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Crime Piracy

Administration Seeks To Make Unauthorized Streaming A Felony 398

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the share-your-way-to-jail dept.
wabrandsma writes "From the Washington Post: 'You probably remember the online outrage over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) copyright enforcement proposal. Last week, the Department of Commerce's Internet Policy Task Force released a report on digital copyright policy that endorsed one piece of the controversial proposal: making the streaming of copyrighted works a felony. As it stands now, streaming a copyrighted work over the Internet is considered a violation of the public performance right. The violation is only punishable as a misdemeanor, rather than the felony charges that accompany the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted material.'"
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Administration Seeks To Make Unauthorized Streaming A Felony

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  • Why not? (Score:5, Funny)

    by blackicye (760472) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @04:07AM (#44484295)

    They might as well make it a capital offense with a mandatory death penalty while they're at it.

    • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Informative)

      by WGFCrafty (1062506) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @04:15AM (#44484327)

      Won't happen. Then all the private corporations running prisons won't get money.

      They're trying to build a prison for you and me to live in.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Trying?

      • You never think you know why.
      • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @04:46AM (#44484425)

        Those private corporation using prison labour is basically the US reintroducing slavery by the back door, mostly same color as last time too
        it is illegal to import goods made by slave or prison labour....

      • They're trying to build a prison for you and me to live in.

        Mission Accomplished

      • For you and I, for you and I , for you and I.
        They're trying to build a prison,
        For you and me,
        Oh baby, you and me.

        I'm the only one that caught the reference?
        Good taste man.

    • Re:Why not? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by CastrTroy (595695) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @04:33AM (#44484385) Homepage
      I would like to know how streaming content to watch it is any different then actually downloading the content. From the way the summary is worded, it seems like if you stream the content to the client, it's only a misdemeanor, however, if the client downloads the content, you are committing a felony. But the server really has no control what happens with the data that is sent to the client. It may be set up in such a way as to "stream" the content to the client, but the client can save the stream if they want, and watch it later. It could be argued that all copyright data going over the internet is being streamed. I'm not saying we need harsher sentencing, for any of this stuff, but it doesn't make sense to have different penalties for serving a file for streaming, and serving a file for download, when it's really up to the receiving end what happens to that data in the end.
      • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by bfandreas (603438) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @05:41AM (#44484577)
        Welcome to the eSports scene.
        There are a lot of unofficial tournaments for a lot of games. So that could possibly become a felony. Let alone all those YouTube Let's Plays which are also a thing.
        I'm sure they intend this for video/music, but as always our lawmakers are a decade behind everybody else.

        This, ladies and gentlemen, is a prime example for the overcriminalization in the US. What should be a civil case where some corp should sue a private citizen becomes a thing with a DA and a possible prison sentence.
        And people wonder why prisons are overflowing...
        • Don't forget real live sports events on Pay-per-View - one person pulls the Superbowl from their cable company's TV service, then re-streams it live over their cable company's Internet service. Cable sharing.

          • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Informative)

            by bfandreas (603438) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @06:14AM (#44484699)
            That propably is also one of its intended purposes. But I reckon the law will be broadly termed, as per usual, so it will catch some unintended fish in its nets.
            Laws like this are usually written by lobbyists and introduced into the house by some congressman. Depending on which lobby is writing it you can assume that it will not take other interests into consideration.

            Frankly the US and UK legislative has gone far beyond a joke. Some time ago I decided that it propably were best to follow whichever law makes sense and keep a low profile. Try as you may you will always be in violation of some law or provision. Best to ignore them altogether and get on with your life.
            • by Ash Vince (602485) *

              Try as you may you will always be in violation of some law or provision.

              Maybe, but the real question should always come down to whether a jury will convict you.

              You mention the UK, that make me think you are actually a UK citizen like me (sorry if I am wrong). In our case we are pretty lucky in terms of still having some semblance of a legal aid system that allows us to actually go to court if we think we broke the law but they jury would agree with our reasons for doing so and getting the state to pay for our defence. The problem with copyright law though is that most of the po

              • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

                by bfandreas (603438) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @08:14AM (#44485365)

                Try as you may you will always be in violation of some law or provision.

                Maybe, but the real question should always come down to whether a jury will convict you.

