Remember SOPA? It was the bill introduced back in late 2011 that attempted to curb online copyright infrigement; which, in turn, put the Internet into a frenzy. Websites like Wikipedia, Google and Reddit blacked out their pages to protest, and ultimately the bill failed (sigh of relief).
But now, the Obama Administration has introduced a smaller version of SOPA, cutting out the fat and getting straight to the point: the Internet Policy Task Force is proposing to make illegal streaming of copyrighted content a felony. You read right: a FELONY. When broken down (and this is what the record companies want), it would mean that you couldn't upload or stream covers of popular songs on YouTube, or other video sharing sites. Right now, when we illegally stream copyrighted content, it's only considered a violation of "public performance right," which is punishable as a misdemeanor.
So, people who rely on using cover songs to get their voice heard would be pushed back under the rug without any other means of broadcasting themselves—except for writing their own music, of course, but not everyone is gifted with the talent to write. Bills like this are backed by the music and film industry because they believe copyrighted streaming is taking money from their bank accounts, and opponents argue that bills like SOPA skew the sharing of information, which is at the foundation of the Internet.
Even Justin Bieber, who became famous because of his cover songs on YouTube, spoke out against SOPA back in 2011, saying the senator who introduced the bill should be “locked up—put away in cuffs."
Looks like it's time to speak up once again.
UPDATE: here is the text of the proposal from the Internet Policy Task Force, in its entirety. Go to page 45 for the first talk of their suggestion of a felony:
"The Administration and the Copyright Office have both called on Congress to amend the Copyright Act to ensure that illegal streaming to the public can be punished as a felony in the same manner as other types of criminal infringement. The Task Force now repeats that call."
[via Washington Post]