Because when you think coronavirus relief, you definitely think copyright and punishing illegal streamers.
The U.S. Congress unveiled the latest proposed spending bill Monday, and while the $900 billion package made news for the (arguably insufficient) unemployment aid and stimulus checks included within, those aren’t the details turning heads. Rather, it’s the language governing illegal streaming and copyright that are making waves.
For starters, the Hollywood Reporter highlighted a section of the proposed bill which it reports would make it a felony to illegally stream content for profit. Importantly, Section 211, titled “unauthorized streaming,” appears to be targeted at the people originating the streamed content.
In other words, this is not about you pirating a football game at home. Still, that it was included in the bill at all is raising eyebrows — even in Congress itself.
“This is why Congress needs time to actually read this package before voting on it,” wrote Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. “Members of Congress have not read this bill.”
This is why Congress needs time to actually read this package before voting on it.
Members of Congress have not read this bill. It’s over 5000 pages, arrived at 2pm today, and we are told to expect a vote on it in 2 hours.
This isn’t governance. It’s hostage-taking. https://t.co/JpBbEHHkVG
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 21, 2020
Section 212 of the proposed bill, meanwhile, is the “copyright small claims” part. Specifically, the proposed bill refers to the “Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act 6 of 2020” also referred to as the “CASE Act of 2020.”
And just what is the CASE Act, you ask? The Electronic Frontier Foundation has some thoughts.
“Under the CASE Act, people could file copyright infringement claims with an obscure body, under the auspices of an office most people have no experience with,” reads a statement from the EFF. “And that board could decide that the subjects of those claims owe up to $30,000 for activities as common as sharing memes, images, and videos online.”
Yup. Sharing memes.
Notably, these are just two items in the 5,000-plus page bill. If only Congress had time to read the thing before signing it into law (there’s a Monday at midnight deadline), they might discover some of the other screwed up things slipped in by their three-martini-lunch-loving colleagues. Oh well.