Senate Bill Targets Internet Video Streaming

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A new Senate bill takes a harder look at the practice of streaming videos online.

A new bill being considered by the Senate would make streaming copyrighted material illegal.

“Supporters of this bill claim that all it’s really doing is harmonizing US copyright law’s civil and criminal sections. After all, the rights afforded under copyright law in civil cases cover a list of rights: reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works or perform the work. The rules for criminal infringement only cover reproducing and distributing — but not performing,” read an article on TechDirt.com. “So, supporters claim, all this does is ‘harmonize’ copyright law and bring the criminal side into line with the civil side by adding ‘performance rights’ to the list of things.”

The wording of S. 978 is problematic, as it could conceivably be used to cover the embedding of YouTube videos and other Web content. The practice of using YouTube to share videos is extremely widespread, a fact displayed by the $1 billion estimated net worth of the Internet’s third most-popular website.

“First of all, despite claims to the contrary, there’s a damn good reason why Congress did not include performance rights as a criminal/felony issue: because who 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. When we suddenly criminalize a performance, that raises all sorts of questionable issues,” the article read.

“If you embed a YouTube video that turns out to be infringing, and more than 10 people view it because of your link… you could be facing five years in jail.”

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