Embed a Copyrighted Video, Go Straight to Jail

Let me start off by saying, unless Senators Amy Klobuchar,  and Christopher Coons want to ensure that the Democratic Party is labled the anti-net-freedom party, this bill will never get out of committee (Yes Republican John Cronyn is also a co-sponsor, but he’s such a luddite, he may think the internet is a series of tubes).  In short, the bill attempts to reconcile existing civil and criminal copyright law to extend to embedding videos on Youtube and other sites, where individual views may be considered considered “performances”.  From Tech Dirt:

Supporters of this bill claim that all it’s really doing is harmonizing US copyright law’s civil and criminal sections. After all, the rights afforded under copyright law in civil cases cover a list of rights: reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works or perform the work. The rules for criminal infringement only cover reproducing and distributing — but not performing. So, supporters claim, all this does is “harmonize” copyright law and bring the criminal side into line with the civil side by adding “performance rights” to the list of things.

If only it were that simple. But, of course, it’s not. First of all, despite claims to the contrary, there’s a damn good reason why Congress did not include performance rights as a criminal/felony issue: because who would have thought that it would be a criminal act to perform a work without permission? It could be infringing, but that can be covered by a fine. When we suddenly criminalize a performance, that raises all sorts of questionable issues.

The penalties for infringement are very harsh, according to the article, 10 “performances” could land an individual 5 years in prison.   The definition of “performance” is ambiguous, but it could mean that if you post a copyrighted video on youtube, and it gets 10 “views”, it may be enough to get 5 year term.  You can view the full text of the bill here.

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About James Skyles

James Skyles is the Owner and Principal Attorney at Skyles Law Group, LLC. He is a 2008 graduate of Ave Maria School of Law, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Prior to graduation from Ave Maria, James earned his bachelors degree from the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. James also holds a Certificate in Advanced European and Global Practice(Summa cum Laude) from Central European University in Budapest Hungary. Prior to founding Skyles Law Group, James was the General Counsel for the Franklin Center for Government Integrity, a nationally recognized pioneer in the field of online journalism. James is licensed attorney in State of Illinois, and is a member of the American Bar Assocation, the Illinois State Bar Association, The Chicago Bar Assocation, the Asian American Bar Association, and the Phi Alpha Delta National Law Fraternity. Aside from his legal work, James also has a passion for Italian gelato, and creates recipes as a hobby. He plans on publishing a book on the history of ice cream.

Posted on June 14, 2011, in Articles, copyright law, cybercrime, legislation and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

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