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The bill could send you to prison for five years for streaming video 10 times in half a year.  (Source:
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].

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They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By 91TTZ on 6/17/2011 9:59:29 AM , Rating: 5
As long as lobbyists have a pathway to funnel money from the companies they represent to the politicians that make law in this country, the laws will always favor the wealthy.

While I believe that lobbying should be allowed so that companies can state their cases to the government, the ability to give them money/gifts/political favors only serves to corrupt a democratic system that should favor the people.

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By Motoman on 6/17/2011 10:06:53 AM , Rating: 4
No, lobbying has to be outlawed entirely if there is ever to be any hope for fairness in governance. There is no concievable way that it can be allowed and not skew politics towards the specific interests of those with the money to pay for lobbyists.

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By nafhan on 6/17/2011 10:46:37 AM , Rating: 2
I think "outlawing" lobbying would just move it out of the open without otherwise changing a thing. Not sure what the best solution would be, but I have a feeling that would just make things worse - at least right now, we have some idea of who's giving money to who.

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By Motoman on 6/17/2011 10:50:15 AM , Rating: 3
Yes, but then when you caught a lobbyist, you could send him to jail and the organization who was paying him too.

Do a few of those and you'd be surprised how fast people straighten up.

By AntDX316 on 6/19/2011 5:06:20 AM , Rating: 2

gotta love how the internet full of 0's and 1's makes people go to jail

in the same similar concept of life being molecules and energy makes people go to hell

but same as 0's and 1's makes people extremely happy and molecules and energy makes people extremely happy too

================================================= ================================

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By mcnabney on 6/17/2011 10:52:38 AM , Rating: 5
Fine, move it into the dark alleys.

Then we can throw Congresscritters in JAIL for accepting bribes. That IS what they are.

By MechanicalTechie on 6/19/2011 7:57:18 PM , Rating: 2
For an outside POV, if the American people dont get off their fat arses and do something about the backhands in your politics you can only look forward to the Police state thats already pressing hard on you guys :(

By MrBlastman on 6/17/2011 11:03:45 AM , Rating: 3
Outlawing lobbying is needed, now. It must be stopped at all costs. The problem is, nobody in Congress would ever vote for it...

Take this little fact for instance I heard about yesterday--the average stock returns of Congress versus the rest of America and Insiders. It is eye opening:

and a newer study:

Notice their average levels of return FAR exceeded the general public and at the Senate level, doubled insiders and at the House level, approached it.

Do you see the disparity now? This is damning evidence to say the least. Now do you think Lobbying is bad? This is outrageous to me, to say the least. I work my butt off to make coin honestly--these guys just get inside info and profit with ease.

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By StanO360 on 6/17/11, Rating: -1
By MrBlastman on 6/17/2011 12:25:55 PM , Rating: 2
The problem with the rich wanting to be there is a lot of the time, they are there to line their pockets through legislation that benefits their businesses...

Term limits though are direly needed.

By The Raven on 6/17/2011 5:40:53 PM , Rating: 2
Term limits though are direly needed.

I know why you would say that but you can't make people interested in politics by annoying them with ads. They only get interested once they know how much the gov't has/will screw them.

What I mean is that they will just go and check R or D on the ballot and go home to catch the end of Celebrity Apprentice. It won't matter if there is a new guy on the ballot. Term limits will just result in more book deals for more former senators. I mean Robert Byrd for example was in office for how long? 17,327 days of "service" (it is not service if it is your means of living in my opinion).

Not to sound so down on Byrd, but his constituents deserve him. If that is what they want, so be it. It shouldn't affect me in MO much since I have my own representatives here. But as the federal gov't grows that is becoming more and more meaningless... uhh... so on second thought maybe we do need term limits ;-)

By superstition on 6/17/2011 10:52:49 PM , Rating: 2
Byrd was highly effective at getting pork for his state as far as I know, so his constituents were pleased.

