If you missed our mention of it on Friday, the Entertainment Consumer Association (ECA) has begun a letter writing campaign to challenge Bill S. 978, better known as the "anti-streaming bill" that is being pushed in the U.S. Senate. The new message from the ECA can be found below in its entirety, but I urge you to visit action.theeca.com or the ECA's Facebook group to get involved, because if you don't you may find yourself impacted by it after posting a YouTube video or while engaging in some other seemingly innocuous activity:
Bill S. 978 has recently been introduced before the United States Senate. The legislation, if passed, would impose stricter copyright laws and penalties when it comes to streaming, playing, or reproducing copyrighted material. While we believe in the rights of copyright holders, this legislation’s broad language would make criminals out of millions of Americans.
People could face prison for up to 5 years if they:
Make or offer 10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copyrighted works; and
If the total retail value of the performances, or the total economic value of such public performances to the infringer or to the copyright owner, could exceed $2,500; or
If the total fair market value of licenses to offer performances of those works would exceed $5,000.
In plain terms, this means that if you stream your gameplay to show your friends and it’s viewed by 1 or more friends ten times or less, you could go to jail for up to five years. Everyone is at risk. The vagueness regarding value leaves it to copyright holders to determine the possible costs to them. If they want to prosecute through that loophole, they can. A child playing piano of their favorite performer on YouTube, a video of a child dancing to their favorite songs and video game players showing off walk-throughs, speed trials and live streaming their games are all examples of items that’d be prosecutable under this legislation.
There are already strong laws on the books for copyright holders to protect their intellectual property. We don’t need this draconian measure that’d make criminals out of millions of Americans who just want to share their enjoyment of their favorite entertainment.
To take action now by writing to your local Senator, go to: http://action.theeca.com/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=4444
To stay updated on the latest news and information regarding this bill, as well as other digital rights issues, join the ECA’s work group Gamers for Digital Rights: http://www.facebook.com/groups/129111343639
[Full disclosure: GamePolitics is an ECA publication.]