Business News Digital Labels & Publishers Legal

Proposed US anti-piracy law targeting illegal streaming services unveiled

By | Published on Friday 11 December 2020

US Congress

US Senator Thom Tillis has published more information about his proposed Protecting Lawful Streaming Act, which will empower the US Department Of Justice to charge commercial enterprises making available streams of unlicensed copyright-protected content with felony copyright infringement.

This is one of the copyright reforms that could be added to the spending bill currently being negotiating in Washington. Reps for the US tech sector and civil rights groups have criticised moves to sneak some new copyright laws into that wide-ranging bit of legislation, arguing that doing so means the proposed reforms cannot be properly scrutinised and considered.

That said, now that Tillis has provided more information about his Protecting Lawful Streaming Act he has confirmed that these specific proposals are pretty narrow and could only impact on commercial enterprises that are knowingly and deliberately streaming unlicensed content. He basically wants that kind of copyright infringement to be on par with physical copyright infringement when it comes to pursuing criminal copyright cases.

A statement about the proposed reforms says: “The Protecting Lawful Streaming Act would apply only to commercial, for-profit streaming piracy services. The law will not sweep in normal practices by online service providers, good faith business disputes, noncommercial activities, or in any way impact individuals who access pirated streams or unwittingly stream unauthorised copies of copyrighted works. Individuals who might use pirate streaming services will not be affected”.

Tillis himself adds: “The shift toward streaming content online has resulted in criminal streaming services illegally distributing copyrighted material that costs the US economy nearly $30 billion every year, and discourages the production of creative content that Americans enjoy. This common sense legislation was drafted with the input of creators, user groups, and technology companies and is narrowly targeted so that only criminal organisations are punished and that no individual streamer has to worry about the fear of prosecution”.

To that end, he added, a number of tech sector and civil rights groups that are often critical of legal reforms that boost copyright protections are pretty much neutral on these proposals.

Although illegal music streaming services exist, the kind of platforms Tillis is targeting with this proposed new law are a bigger concern for the movie and sport industries.