By Invane on 6/17/2011 12:30:44 PM , Rating: 2
The current form lobbying is in is far closer to legal bribery than any form of free speech. I'm fine with cases being presented. This should be done without large checks and other gifts being attached to the proposals.

If money is allowed to be used to influence decisions, those decisions will be made in such a way as to favor those with money. It's a simple and unfortunate reality.

By 91TTZ on 6/17/2011 3:30:12 PM , Rating: 2
Lobbying is free speech

Lobbying itself is free speech, which is why they should be allowed to lobby. But funneling money to the politicians who make the law is nothing short of a bribe.

By YashBudini on 6/17/2011 7:37:02 PM , Rating: 5
Lobbying is free speech.

Yeah it frees up any chance of an individual citizen being treated fairly, especially when up against a corporation.

By Invane on 6/17/2011 12:35:04 PM , Rating: 3
Very interesting stuff there Blastman. The return on investment these guys make is shocking. I would have expected better than the US average...but not that much better. When they can do better than corporate insiders you know something's not right. I have seen few better indicators of corruption than that data.

By hyvonen on 6/17/2011 3:16:09 PM , Rating: 2
The first link is data presented in a bad way - the time periods don't match. Annualized returns vary widely depending on the time period chosen.

Second link requires subscription.

That said, I completely agree with you that lobbying should be outlawed across the board. Lobbying diminishes the value of voting, as lobbying essentially allows the congress to be bought.

By TSS on 6/17/2011 12:15:21 PM , Rating: 2
Well the problem then lies with the politicians loyalty: Their loyalty is to the money, wether it's secretly or openly given to them.

So that mentality has to be changed, which IMO is practically impossible. I'd think the only way to work with it is to outlaw any other source of income for politicians aside from the pay they recieve from the government and the budget assigned to them by the government for their campaign, which is a set amount of money for all politicians.

Maybe that way you can choose more people for president rather then 1 democrat and 1 republican both pre-selected by the corperations. Maybe then the congress's allegiance will be to the people, since their only way of putting food on the table is to serve the people. Maybe it'll put an end to party politics since people with independant opinions will be heard just as loudly.

Maybe it won't change a damned thing and the USA is set to go down a path of decadence and destruction like other empires before it no matter what happens. Time will tell, but it's pretty obvious to anybody that'll happen for sure if nothing is changed.

By wiz220 on 6/17/2011 12:17:41 PM , Rating: 2
Heh, I don't think there's much of lobbying that's "out in the open" right now. The laws are such that everything can be obfuscated and hidden while still "obeying the law".

By zenom11 on 6/20/2011 9:49:54 AM , Rating: 2
I agree. we need to fix our system. Ban all contribution from organizations/companies. so that there is no way for any organizations/companies to have leverage or political agenda and our reps in DC only work for their constituents and not these lobbyists.

the positions as our reps in DC are just a cover up, they actually have a bigger agenda. and that is bribe money from lobbyists.

By The0ne on 6/17/2011 3:21:07 PM , Rating: 2
No disagreement here. So much for one vote counting :(

By BloodSquirrel on 6/20/2011 1:31:04 PM , Rating: 2
Trying to outlaw lobbying isn't going to do a damn thing as long as people keep sending politicians to Washington based on how much bacon they promise to bring home. Politicians are using the public’s own stupid, lazy, ignorant greed to blind them to the damage they’re doing to this country. All it takes is some free gov’mnt cash waved in front of their faces and nobody will give this kind of legislation a second thought come voting day.

People make a deal with the politicians: I’ll give you what you want, and you deliver the goods, no matter who else it screws. Then they’re actually surprised when politicians turn around and make the same deal with corporations.

No legislation is going to grant morals to the same immoral scumbags that make the legislation. You need to vote for people who have their own morals, and you can’t do that *and* vote for someone who is promising that they’ll funnel everyone else’s money into your personal bank account at the same time.

