Streaming Services Could Be Facing A New (Il)Legal Era

Streaming Services Could Be Facing A New (Il)Legal EraAfter failing to monopolize the internet with absurd legislations such as SOPA, the US Congress is back in business. This week, politicians were presented with another option – that of turning online streaming of copyrighted content into a full pledged felony. Will it work?

As we all know, the music industry is not the only one interested in seeing BitTorrent down on its knees. It goes just the same for movie and TV studios, both of which who have been fighting against peer-to-peer for nearly a decade. Crackdowns happened, thousands (if not hundreds thousands) of internet users found themselves plunged into copyright lawsuits, but online sharing kept on thriving, against all odds.

The US Government found itself in a difficult position, especially after “the internet” proved to be a living organism that has its own will, an organism that has zero tolerance for manipulation and censorship. To balance things out, the “six-strikes” legislation kicked in, a program meant to “educate” US citizens about copyright and copyright infringement.

While people are being taught that downloading and/or sharing copyrighted content on the internet is illegal, streaming services come into play. Their number is increasing by the day, so this is a huge problem. How can one be charged with copyright infringement if he or she hasn’t downloaded or uploaded anything illegal?

This is where the U.S. Register of Copyrights comes to explain, through Maria Pallante, that there must be a way to deal with this problem.

“There is a gap in the law,” she told the Congress at a Wednesday hearing.

“Law enforcement can go after the reproduction or the distribution [of copyright material], and they can go after them in a meaningful way because they are felonies, not misdemeanors. Streaming, whether it’s a football game or music, is a misdemeanor.”

“If there is illegal streaming happening, especially in an egregious, willful, profit-driven kind of way, how do you get at that activity if the best that you can do is go after them for a misdemeanor?” Pallante added.

Henrik Pontén of the Rights Alliance (Rättighetsalliansen) – a Swedish anti-piracy group that tried to banish TPB out of Sweden – said that:

“Streaming is a growing problem.”

“From the creators’ point of view, it’s irrelevant what technology is used, they lose sales and legislators have to deal with that.”

Although streaming services have nothing to worry about right now, a storm is coming, and hell could be in its company.

Stay tuned!