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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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RE: They need to take the money out of lobbying.
By Motoman on 6/17/2011 11:08:29 AM , Rating: 0
Yes, and if there were no people, there would be no companies. Ergo...yes they are.

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.

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings

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