By danobrega on 6/17/2011 10:10:24 AM , Rating: 2
While I believe that lobbying should be allowed so that companies can state their cases

Companies? Companies lobby? Great world we are building, where companies matter more than people.

Maybe that's it, Companies are the next evolutionary step. Humans are all going to die, and companies will eventually rule earth.

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By Motoman on 6/17/11, Rating: -1
RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By mcnabney on 6/17/2011 10:54:17 AM , Rating: 5
No they aren't.

Companies are an artificial construct. I can create one this morning, have it bribe a congressman, and dissolve it tonight. They are not real. They are financial tools designed to restrict liability, nothing more.

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By Motoman on 6/17/11, Rating: 0
By YashBudini on 6/17/2011 1:26:33 PM , Rating: 2
if there were no people, there would be no companies. Ergo...yes they are.

Does a company have a pulse? Can you put it in a jail cell?

Libertarians often refer to democracy as "mob rule." If that's the case aren't shareholders a type of mob? Mobs are composed of people, but we don't arrest and jail mobs, we handle them on an individual basis.

Your claim lacks substance.

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By Motoman on 6/17/11, Rating: -1
By YashBudini on 6/17/2011 3:25:10 PM , Rating: 4
You're composed of cells. You are not a cell.

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By Motoman on 6/17/11, Rating: -1
By YashBudini on 6/17/2011 6:40:23 PM , Rating: 2
Try to create a corporation that has no humans attached to it - no board of directors, no see how far you get with that.

A straw man argument that serves no purpose.

But even so, corporations are not individuals no matter what you say. But interestingly enough since they are a group then if they kill anyone consipiracy charges should be the default. And all individuals are equally guilty of a crime even if and especially when the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing. That's the entire basis of conspiracy; a group that breaks the law.

But the ultimate proof that the US only claims corporations are people as opposed to actually enforcing such a proclamation is the Wall St debacle. As a person if you had created such a mess, as you mentioned with Madoff, then you'd be in jail. But once you're "too big to fail" then laws apparently no longer apply to you.

So when exactly do you expect to be "too big to fail" or above the law?

Because the law needs to know who to put in jail when the corporation does something illegal.

Time and time again those with money and influence don't go to jail. By the end Madoff had neither, and the publicity forced the hand. Otherwise he would have landed in Club Fed, same as Ken Lay if he were still alive. While Ted Kennedy was the one who didn't go to jail had the exact same thing happened to GWB the Bush clan were and are quite capable of achieving similar results.

Why people who have to obey the law look up to such people remains a mystery. Perhaps it's envy?

You're a catastrophic moron.

These words merely support my theory your argument is too weak to stand up to scrutiny. I thank you for making that clear. Let me know if you have any plans on throwing sticks and stones.

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By Motoman on 6/18/2011 12:33:54 AM , Rating: 2
You've made no argument at all - and you've demonstrated that you don't even know what a "strawman" is.

You also invented the concept that I was saying a corporation is an individual. I have always stated that corporations required groups of people.

And Madoff isn't the only major businessperson to go to jail. You should try Google some time. I'm not here to hold your kleenex while you blow your nose.

As for your "too big to fail" red herring, and yes, it is a red herring - a single instance of a governmental decision that you don't agree with is not pertinent. herring.

You have stated nothing but falsehoods that can easily be disproven by looking at the forms to register a corporation in any state in the union. Every single thing you have said has been a lie. Not one point you've tried to make can be backed up by any factual evidence. All you're doing is trying to obfuscate and misdirect - a corporation can't exist without people, it can't do anything except at the direction of those people, and those people are accountable for it's actions. Period. End of story. Your continued dissonance proves nothing other than the fact that you are, based on the evidence you have yourself provided here, a total f%cking idiot. That's not namecalling - it's a clinical diagnosis. You're f%cking retarded, and all the evidence needed to support that diagnosis you have provided here yourself.

By YashBudini on 6/18/2011 1:37:24 AM , Rating: 2
It's both amusing and sad to see people who believe the bully pulpit adds to their credibility.

