people in jail over it, rather than filing civil lawsuits…. We already pointed to one possibility: that people embedding YouTube videos could face five years in jail. Now, others are pointing out that it could also put kids who lip sync to popular songs, and post the resulting videos on YouTube, in jail as well.
And here’s the kicker, this new felony would hold criminal penalties worse than the crime of child molestation: 5-10 years in prison.
Despite ever dense and dodgy claims to the contrary there happens to be a exceedingly good reason why Congress didn’t include so-called “performance rights” as a felony issue; what sane person would have thought that it would be a criminal act to perform a work without permission? It could be infringing, but that can be covered by a fine. By suddenly a performance illegal, don’t we start to raise all sorts of issues?
Furthermore, I’ll again quote TechDirt here;
…as we suspected, in the full text of the bill, “performance” is not clearly defined. This is the really troubling part. Everyone keeps insisting that this is targeted towards “streaming” websites, but is streaming a “performance”? If so, how does embedding play into this? Is the site that hosts the content guilty of performing? What about the site that merely linked to and/or embedded the video (linking and embedding are technically effectively the same thing). Without clear definitions, we run into problems pretty quickly.
Did I mention I haven’t even go to the worst bit yet? Because rather than just adding “performance” to the list, the bill also strives to define what constitutes a potential felony crime in these circumstances:
the offense consists of 10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copyrighted works
Please understand this: If you embed a YouTube video that turns out to be infringing, and more than 10 people view it because of your link, you are facing ten years in jail.
This bill is the most blatant attempt at media censorship yet. It would make it illegal, with unbelievably harsh penalties, to post CNN or MSNBC or CurrentTV videos on YouTube. Someone on Fox say something outrageous or racist? Patently false, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Or merely ridiculous? Either way, you’ll be facing ten years in prison if you post that clip on the net. Remember when Fox was caught using footage from Florida, where there were palm trees in the background, and claimed it was from Wisconsin? It would now be illegal to post that.
This new bill was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX), you can get all the information on the bill here. It’s also being cosponsored by Senator Christopher Coons.