                You mention the UK, that make me think you are actually a UK citizen like me (sorry if I am wrong). In our case we are pretty lucky in terms of still having some semblance of a legal aid system that allows us to actually go to court if we think we broke the law but they jury would agree with our reasons for doing so and getting the state to pay for our defence. The problem with copyright law though is that most of the population eligible for jury duty (that includes me) actually supports it. Without copyright law you would be able to take other peoples digital works and then sell them as your own, that is simply not right.

                There are a million problems with copyright law as it stands but throwing it all in the bin and having nothing in its place would be no better apart from for people who just want free access to everything and have no money to pay for it. The only time I think we can get rid of copyright law completely is when we also do away with the concept of money.

                See, this is where I think you are wrong. For copyright to exist you only need a law that defines the concept and limits its duration and point out that companies can transfer licenses. The rest is best left to civil law. Criminal law is for clear-cut crimes. You leave the grey areas to civil law. And copyright is at the moment not only grey but also very very muddy.

                Copyright was introduced to have a framework how a creator can benefit from his works and to control its distribution. Afterwards it was supposed to be transferred into the public domain because that's what defines culture. Cultural heritage was always produced by somebody. Now they turn this into a rent-seeking scheme and by my definition of culture which belongs to everybody we now have corporate ownership of everything that was produced during the last 50 years. Or to put it bluntly: our culture hasn't progressed any during the last 50 years. Now we pile criminal law on top of that.

                In my book furthering of our culture is much more important in the long term than the revenue of BMG/Universal/Sony/whoever in the next financial quarter. This overstatement of the copyright holder's rights have resulted in quite a lot works that simply have been lost either by destruction or by not being released anymore. If such a long copyright(which is a granted priviledge, an exception of the default which is public domain) is to be upheld then there should be strings attached. Like the copyright holder demonstrating that he is preserving the work for the time when it enters the public domain.


                I repeat: copyright is a priviledge and should be treated as such.

        • by Ash Vince (602485) *

          What should be a civil case where some corp should sue a private citizen becomes a thing with a DA and a possible prison sentence.

          The problem with keeping things like this as civil torts is that they become unenforceable so the infringer effectively wins. Maybe that is your aim by saying this but then why not simply roll out the usual "there should be no such thing as copyright" argument instead.

          If we made this covered as a civil tort then what do you give back if you stream the superbowl or something to 50,000 people over the internet when it eventually reaches court? You had a licence that enabled you to watch it over cable TV or wh

      • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rtb61 (674572) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @06:59AM (#44484965) Homepage

        Easy to make streaming a felony simple requires that the person who did not copy the copyrighted work is now legally liable for the person who did copy the copyrighted work. The analogy is if you saw someone rob a bank, you are now the person who robbed the bank and are required to prove you are not. To stream is to watch a copy being produced upon someone else's computer and they have expressly given you permission to do so, nothing more nor nothing less. You do not take legal liability for their actions except in the delusion of the currently totally corrupt US government. Basically they are now stating you are guilty of any crime you witness, regardless of what you do, until you can prove your innocence.

      • by tgd (2822)

        I would like to know how streaming content to watch it is any different then actually downloading the content. From the way the summary is worded, it seems like if you stream the content to the client, it's only a misdemeanor, however, if the client downloads the content, you are committing a felony. But the server really has no control what happens with the data that is sent to the client. It may be set up in such a way as to "stream" the content to the client, but the client can save the stream if they want, and watch it later. It could be argued that all copyright data going over the internet is being streamed. I'm not saying we need harsher sentencing, for any of this stuff, but it doesn't make sense to have different penalties for serving a file for streaming, and serving a file for download, when it's really up to the receiving end what happens to that data in the end.

        I think more than a few people on here are misreading or misinterpreting the article. They're talking about the person sourcing the stream, not the person consuming the stream.

        It IS a felony already to make copyrighted material available for download without permission from the copyright holder. But if the intent is to stream it to a viewer without download, its not because its deemed broadcasting without a license. It seems this is just trying to make both consistent crimes. (I'm not passing any judgment o

      • by todrules (882424)
        I'm not sure exactly why they chose only "streaming." Also, from the summary (which quotes the article), the way they have it written, it's all streaming of copyrighted works. Wouldn't it just be the unauthorized streams?

        making the streaming of copyrighted works a felony. As it stands now, streaming a copyrighted work over the Internet is considered a violation of the public performance right.

