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Department of Commerce to Make Unauthorized Streaming a Felony

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Currently, the unauthorized streaming of copyrighted material is ruled a public performance violation and is a misdemeanor. That could change if the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Internet Policy Task Force has its way. It wants to revise a provision in the Stop Online Piracy Act to make unauthorized streaming a felony. In a report from last week, the task force noted that while intentionally reproducing and distributing copyrighted works is a felony, willful streaming of copyrighted works is considered a public performance and so is given a lighter punishment. The report was covered by The Raw Story yesterday in an article.

The task force sees this as keeping the law in sync with the times. The report notes that the discrepancy in punishments is significant since many consumers now enjoy streamed audio and video regularly. For some people, streaming media is their main form of entertainment. Deterrence is undermined, it says, with the lighter penalty for unauthorized streaming.

The Raw Story notes that provisions to make unauthorized streaming a felony have come up before in 2011 and 2012. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is opposed to the change. An EFF representative suggested that civil courts were better equipped to deal with unauthorized streaming issues. 

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