Hello again and welcome back to another Sunday Morning Coming Down. This week’s missive comes from a strange place and may not seemingly affect the music industry. But then, upon further examination (an SMCD specialty), it very well could.
Introducing Senate bill S. 978
Courtesy of the video game tournament site Shoryuken.com came an article they had stumbled upon from ArsTechnica. That article was a report that Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and John Cornyn (R-TX) have introduced legislation that could, effectively, turn streaming unauthorized online content into a felony.
According to the ArsTechnica article, the exact wording of the bill - known for now as S. 978 - was not available but they did have a brief sent by Senator Klobuchar saying that, “under current law, ‘reproducing’ and ‘distributing’ copyrighted works are felony charges and cover P2P transfers and Web downloads. But streaming is a ‘public performance’ rather than a ‘distribution’—and holding a public performance without a proper license is not a felony. S. 978 adds ‘public performance’ to the felony list.
Online streamers can now face up to five years in prison and a fine in cases where:
They show 10 or more ‘public performances’ by electronic means in any 180-day period and:
The total retail value of those performances tops $2,500 or the cost of licensing such performances is greater than $5,000.”
Shoryuken.com picked up on the article because this could very well affect how video game tournaments, specifically the annual EVO Championship Series, would be covered online. Normally, several matches a year, most notably the semi-final and final matches of most any tournament held around the world, are streamed live online so followers of online sports and competitions can watch live as their favorite players vie for the title, as it were. They certainly have cause for concern, since game makers like Capcom and Midway could very well pull the plug on any live coverage of any tournament once this law goes into effect.
Movies and television? Of course this would affect them. The MPAA’s chief lobbyist (officially known as the Association’s “head of Government Affairs for the MPAA) has already lauded the introduction of the bill, saying that "criminals are stealing, trafficking, and profiting off the investment that our workers devote to creating the quality films and TV shows that entertain a worldwide audience and bolster the American economy. ... We thank Senators Klobuchar and Cornyn for introducing this important legislation to standardize the legal treatment of online content theft and helping ensure that federal law keeps pace with the changing face of criminal activity."