Jail Time for Streaming a Movie? Tillis Wants to Make Illegal Streaming a Felony

RALEIGH – Reelection secured, Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) has smoothly transitioned back to his default mode in DC and the calendar hasn’t even flipped yet. The former NC Speaker of the House is part of an effort to criminalize illegal streaming as a felony.

Senators are working on an omnibus spending bill to avoid a government shutdown, and the bill needs to be passed December 11. Naturally, all sorts of things are being thrown into the pile while the horse trading runs up against the clock.

Among the bills and proposals being added are the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act (CASE Act) the Trademark Modernization Act and a felony streaming proposal pushed by Tillis, which would mean real jail time for illegally watching movies online, illegally listening to music, or re-posting a meme.

Currently, illegal streaming is treated as a misdemeanor.

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While the enforcement of property rights is of course, paramount; the implications of legislative package are negative for a whole host of reasons.

From the Post Millennial:

“[…] “A felony streaming bill would likely be a chill on expression,” Katharine Trendacosta said, associate director of policy and activism with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Sludge reports.

“We already see that it’s hard enough in just civil copyright and the DMCA for people to feel comfortable asserting their rights. The chance of a felony would impact both expression and innovation,” she continued.

The added pieces of legislation have received great pushback from tech trade organizations, library associations and other interest groups. Eighteen different tech organizations have urged congressional leadership to not follow through with the legislation package, according to a letter obtained by Protocol, Friday.

“We respect Congress’s intent to improve our intellectual property system and protect the rights of creators and entrepreneurs,” the Internet Association, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Library Association and fifteen other interest groups wrote in a letter to Congress.

“However, certain aspects of this package of bills will have negative impacts on small- and medium-sized businesses, creators, libraries and their patrons, students, teachers, educational institutions, religious institutions, fan communities, internet users, and free expression,” the letter continued. […]”

But Tillis will cram it into this omnibus nonetheless, because legislation for donors gets the fast lane treatment. Read more from the Post Millennial.

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