Senators Leahy And Tillis -- Both Strongly Supported By Hollywood -- Ask Merrick Garland To Target Streaming Sites

from the because-of-course dept

As you'll likely recall, at the very end of last year, Senator Thom Tillis, the head of the intellectual property subcommittee in the Senate, slipped a felony streaming bill into the grand funding omnibus. As we noted at the time, this bill -- which was a pure gift to Hollywood -- was never actually introduced, debated, or voted on separately. It was just introduced and immediately slipped into the omnibus. This came almost a decade after Senators had tried to pass a similar bill, connected to the SOPA/PIPA. You may even recall when Senator Amy Klobuchar introduced such a bill in 2011, Justin Bieber actually suggested that maybe Senator Klobuchar should be locked up for trying to turn streaming into a felony.

Of course, this whole thing was a gift to the entertainment industry, who has been a big supporter of Senator Tillis. With the flipping of the Senate, now Senator Leahy has become the chair of the IP subcommittee. As you'll also likely recall, he was the driving force behind the PIPA half of SOPA/PIPA, and has also been a close ally of Hollywood. So close, in fact, that they give him a cameo in every Batman film. Oh, and his daughter is literally one of Hollywood's top lobbyists in DC.

So I guess it's no surprise that Tillis and Leahy have now teamed up to ask new Attorney General Merrick Garland to start locking up those streamers. In a letter sent to Garland, they claim the following:

Unlawful streaming services cost the U.S. economy an estimated $29 billion per year. This illegal activity impacts growth in the creative industries in particular, which combined employ 2.6 million Americans and contribute $229 billion to the economy per year. In short, unlawful streaming is a threat to our creative industries and the economic security and well-being of millions of Americans.

If you've been following these stories long enough, you know where this number comes from. It's from a report put out by the US Chamber of Commerce's "The Global IP Center" and written by NERA Consulting. The US Chamber of Commerce has always been a huge backer of stronger copyright -- mainly because the MPA pays them to be -- and NERA Consulting releases reports for Hollywood all the time. This report is not nearly as bad as some of their earlier reports, but it still makes a ton of assumptions about consumption that seem unlikely to be anywhere close to reality.

Either way, Tillis and Leahy want Garland to get down to doing exactly what Hollywood wants:

Now that have you been confirmed, will you commit to making prosecutions under the PLSA a priority? If so, what steps will you take during your first one hundred days to demonstrate your commitment to combating copyright piracy?

How quickly do you intend to update the U.S. Attorneys manual to indicate prosecutors should pursue actions under the PLSA?

Hurry up and throw streamers in jail!

As if recognizing just how bad this looks, they did include one final point as a sort of nod towards the fact that the DOJ probably shouldn't be going after ordinary everyday streamers.

When updating the U.S. Attorneys manual, what type of guidance do you intend to provide to make clear that prosecutions should only be pursued against commercial piracy services? Such guidance should make clear that the law does not allow the Department to target the ordinary activities of individual streamers, companies pursuing licensing deals in good faith, or internet service providers (ISPs) and should be reflective of congressional intent as reflected in our official record.

Just the fact that they need to include this certainly suggests that they know how dangerous the law they passed was, and how it could easily be misinterpreted and/or abused to go after such individuals or companies.

Hopefully, AG Garland realizes that he's got more important things to do than being Hollywood's latest cop on the beat.

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Filed Under: copyright, felony, felony streaming, justin bieber, merrick garland, pat leahy, priorities, streaming, thom tillis


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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2021 @ 10:53am

    Just the fact that they need to include this certainly suggests that they know how dangerous the law they passed was, and how it could easily be misinterpreted and/or abused to go after such individuals or companies.

    At least they're aware. TBF, I think it'll depend on what Garland thinks of streaming.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Jojo (profile), 22 Mar 2021 @ 11:00am

    Copyright: choking people of their money, repressing people’s rights of expression and censoring enemies, All legally and corporate-approved.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 22 Mar 2021 @ 11:19am

    "the economic security and well-being of millions of Americans"

    Unlike Covid relief that we couldn't be bothered to move forward when it was time to help citizens.
    We want you investigating the imaginary crimes!!!
    Don't bother with those Asians, they probably deserved it.
    Don't look at the Backpage case & see what a clusterfuck it is.
    Don't look at all the other times we claimed the sky was falling, yet they still made movies for me to have cameos in.
    Don't look at the MEGA case and wonder why they hell it is still trying to do something.
    Don't look at all of the sites we've demanded be targeted based on claims the industry never actually bothered to backup & we kept the sites down anyways.
    Don't look into the extortion shakedowns pretending to be copyright claims.

