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The COVID-19 stimulus bill is full of copyright enforcement laws

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The latest US COVID-19 stimulus bill is the perfect vehicle for passing unrelated legislation, because concessions will be made to avoid holding up money for the public—even if it’s not nearly enough money. As a result, Congress isn’t simply voting for or against a $600 per person stimulus package, unemployment benefits, and other acts related to COVID-19 relief today. It’s voting for a massive government funding plan that includes thousands of pages of unrelated legislation, including some important changes to online copyright law.

The change most relevant to you, as a person who plays games and uses the internet, comes in an act called CASE, but I’ll start with a different copyright-related part of the bill, because it’s being misunderstood in some cases. There’s a section from Republican Senator Thom Tillis which defines a felony for operating a service dedicated to providing illegal streams, and I’ve seen this rendered as something that will ‘make illegal streaming a felony’ in general—as in, ‘you can go to jail for streaming Nintendo games on Twitch.’ That’s not really what it says.

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