Imagine your young child did the cutest thing. While hearing Justin Bieber on the radio, your little three year old start lip syncing it. How cute and funny! Now you really feel the need to share it, so you grab the video camera. You make the video, upload it to YouTube and even put on the video the name and artist of the song. Cute – right?
Well if committing a felony is cute, then OK.
A bill currently in the Senate, S. 978, would make doing just that a felony and could land you in prison for up to five years:
For publicly performing copyrighted material and uploading those to sites like YouTube, the bill presents a very steep penalty… up to five years in prison.
Ben Sidbury practices copyright law, including audio recordings and digital media.
“The way the statute is written… It would now criminalize anybody that performs a copyrighted work, which is essentially nowadays any song under the sun,” said Sidbury.
So, YouTube sensations like 16 year-old Keenan Cahill would be guilty under the bill… even if he doesn’t make any money.
“In theory at least, the record companies or the Department of Justice could go after a 9-year old or a 12 year old or a 30 year old for publicly performing a song,” said Sidbury.
The bill’s sponsors are Sen. Amy Klobuchar [D-MN], Chris Coons [D-DE] and John Cornyn [R-TX], so it does have bi-partisan support.
But why is this so bad? Well welcome to RightHaven, a company which has made news by exposing loopholes in copyright laws and going after the unsuspecting in civil court.
RightHaven exemplifies everything wrong with these kind of laws. They love going after smaller sites and people, who don’t really have the money to fight. They do every dirty trick in the book to try and pinch every last penny out of these people. Luckily the federal courts is shooting down RightHaven right now, but this proposed law will just give them even more fuel for the fire.
It pains me to see someone like Klobuchar and Coons sponsoring this kind of bill. These are Senators that always talk about standing up for the people, but instead they are giving the corporations more ammunition to screw over the people. If they don’t either drastically alter this bill or drop it all together (I doubt that will happen – this is legislation requested by the Obama White House), then I can only hope that this is their final terms in the Senate.
And I doubt I’ll be the only one wishing for the end of their tenure.
While our country is heavily divided, one thing most Americans can agree on is a need for Washington to actually work for the people and not the corporations. Washington constantly works to give corporate America everything they want. They get bigger tax breaks, less regulation and new laws, while the average American citizen gets screwed in the end. This bill just proves that this injustice on our Democracy doesn’t discriminate against partisan beliefs. It’s time for Washington to start working for us again, and a first good step is dropping this junk law!