We’ve seen a lot of suggestions lately that new legislation aimed at criminals who steal and disseminate American-made movies, television shows, live sporting events, and other creative works would lock up YouTube lip-syncing babies, including this editorial from DailyKos.
But it’s simply not true. The Commercial Felony Streaming Act (S. 978) is intended for criminals engaged in massive theft that seek to profit off the hard work of others.
That’s another important point – this kind of streaming is actually already illegal, but it’s classified as a misdemeanor, not a felony. The Commercial Felony Streaming Act toughens the penalty for this behavior to close a loophole in current law that imposes weaker penalties for streaming illegal content than for downloading illegal content via peer-to-peer transfers. Streaming and downloading are different technologies, but criminals are using them for the same purpose—stealing movies and TV shows made by the millions of men and women whose work in the entertainment industry helps support them and their families. Super 8 is actually a great demonstration of the power of the creative community to create jobs and generate millions of dollars in economic activity – the film was shot largely in Weirton, West Virginia, employing hundreds of local residents as extras and relying on local businesses to support the shoot, as Kate wrote earlier this month.
This is a straightforward bill with a straightforward mission that we should all be able to agree on – ensuring that when we enjoy the movies or TV, it’s the people who make them that benefit, not the people who steal them.