A bill that proposes a felony charge to anyone that "illegally streams copyrighted content online" has been approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee today and will head to the full Senate for a vote. The bill, S. 978 (or "Commercial Felony Streaming Act"), brings the penalties for illegal streaming in line with the penalties for illegal downloading. What used to be a misdemeanor will now become a serious crime if the law gets passed. In other words, illegal streaming could get you a five year sentence in jail. Websites that offer illegally streams of copyrighted content 10 or more times during an 180-day period can be prosecuted if the bill becomes law, although it is unclear how the bill deals with individual streamers.
“From the perspective of video retailers, a sale or rental lost because a potential customer already viewed the motion picture or television program from an infringing copy is just as damaging as a sale or rental lost because the customer viewed the motion picture or television program from an infringing public performance,” said Bo Andersen, president and CEO of the Entertainment Merchants Association.
John Fithian, president and CEO of the National Association of Theater Owners also thinks the bill is a good idea. When the bill was first introduced he said: “It is high time that the punishment fit the crime. Illegal streaming of stolen content is growing and poses a threat to the profitability of movie theaters and to the jobs of our 160,000 employees in the U.S.”
There doesn't seem to be a provision to punish consumers for sharing services such as Netflix with other users, at least. That may change in time for a number of reasons, not the least of which is the popularity of Netflix and many consumers using it as a replacement for traditional cable.
Source: Home Media Magazine