By YashBudini on 6/17/2011 12:50:04 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously he doesn't have the money nor the influence. Who does? The rich elite, and large corporations.

Who do you think employs all those that leech on K St? Who told government that xxx subsidies are required for business? The representatives of Joe Average?

By woofersus on 6/17/2011 11:44:51 AM , Rating: 3
You're intentionally missing the point. If you created a company and "had it bribe a congressman" would it not be you who were bribing said congressman? If you created a company and then stuck the paperwork in a drawer and forgot about it, the company wouldn't magically do stuff all by itself.

By ClownPuncher on 6/17/2011 1:07:38 PM , Rating: 2
If you created a company and then stuck the paperwork in a drawer and forgot about it, the company wouldn't magically do stuff all by itself.

Well, there goes my "get rich quick" idea.

By 91TTZ on 6/17/2011 3:25:22 PM , Rating: 2
The companies would still get to lobby to enable them to make their case. But they wouldn't be able to funnel money to the politicians.

The company should have influence as an employer of people, but not the kind of disproportionate influence that they have now due to their wealth.

By 2011tech1 on 6/17/2011 10:45:26 AM , Rating: 3
Why don't we dispense with the term lobbying and call it what it really is. Bribery

By MrBlastman on 6/17/2011 11:25:33 AM , Rating: 2
Because that would be too European. ;)

Sad as it is, Europe is rife with bribery. It is even expected there and it is insulting at the high level businesswise if it is scoffed at.

But yeah, Lobbyists have to go--along with their legalized bribery.

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By wiz220 on 6/17/2011 12:20:38 PM , Rating: 2
Are you sure you're not thinking of Asia?

By YashBudini on 6/17/2011 1:20:01 PM , Rating: 2
Are you sure you're not thinking of Asia?

Waste of time trying to pin it down, it's a human problem, ergo global.

By YashBudini on 6/17/2011 12:59:07 PM , Rating: 1
Bribery will be difficult to prove in the short term, because what you have is politicians voting favorably for certain coporations and in return after their term is over they land cushy multi-million consultant jobs at the same firms.

If I had the funding I would research all long gone politicians to see what they are up to, and shortly after showing what they are really doing they would brand me a terrorist (the current witch hunt term)and Faux would go nuts on me. It wouldn't really matter if they are exposed or not, because odds are the statute of limitations would have made them immune to any charges.

Nobody is willing to cut off their own money supply, especially one as profitable as this.

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By Uncle on 6/17/2011 12:07:00 PM , Rating: 2
Last time I checked the laws were still on the books. I've said this many a times, another name for lobbying is INFLUENCE PEDDLING, which is against the law. The politicians renamed it to lobbying, added some rules that a truck can illegally drive through. This is the reason were in the mess we are.
I disagree with your statement"that lobbying should be allowed so that companies can state their cases to the government,", This is no different then the "Black tie Affairs" whereby you pay $2500 to get in to rub elbows with who ever to help influence his thinking. The average person can't afford to go and most politicians haven't got the time of day to see their average voters.

By Reclaimer77 on 6/17/2011 12:15:07 PM , Rating: 3
LOL you're really THAT naive aren't you?

Ok so make lobbying illegal. Fine. Who's going to ENFORCE that law? Civilians? Or do you actually believe some Government enforcement division is going to come down on the hand that feeds it? Their just a part of the same chain of power, greed, and control!

I think you guys are kidding yourself if you think anything will change. These people can literally do WHATEVER they want. Our Countries most sacred and binding document of law, the Constitution, is raped on a daily basis. Laws are broken by politicians and they are completely cavalier about it, why? Because they know those laws don't apply to them. They are part of the "Ruling Class".

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By Motoman on 6/17/2011 2:43:15 PM , Rating: 2
Then you make lobbying illegal and you start putting them all in jail.

