Senate Moves to Make Illegal Streaming a Felony


The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee approved S. 978, The Commercial Felony Streaming Act, a bill to criminalize streaming of copyright-protected content.

The bill, an amendment to existing copyright law, which was introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and co-sponsored by Sens. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas), isn't targeted at people who stream copyrighted video content for personal purposes but at those who do it for commercial profit.

From the bill:

The offense consists of 10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of one or more copyrighted works; and the total retail value of the performances, or the total economic value of such public performances to the infringer or to the copyright owner, would exceed $2,500; or the total fair market value of licenses to offer performances of those works would exceed $5,000.

Violations could result in a jail sentence of up to five years.

A joint statement by many of the major entertainment industry trade unions hailed the move: "This legislation is an important step forward in our efforts to stem the rising tide of Internet theft that threatens our members’ very livelihoods.”

The bill, which is supported by and modeled on an Obama administration suggestion, will now move on to the full Senate for consideration.