Graphic Artists Guild Statement on Commercial Felony Streaming Act
I’ve not had a chance to go over the bill in detail. I’m in deadline hell. I encourage you to read the bill which is presented in its entirety at the Graphic Artists Guild site.
There are crazy rumors circulating on the internet and on blogs that this bill will turn the internet into a police state; parents will go to jail for posting a family video with music or a TV show in the background on YouTube, people will be arrested for singing in public, karaoke, playing Christmas music on a loudspeaker from their house, posting a video of themselves playing a song on an instrument on YouTube, etc.
This bill is to amend current copyright law to include new technology, specifically the illegal streaming of copyrighted motion pictures over the Internet. It is not the introduction of a new copyright bill.
There is no language in this bill that is aimed in any way at individuals making personal use of copyrighted materials as already permitted under the Doctrine of Fair Use, nor does this bill change that section of the law. The Copyright Office website includes a description of what constitutes Fair Use.
The entertainment industry in the US employs far more artists than any other, even more than the publishing industry. Artists create all sorts of content used in television, video, films, games, exhibits, performances and packaging of the recordings of music and motion pictures. The Guild’s mission is to advocate for the economic and professional interests of artists. The entertainment industry, which includes large media companies and corporate copyright owners as well as small studios and independent creators, continues to lose revenue due to increasing piracy of their copyrighted works.
Terry Hart at Copyhype breaks down the bill in detail and explains how it works from the perspective of an IP attorney.
Other factors support the idea that most internet users have no reason to worry about this bill. The Department of Justice’s Prosecuting IP Crimes Manual lists several considerations for US Attorneys to keep in mind when deciding whether to bring charges. Among the considerations specific to IP crimes:
Federal criminal prosecution is most appropriate in the most egregious cases.
Limited federal resources should not be diverted to prosecute an inconsequential case or a case in which the violation is only technical.
Federal prosecution is most appropriate when the questions of intellectual property law are most settled. Victims have a broad range of civil remedies that include restitution, damages, punitive or quasi-punitive damages, injunctions, court costs, and attorneys’ fees.
The sources or manufacturers of infringing goods and services are generally more worthy of prosecution than distributors.