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The bill could send you to prison for five years for streaming video 10 times in half a year.  (Source: DigitalTrends.com)
Sharing sports games with your friends? You're going to prison for 5 years!

Some accuse the United States federal government of being bought and paid for by the entertainment industry when it comes to copyright law.  Indeed, when Barack Obama was elected president he initially promised to look into copyright reform, but since has focused his efforts almost exclusively on copyright enforcement.  Copyright enforcement is a rare bipartisan-supported issue in Washington D.C. -- arguably because parties such as the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and their respective member corporations make a point of donating millions to members of both parties.

Given that, the U.S. Senate’s plans to criminalize online streaming of television programming or movies does not particularly surprise.  Dubbed "The Commercial Felony Streaming Act" (S. 978), the bipartisan bill was introduced by Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas).

The bill would aims to "reconcile a disparity" between the current law regarding stream of content with that regarding peer-to-peer (P2P) filesharing.  The bill's proposed way to "reconcile" that disparity is to send Americans to prison -- if you're caught streaming 10 times within 180 days, you can be convicted of a felony and sentenced to up to 5 years in prison.

In order for videos to qualify as strikes against an individual, the infringed work must have a retail value of the streamed video that exceeds $2,500, or a license worth more than $5,000.  To qualify the streaming must also be done for "personal financial gain" -- an ambiguous phrasing.

The MPAA claims that it will only target website owners who "willfully and knowingly violated a copyright and profited from it." The organization says it will not look to prosecute those who "stream videos without intending to profit".

However, the organization or other copyright enforcement groups could eventually use the measure to try to prosecute viewers and owners of non-profitable sites as well, as they could argue that individuals see a "personal financial gain" from not purchasing work legally.  

The bill is firmly supported by the Obama administration.  The White House Office of U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement urged Congress two months ago to send Americans who stream to prison.  

The effort is also being pushed by the American Federation of Musicians (AFM), AFTRA, Directors Guild of America, IATSE, SAG, the MPAA, the Independent Film & Television Alliance, and the National Association of Theatre Owners.

Michael O’Leary, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs for the MPAA lauds, "This bill will help ensure that the punishment for these site operators fits the crime."

And IFTA President Jean Prewitt adds, "The illegal streaming of motion pictures and television programming is as financially devastating for our industry as is illegal downloading. Stealing is stealing, regardless of the means in which the product is being received."

The bill was approved on Thursday by the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Some states have recently been pushing to make sharing your Netflix password a misdemeanor offense that carries jail time.  Netflix, Inc. (NFLX) is the world's largest legal vendor of streaming movies.  The bills contain no exemptions for sharing passwords with your family members or roommates.

The U.S. has the world's highest incarceration rate of any country in the world [source; PDF].  It is project that the U.S. spent over $80B USD in tax payer money on imprisoning its citizens in 2010 [source].



Comments     Threshold


This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled

Vote.
By Motoman on 6/17/2011 9:55:29 AM , Rating: 5
Remember, we are the idiots that put these idiots into office.

Call them.

Write them.

Email them.

And inform them in no uncertain terms that you will be voting for *anyone* else if they support such wildly sociopathic bills.




RE: Vote.
By Dr of crap on 6/17/2011 10:36:56 AM , Rating: 2
My post from above again -

Yea, that might work!
Everyones on the take, where have you been?

Politicians are all corrupt.
Don't belive it?
It's just not out in the open that's all.


RE: Vote.
By Motoman on 6/17/2011 10:51:25 AM , Rating: 2
I do believe it.

But the #1 goal of a politician is to be in office. If they're voted out of office, they can't do d1ck. So make it clear to them what is and isn't going to get them voted in/out of office.


RE: Vote.
By mcnabney on 6/17/2011 10:59:42 AM , Rating: 5
That isn't even a threat.

The districts are so gerrymandered that only a handul of races are actually competitive. The Congressman you wrote could probably send you a letter back say "hah, like I am going somewhere. The district is 80% Republican (or Democratic). I'm not going anywhere. So go cry somewhere else."


RE: Vote.
By ebakke on 6/17/2011 11:04:26 AM , Rating: 2
It's truly depressing how accurate that is.


RE: Vote.
By sprockkets on 6/17/2011 11:20:17 AM , Rating: 2
What was that congressman that committed all those crimes, got convicted, then his only punishment was "censure", and he got re-elected?

That's messed up.


RE: Vote.
By Reclaimer77 on 6/17/2011 12:04:49 PM , Rating: 2
Name's on the tip of my tongue but can't remember.

But hell, he's nothing. Ted Kennedy, hero of the Left, murdered a woman and it was covered up by his family and buried so he could win an election.

Karma must be real. As far as I'm concerned the Kennedy family got what they deserved. When every last one of them dies, the world will be a much better place.


RE: Vote.
By MrBlastman on 6/17/2011 12:04:40 PM , Rating: 2
Charlie Rangel.

Most politicians don't give a crap about their districts. Just look at Harry Reid insulting his constiuents a few years ago in public. They don't care. They know it is rigged in their favor and they make laws that give them immunities.

But, you can only blame the public for not giving a darn enough to take time out of their day to actually learn about their candidates.


RE: Vote.
By ClownPuncher on 6/17/2011 12:23:22 PM , Rating: 2
I like how Charlie Rangel can't even form a coherent sentence or thought, yet basically has the job for life.


RE: Vote.
By Reclaimer77 on 6/17/2011 12:28:01 PM , Rating: 1
Doesn't matter. He's a black Democrat. He could be a mass murderer, but the second you tried removing him from office, the race-baiting Liberals will race-card you until you are cut to shreds.


