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Senate Committee Votes to Make Illegal Streaming of Movies, TV a Felony

2 min read

Streaming of shows that people don’t own the rights to has been a tricky situation for awhile, largely because of some gaping loopholes that have allowed things to slide through. While downloads and so forth have been easy targets in dealing with sites hosting such material when they don’t have the rights to, streaming it on the other hand has been largely free of legislation as so much of the focus was on P2P sharing. Which isn’t a surprise as technology always moves faster than the law, as it should, since things do often settle themselves out in that arena prior to legislation being required. But the loophole exists and things have settled to some degree and now, should this go through to being signed into law, will give companies a bit more muscle to deal with the issue.

“We commend the Committee for moving this important piece of legislation for consideration by the Senate. It will close a gaping hole in the law and go far in protecting the livelihoods of theater employees from the threat posed by illegal streaming,” says National Association of Theatre Owners President John Fithian. ”To the technicians, designers, construction workers, and artists who support their families through their work in entertainment, there’s no difference between illegal downloading and illegal streaming – it’s all theft that hurts their work, their wages and their benefits.

“This bill will help ensure that the punishment for these site operators fits the crime,” says Michael O’Leary, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs for the MPAA.

“The illegal streaming of motion pictures and television programming is as financially devastating for our industry as is illegal downloading,” says IFTA President Jean Prewitt.  “Stealing is stealing, regardless of the means in which the product is being received.

According to the report, the bill makes it illegal to stream video for commercial purposes. The penalty has changed by increasing it up to five years in prison when it involves 10 or more instances of streaming over a 180-day period. The retail value of the streamed video must exceed $2,500, or the licenses to the material must be worth more than $5,000.

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