June 19, 2011
This is really no surprise, but the same Senate Judiciary Committee that unanimously approved the PROTECT IP Act, despite worries frominternet experts and major media about how it would break the internet, has now also unanimously approved the anti-internet streaming bill that makes it a felony to stream certain videos online — potentially putting people in jail for embedding YouTube videos or just putting up YouTube lip synching videos.
What’s really troubling here is that the media and plenty of concerned citizens have directly raised the issues about the unintended consequences of this law. And while Senators Amy Klobuchar, John Cornyn and Christopher Coons continue to insist that (of course) the law is not intended to be used against such people, they have made no move to fix the bill. Even supporters of this bill, who insisted that we were wrong about what the bill allowed, eventually conceded that our argument was accurate and that this bill could be used to put people in jail for embedding a YouTube video or doing a lip synch video.
And that’s a huge, huge problem. Of course, no one thinks the bill is for that purpose directly or that it’s going to be widely used for such purposes. However, the bill, as written, clearly allows law enforcement to charge people with a felony for that, assuming it meets a few other conditions. But those conditions are pretty minimal (ads on your page? you’re in trouble…). The risk here of abuse is a serious risk, and it’s incredibly troubling that Klobuchar, Cornyn and Coons failed to change or adapt the bill, and worse that the rest of the Senate Judiciary Committee allowed the bill to move forward in such a broken state. They were clearly made aware of problems with the bill, but directly chose not to make any changes. How do you explain that other than incompetence or corruption?