RE: Vote.
By Motoman on 6/17/11, Rating: 0
RE: Vote.
By ipay on 6/17/2011 11:04:42 AM , Rating: 2
You miss it completely. If the lobby support both parties, you have no chance but to vote in one.

And they are no idiots, they receive money in exchange of a "service", which is business as usual in other markets.
If politicians turn "good Samaritans" and refuse any "bad external influences" in campaign time, it's guaranteed that they will lose to whatever is on the other side, even if it's a C student with no govern capabilities, or a person that thinks Africa is a country.


RE: Vote.
By Reclaimer77 on 6/17/2011 11:45:27 AM , Rating: 5
Waste of time. The career politician needs to be removed from existence, and the pay and benefits for "public service" drastically lowered. From the city council all the way to the White House.

Term limits and crappy pay. That will ensure those who serve, truly wish to "serve". Not get rich and live off taxpayers for their entire adult lives. Some of these bloodsuckers have been in office longer than we've been alive!

Calling for lobbying to be illegal doesn't address the true reason for the mess we have today. Government is too big, it's bigger and more greedy than any business out there.


RE: Vote.
By therealnickdanger on 6/17/2011 11:55:52 AM , Rating: 2
QFT

Can't +1 this enough. Well, now that I've posted, I can't +1 it at all. :(


RE: Vote.
By Reclaimer77 on 6/17/2011 11:59:09 AM , Rating: 2
Ty, but don't worry. I rather have good discussion than +1's. A post means a lot more to me than a rating.


RE: Vote.
By YashBudini on 6/17/2011 1:17:48 PM , Rating: 2
Not really. A new politician may have some ideals as to how things work, but soon enough they are forced to play ball the way their party wants them to. As soon as that happens it's all over, and that includes first termers.

Limiting them to one term will have only one clear effect; it will speed up the above process. And their won't be any reason to give voters any scraps so they can get reelected.

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.


RE: Vote.
By EricMartello on 6/17/2011 2:52:54 PM , Rating: 2
The reason their party can get so entrenched in the first place is due to a lack of reasonable term limits. I don't think we should have people in their 70s or 80s making decisions that affect the people of this country. To say they are out of touch is an understatement. There should be a mandatory retirement age for politicians and it should be around 55-65 years old.

Shrinking the government and reducing its power over its people is step one. This may require a civilian uprising. After that, the USA can start fresh and become the land of opportunity it used to be.

I do think the government needs to be more proactive in preventing any single entity or group of entities from gaining too much financial control...the current distribution of wealth favors a few at the top, while the majority are left fighting for scraps on "treadmill of fail" until they die. These things would be steps in a better direction.


RE: Vote.
By YashBudini on 6/18/2011 1:34:36 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
There should be a mandatory retirement age for politicians and it should be around 55-65 years old.

First no felons should be allowed to be congressmen, senators, or any level above them.


RE: Vote.
By inperfectdarkness on 6/17/2011 7:03:22 PM , Rating: 2
...for everything but military service. i'd like to keep some of the intelligent, competant people around in the military.

besides, the military is a very competitive employer today. weeding out chaff isn't even remotely the same degree of problem it is in legislature.


RE: Vote.
By Reclaimer77 on 6/17/2011 8:26:37 PM , Rating: 2
I don't personally consider military servicemen "politicians", so that's fine with me.


RE: Vote.
By achintya on 6/20/2011 1:08:59 AM , Rating: 2
Lowering payscales might not really work. Here in India all politicians are paid a pittance. But they are rolling in money. All this money is then obtained through illegal means - bribes. Bribing is a common thing and people regularly do it to get anything and everything done. And if the pay is lowered across the board for all politicians, there will be no motivation for any politician to really act on the bribes.


RE: Vote.
By YashBudini on 6/17/2011 1:13:05 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Remember, we are the idiots that put these idiots into office.

You make it sound like we actually have a choice. People stuck on the 2 party bandwagon guarantee we will get scum into office.


RE: Vote.
By Motoman on 6/17/2011 1:53:22 PM , Rating: 1
Right. Which reminds me...we need to outlaw political parties too.

"What?! Then we'd actually have to try to elect people based on their own virtues as individual people!"

Yup.


RE: Vote.
By Reclaimer77 on 6/17/2011 4:10:45 PM , Rating: 2
Outlaw parties? What? Then everyone would just say what the people wanted to hear just to get elected. At least now, with parties, you have some idea of what the person stands for. If for nothing else than the fact that they'll be pressured by their own party to tow the "party line" when it comes time to vote on something.

Without parties we would have to toss out, or rewrite, half the Constitution. How would the built in "checks and balances" to try and balance political power and keep the President and Congress in check work without parties? Hell for that matter, how would the House and Senate even work?

Moto I like you, you have a good head on your shoulders, but just outlawing everything we don't like or think might be a problem seems kind of draconian to me.


RE: Vote.
By BloodSquirrel on 6/20/2011 2:01:08 PM , Rating: 2
Here's the dirty little secret about the two-party system:

All it does is corral whoever the public is willing to vote for into one of the two parties. It doesn't change who gets into politics, it just adds an (R) or a (D) behind their name. If a candidate is electable, then he’ll make his way through one of the two parties and get elected. If somebody can’t get a nomination from one of the two parties, then they never had a chance in the general anyway.

Not only does the public control who get nominated through the primaries, but they control who gets into higher office by electing them to lower office first. You can try to argue that it’s only a minority of people who participate in the primaries, but then whose fault is that?

The two party system is just a scapegoat. It’s people’s voting habits that are to blame. There are better, smarter, more principle trying to get into the system, but they lose out to the people who are better and gaming the public, and it’s nobody but the public’s fault that they didn’t notice that the guy they voted for was promising trillions of dollars in new spending and to balance the budget at the same time


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