After a while, either the rest of them get the hint, or they all wind up in jail. Then you elect new people to office who saw what happened to the last batch.

By Reclaimer77 on 6/17/2011 4:03:38 PM , Rating: 2
Then you make lobbying illegal and you start putting them all in jail.

Who? Who's going to do that? When is the last time you heard of a politician going to jail? They break laws, believe me.

By EricMartello on 6/17/2011 2:45:29 PM , Rating: 3
Then it's time to take up arms and remind the "ruling class" that they are vastly outnumbered by the "non-ruling class". The constitution says we have a duty and responsibility to overthrow any government who ceases to serve the interests of its people. Laws like this serve no persons' interest.

By BailoutBenny on 6/17/2011 4:55:31 PM , Rating: 2
The constitution doesn't say that. The declaration of independence does, though. If you think about the "duty to overthrow a government that does not serve the interests of its people" a little more, you will realize why anarchists have been right the whole time.

By EricMartello on 6/18/2011 5:55:49 PM , Rating: 2
Well it should be in the constitution, but the Declaration of Independence is just as relevant of a document to the fundamentals of the USA.

I don't think anarchism is a good solution, partly because it isn't even clear what anarchism really means, but I do support a drastic reduction of the US Government and a much tighter leash on its power...both at the federal and state levels.

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By wiz220 on 6/17/2011 12:16:14 PM , Rating: 2
I agree for the most part except that I don't really think corporations should have any lobbies. Government exists to serve the people and no matter what a Supreme Court ruling says, corporations are not people. From a governmental standpoint the goals of a corporation are at best wildly different from and at worst completely contrary to the goals of an individual. Corporations should be free to run their businesses but when they start getting favors from government we are no longer democratic, we are fascist.

By YashBudini on 6/17/2011 1:08:12 PM , Rating: 4
The purpose of considering a viewpoint is to understand it, and to best address it, not necessarily to agree with it.

Sociopaths have viewpoints, the commonalities they may share with corporate viewpoints may seem a tad unpleasant.

RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By 91TTZ on 6/17/2011 3:43:21 PM , Rating: 2
So when a group of people get together and form a business, they now should have LESS rights than a "person"? I'm not sure I can get on board with that.

It's not like those members of the company lose their right to vote once they form a company, they're still a "team" that can pool their votes together if they want to. But the company itself is not a citizen and doesn't get to vote.

By YashBudini on 6/17/2011 6:47:50 PM , Rating: 2
So a group of people that are shareholders are good, but another group, who act pretty in only their own interest, like shareholders, are bad. What's the name of the second group? Unions.

The problem in both cases is indiviual ethics, if they were ever present, are set aside while the leader of the group decides what to do. The rest merely follow.

You can call them what you want, both are mobs.

By Motoman on 6/17/2011 3:16:25 PM , Rating: 1
Corporations are nothing more, and nothing less, than a group of people.

A corporation exists by virtue of having a board of directors and executives. Whatever the corporation does, those people can be held accountable.

And it's not just corporations that do lobbying - any group that has money can buy a lobbyist to buy politicians for them. Like Greenpeace, the Teamsters, and the KKK. Anybody. If you had the money, you could just buy your own lobbyist to get whatever you yourself wanted done in Washington.

By chiadog on 6/18/2011 8:22:30 AM , Rating: 2
The congress hears your concerns and will address this problem in ways best for our citizens.

*The above message is brought to you by _____(Insert Random Megacorp Here)_____

By Chilly8 on 6/20/2011 4:02:50 AM , Rating: 2
TYhe one problem with taking the money out of lobbying is that there might be even worse laws on the books now.

Privacy tools, such as VPNs would be illlegal now, if it were not for the fact that money from big business keeps t hat from happening. VPNs are also used by businesses for secure remote access to their networks.

Congress is even more bought and paid for by corporate America, than by the entertainment industry. That is why attempts to ban or restrict the use of encryption products have gone nowhere, so far.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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