        So, does this mean that even the legal broadcasters are committing felonies? Or is this just poor writing? I would think it should read "making the streaming of unauthorized copyrighted works a felony." The sentence then takes on an entirely different meaning.

  • by gringer (252588) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @04:13AM (#44484315)

    Ah yes, the good old cat and mouse game of copyright law, making enemies of consumers. Would this mean multicast streaming [wikipedia.org] is also illegal, even if you're not aware if anyone is watching? Presumably yes, but I'm sure if it is, something else will be found that skirts the law.

  • Incorrect Priorities (Score:5, Informative)

    by StoneyMahoney (1488261) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @04:22AM (#44484349)

    This means that streaming a movie from an unauthorised source will be considered a more serious offense than vandalism, trespassing, simple assault and prostitution. Tag this one "overreaction, provoked, lobbyist, bad".

  • by korbulon (2792438) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @04:23AM (#44484351)

    We are all criminals.

  • YouTube...? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by beaverdownunder (1822050) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @04:24AM (#44484355)

    Won't this effectively make the posting of YouTube clips on websites / blogs / social media a felony also?

    Sheesh.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      Just think, youtube would also become an enabler of the said crime.

    • They propose to change (mostly commercial) streaming of stolen works from a misdemeanor to a felony. Nothing becomes illegal that's not already illegal. If you were allowed to stream it, you still are. Fair use isn't changed. The change is to treat streaming the same as downloading.
    • by Trogre (513942)

      Good, good, you're starting to get it...

  • Surely this is streaming of copyrighted works on the internet? So they are saying this is a misdemeanour today and should become a felony? I suppose there is something similar for Android?
  • Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by bradley13 (1118935) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @04:32AM (#44484383) Homepage

    Why not? Everything else is a felony. Heck, let's go the next step and just toss the entire population in jail.

    What was the title of that book? Three Felonies a Day [amazon.com]? By now, it's surely four or five...

  • A sort of betrayal (Score:5, Insightful)

    by korbulon (2792438) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @04:35AM (#44484391)

    The horrible transparency of the administration's agenda is staggering: fuck civil liberties; to hell with consumer rights; let's make civil infractions criminal offenses; let's use jackboot tactics to go after marijuana users; let's viciously and vindictively persecute those who try to expose government and corporate indiscretions by siccing our most petty, pea-brained people on them; let's lie, cheat, steal, bully, badger, and spy on everyone who could possibly be a threat. Essentially, the absolute primacy of government and corporate interests over individual rights. The only ones shittier are the Republicans, but not by much.

    I honestly thought Obama would be different. Fuck me, right?!

    • Why?

      • by korbulon (2792438)
        Because obviously I'm not a golfer.
        • I don't get the reference.

          I just wondered why you thought this representative of the elite would be any better than the previous representative of the elite.

          • by korbulon (2792438) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @08:23AM (#44485453)

            Look, I never thought he would be the messiah to bring balance to the force; but neither did I think that he would be turn out to be the head of such a heavy-handed and intrusive governmental apparatus. I had the simple hope that he would backpedal much of the dangerous expansion of federal powers that started in the Bush years, especially homeland, tsa and patriot act. But none of that shit. It certainly didn't get any better, maybe even got a little worse.

            The betrayal doesn't only refer to that of the Obama administration, it is rather the abandonment by what passes for the left in this country of liberal principles, lines you just don't cross have been crossed. For the 'left' as much as the 'right', it's not about any sort of enlightened principles, it's only about winning winning winning. They're competing strains of the same virus. If you go to moveon.org you won't find a peep about the nsa surveillance, which is an implict acknowledgment that they're an appendage of the administration. It's simply jaw-dropping. I feel like I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce and got egg noodles and ketchup.

            Also, perhaps most urgently, you need to see 'The Big Lebowski'. By 3 o'clock.

    • As you go through your list of things you dislike in this administration, look out at surveys and see that a good portion of Americans support those things. Part of it is ignorance, but part of it is an attitude of, "great, let's throw those druggies in jail."

      So if you want to know how they get away with it, that's how.
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      I honestly thought Obama would be different. Fuck me, right?!

      It's too bad you didn't do some research. There was no reason to believe that Obama would be any better, unless you're a racist.

