Bill to Make Unauthorized Online Streaming of Copyrighted Content a Felony Advances in US Senate.

On June 16, 2011, the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary approved without amendment a bill that would penalize unauthorized web streaming of copyrighted content as a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of up to 5 years. See S.978 — To amend the criminal penalty provision for criminal infringement of a copyright, and for other purposes. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and cosponsored by Senators Chris Coons (D-DE) and John Cornyn (R-TX).

In order for the enhanced penalty to apply, one of the following three circumstances would have to be present: (1) there must have been “10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copyrighted works;” or (2) “the total retail value of the performances, or the total economic value of such public performances to the infringer or to the copyright owner, … exceed[s] $2,500;” or (3) “the total fair market value of licenses to offer performances of those works … exceed[s] $5,000.”

The next step in the legislative process for S.978 is consideration by the full Senate.

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