    In the grand scheme of 500K+ dead & massive superspreader events happening right now... the fact they DARE suggest that copyright needs to be a top priority should remind everyone they still don't care if we die.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 22 Mar 2021 @ 11:53am

      Re:

      In the grand scheme of 500K+ dead & massive superspreader events happening right now... the fact they DARE suggest that copyright needs to be a top priority should remind everyone they still don't care if we die.

      Covid has done an extremely good job of showing people's true character, and while a good many have been revealed to be heroes it's still all sorts of disturbing how many sociopaths have been exposed, people who have shown that they quite literally do not care if others die so long as they get what they want or don't have to inconvenience themselves even the slightest.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 22 Mar 2021 @ 11:58am

    If that's how they want to play it...

    As long as we're just making shit up I might as well claim that allowing infringement to run wild and not cracking down on it whenever possible contributes three-hundred billion to the economy and countless jobs, and best of all given how many people create in spite of copyright rather than because of it these days my numbers are likely to be much closer to realty than theirs, even if I just pulled them from my backside.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2021 @ 12:02pm

    Is the bill even constitutional? because it does not look constitutional at all.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2021 @ 2:00pm

    and how it will, once the public eye has moved away, be misinterpreted and/or abused to go after such individuals or companies.

    FTFY

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2021 @ 2:03pm

    you trying to say these fuckers are influenced by the worst, two-faced fucking members of an equally two-faced industry? never would have believed it!!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 22 Mar 2021 @ 2:25pm

    29b$ and 229b$??

    really?
    When they cant even make a decent movie, in recent history. Dont forget that THEATERS are Closed(?).
    How many released movies in the last year?

    Even from the past. There IS a way to Show the number is Correct(maybe). Is IF' you count every sale for every movie, Sold, Broadcast, Cable/sat, Internet, Apple, YT, and every Source that Can show/sell a movie for a Price.
    WORLD WIDE, and Even if they dont own it.

    Would rather wait 6-12 months can Buy it at 1/2 price OR LESS.
    I dont even think, According to Their math, you could get Near that much.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 22 Mar 2021 @ 3:31pm

    🎶Hey, ho ho! You'll cruise to foreign shores🎵...

    Considering our federal government is already glad to drive the US economy to look like those an unindustrialized nation, our officials and capitalists should remember that in most nations, the only access to western culture and big media the peons have is through piracy. Trying to actually pay for media is absurd, and laws to crack down on piracy only give the police another justification to harass, raid and kill those communities they don't like (whether or not they're committing crime).

    As capitalism is working out for fewer and fewer folk, it's probably not a good idea to rekindle old scams that are obviously rent-seeking.

    Here in the states, cracking down on streaming isn't going to make anyone more money. Either people will find other ways to gain access, get better at doing so quietly. And given all the streaming-service exclusives debacles, able seamen are once again abandoning their station to join at the sloops.⚓

    But then a huge swatches of the public are discovering they can be better entertained by freer content like those of Youtubers and Tik Tokkers. We've even had a resurgence of sea shanties.

    Again, the only thing worse than having your precious content getting pirated, is having your precious content not getting pirated.🏴‍☠️

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Mar 2021 @ 3:41pm

    Will some random streamer actually get a fine or go to jail for playing some pop music in the background while playing a game?
    there are some websites that stream american tv and movies but they are based outside america .
    right now videos are taken down from youtube or else they get the ad revenue from the video ,eg a 3 hour hour gaming video can be taken down if it contains
    1 minute of pop music .

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    PaulT (profile), 23 Mar 2021 @ 2:23am

    "Unlawful streaming services cost the U.S. economy an estimated $29 billion per year."

    No, they don't. One primary driver for such things is that people cannot/will not pay for the multiple fragmented services that they can get things from legally (or to obtain things they can't legally get). Removing the illegal stream does not make the legal versions magically obtainable to affordable.

    It's the same argument as always, except streaming lays bare the fact that the only difference between a legal and illegal stream is whether the people you already pay for content have licensed the title you want to watch.

    Some people deal with this issue by jumping through hoops to get that content, some deal with it by only watching content that's on what they pay for and pretend the rest doesn't exist, some deal with it by pirating. Dealing with the source of the problem rather than those filling the gap will always be the more successful option.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2021 @ 3:03am

    Congress was a mistake

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    me, 23 Mar 2021 @ 4:38am

    OR......

    Hollywood, unable to create non crap content, fears the competition of evolving technology, much like the RIAA did with napster et al.... Adapt or die..... I havent watched "Network Television" in years and I miss nothing.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 23 Mar 2021 @ 2:07pm

    bill reform

    we need a proper bill reform law. one subject, one bill! anything not related to the subject, topic, goal should not be allowed to be in the bill.
    for the bill in question here was a spending/ budget bill to determine who got what money. by sneaking in the monstrosity of incomprehensible constitutional violating copyright cartel based garbage has nothing to do with the bill it was placed in!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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