    • by tgd (2822)

      The horrible transparency of the administration's agenda is staggering: fuck civil liberties; to hell with consumer rights; let's make civil infractions criminal offenses; let's use jackboot tactics to go after marijuana users; let's viciously and vindictively persecute those who try to expose government and corporate indiscretions by siccing our most petty, pea-brained people on them; let's lie, cheat, steal, bully, badger, and spy on everyone who could possibly be a threat. Essentially, the absolute primacy of government and corporate interests over individual rights. The only ones shittier are the Republicans, but not by much.

      I honestly thought Obama would be different. Fuck me, right?!

      They're not making civil infractions into criminal offenses in this case. Like MP3 downloads vs uploads, this is about the people who provide the material, not people who consume it. There's a legal inconsistency right now in that if you -- as the server, not the consumer -- make available copyrighted material that the end user retains possession of, its a felony but if you give them a viewer and they can just watch it, its not.

      The fact is, copyright is the law in the US and its not likely to change. Incons

      • They're not making civil infractions into criminal offenses in this case. Like MP3 downloads vs uploads, this is about the people who provide the material, not people who consume it. There's a legal inconsistency right now in that if you -- as the server, not the consumer -- make available copyrighted material that the end user retains possession of, its a felony but if you give them a viewer and they can just watch it, its not.

        The consumer and producer can very well be the same person. I can have music on my home computer, which I stream to my own devices (and nobody else's devices) over the internet. So if there's any music that was copied from a "borrowed" CD, listening to it away from home suddenly is a felony.

    • Mod parent up. I see its at a 5, keep going.
  • It's lost (Score:5, Funny)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @04:37AM (#44484401) Journal
    From the article:

    Bieber spoke out against Klobuchar’s bill, saying the senator should be “locked up—put away in cuffs” while noting he personally thinks it is “awesome” when he sees fans uploading their own covers of his songs.

    If Justin Bieber is against it, how can it ever pass?

    • Re:It's lost (Score:5, Insightful)

      by serviscope_minor (664417) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @05:48AM (#44484601) Journal

      Bieber spoke out against Klobucharâ(TM)s bill,

      Well, that's actually quite remarkable.

      For all the complaining about how "the masses" don't care, this person actually is relevant to a substantial demographic who generally neither know nor care about such things. The fact that he is speaking out is a good thing and should not be mocked.

      I now have considerably more respect for the guy.

    • If Justin Bieber is against it, how can it ever pass?

      Justin who?? O.o

    • by tgd (2822)

      From the article:

      Bieber spoke out against Klobuchar’s bill, saying the senator should be “locked up—put away in cuffs” while noting he personally thinks it is “awesome” when he sees fans uploading their own covers of his songs.

      If Justin Bieber is against it, how can it ever pass?

      If he is the rights owner to the songs, he can give people permission to do anything they want with it already. (Now, odds are he's not, so his beef is with his recording contracts not with the US government.)

  • Proposal (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DarkOx (621550) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @04:51AM (#44484445) Journal

    Traditionally the copyright system was to give authors the ability to impose civil liabilities on those who infringed upon their works. It was incumbent upon them to identify who was doing the infringing and file a legal action. Their lobby has shifted this burden onto the people by criminalizing copyright violations, effective turning our public law enforcement into their own private investigators on our dime.

    Sine the general public won't likely accept my libertarian view that we should simply reduce the governments capacity to engage in law enforcement to the point where it /must/ focus only on seriously disruptive crimes. Let me get out of character and propose a TAX. Its only fair after all those who use the service should pay.

    How about we say: Any entity that engages in the distribution, sale, or licensing of copyrighted works in the form of recorded music, finished films and movies, software, or long form narratives for a profit shall be subject to the copyright enforcement levy; with the exception of original authors engaging in a single one time transfer of all copyright associated with a work. Entities which meet this criteria shall be required to report what part of their revenues are associated with these activities. The tax rate shall be determined by the GAO estimate of costs incurred by federal law enforcement related to copyright enforcement. The tax rate shall not be less than 1% and shall not exceed 1000% of the revenues upon which it is levied. (And get broad public support) proceeds from this tax level shall be used to provide scholarships to low income college students.

