A new law will make simply DMCA claims lead to YouTubers and Twitch streamers getting jail time.
The United States government is, as we all know, extremely functional. It’s so functional, in fact, that it regularly struggles to pass spending bills in order to prevent itself from shutting down. The latest “must-pass” bill, like many of its predecessors, includes controversial measures that wouldn’t be able to pass on their own, negotiated with the high stakes of this particular bill in mind. One of them would turn unauthorized streaming of copyrighted material into a felony.
According to Politico offshoot Protocol, the felony streaming proposal is the work of Republican senator Thom Tillis, who has backed similar proposals previously. It is more or less exactly what it sounds like: A proposal to turn unauthorized commercial streaming of copyrighted material—progressive policy publication The American Prospect specifically points to examples like “an album on YouTube, a video clip on Twitch, or a song in an Instagram story”—into a felony offense with a possible prison sentence. Currently, such violations, no matter how severe, are considered misdemeanors rather than felonies, because the law regards streaming as a public performance. With Twitch currently in the crosshairs of the music industry, such a change would turn up the heat on streamers and Twitch even higher—perhaps to an untenable degree. Other platforms, like YouTube, would almost certainly suffer as well.