The Commercial Felony Streaming Act targets websites like YouTube that broadcasters believe are threatening their livelihoods. The bill would make unauthorised streaming of copyrighted material for profit a felony (instead of the misdemeanor it is today), with a penalty of up to five years in prison. It defines illegal streaming as streaming ten or more times within a 180-day period, and earning a total of more than $2,500 in the process.
If the legislation is enacted, it is impossible to say who the enforcement agencies would single out first—the online streaming services themselves, the individuals who post offending content, or the members of the public who use such services. Whoever it is, the bill (if passed) could have a chilling effect on the creation and distribution of online video. In turn, that could seriously hamper innovation, if developers, investors and users fled in fear of running afoul of the vagaries of America’s copyright law.
Complete article on The Economist here.