    • I'd propose one amendment to your "copyright enforcement tax", entities can waive their access to using federal resources to prosecute copyright infringers and will thus be exempt from this tax. Waiving access means that you can't have Joe Uploader prosecuted for a felony because he distributed your copyrighted work without permission, however you can still seek the usual civil penalties. In fact, someone could even make a logo for companies to put on their works to advertise that they are waiving access

  • Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @04:59AM (#44484467)

    My emails are my works, I never authorised the NSA to stream them anywhere, let's throw them all into jail.

  • by overmoderated (2703703) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @05:05AM (#44484481)
    Should stop buying American music, movies and whatever other junk they are selling. Stay on your fucking island.
    • by tlambert (566799)

      Should stop buying American music, movies and whatever other junk they are selling. Stay on your fucking island.

      They're not buying it, are they? Aren't they just unauthorized streaming it online? That's what region codes are for, right? To break up media markets by region so that they can charge different prices in different regions, while physical goods all end up the same price as the tariff walls get dropped, one by one, until human labor is a commodity?

  • by wonkey_monkey (2592601) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @05:13AM (#44484499) Homepage

    Administration Seeks To Make Unauthorized Streaming A Felony

    Which administration would that be?

    For the sense-of-humour impaired, I'm being facetious.

  • Looks like the content kleptocrats are "getting their revenge in first", as it were.

  • by dbIII (701233) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @05:43AM (#44484585)
    "rather than the felony charges that accompany the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted material"
    Such a thing should always have remained a civil matter between the copyright owners and the infringers, and for the state to get involved and come down more heavily than on even parking infringements is IMHO a perversion of justice.
  • Corrupt (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    More corruption, from the world's most corrupt regime.
    This is clearly no in the interest of the people. Passing this legistlation, shows clearly who the ruling junta actually represents.
    The Republican/Democrat Party is totally corrupt.

  • by Tangential (266113) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @06:00AM (#44484639) Homepage
    Only criminals will have Slingboxes.
  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @06:50AM (#44484917) Homepage

    This bill is going to do nothing but help those Hollywood liberals that are destroying America. You want nothing to do with it.

    (just trying to help kill this thing)

  • by wbr1 (2538558) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @07:18AM (#44485043)
    What if I have legally obtained, copyrighted content at home and stream it to my device in another location. It is for me only, but I am streaming copyrighted works in an unauthorized manner.

    Does that make me a felon? (Not counting the number of laws I have inadvertently broken in this screwed up country).

  • by oh_my_080980980 (773867) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @07:43AM (#44485147)
    So I guess money laundering is considered a misdemeanor....
  • by gallondr00nk (868673) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @07:50AM (#44485183)

    The Washington Post article itself says that it's simply a recommendation by a report published by the Department of Commerce.

    With any luck, it won't be acted upon. The time to worry is when it starts being pushed as a change to the law, not now.

  • by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Tuesday August 06, 2013 @10:14AM (#44486559)

    I mean you should be able to stream for your own personal usage, but streaming to "the Internet" should be the equivalent of whatever penalty is given to someone selling pirated movies on the street corner, period.

    I know it is so easy to want to decry this and claim our rights and freedoms are being violated, but I truly do not believe that anybody has a right to take someone elses work and redistribute it without permission. I am tired of the people advocating for the "right" to take a copyrighted piece of work and share it will millions of people. You do not, and never will, have that right. You did not invest millions into making the product, pay for the redistribution rights and therefore your rights and freedoms are NOT being violated here, you should be clearly penalized for breaking that law.

    Please stop lumping these kinds of articles with "Freedom of Speech" or Human Rights. Its is incredibly retarded to associate this with stealing digital content. It would be the same as someone pleading that stealing a car is their human right or Freedom of Speech, but you are NEVER going to win a court case for stealing a car using those arguments. Nobody goes online and cries about how their human rights and freedoms were violated when they are thrown in jail for stealing a car.

    And let's put it this way, you would only ever lend your car to family and close friends but you are not going to freely share your car with strangers, so the law should allow you to share content with friends, but not millions of strangers. I think that in all these laws there needs to be a physical analogy associated with digital content. No one was ever fined for lending a DVD to a friend, never. However make a million copies of that DVD and send it to a million people, you are clearly in violation of the law.

    As long as the law is explicit about personal fair use versus mass distribution then I have no problems with it and neither should you. Sharing a streaming service with millions of strangers should be rightfully fined, to argue otherwise is pretentious and entitled and to claim it freedom of speech is retarded.

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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