As if there weren’t enough issues already with various attempts to criminalize the downloading of music, videos, and images, we are now confronted with yet another proposed criminal law, the Commercial Felony Streaming Act. In essence, if passed, the Act will make the streaming of copyrighted work by any person a felony punishable by up to five (5) years in prison.
Now, I’m all for protecting copyrighted materials, and Copyright Piracy (particularly of intellectual property) is a global issue. But is a blanket proscription with such severe sanctions like this really necessary? Isn’t it bad enough that college kids still get randomly charged with illegal music downloads by some overzealous and underworked District Attorney looking to grab a headline? Are we really going to open the door to exposing a whole new cohort of Jay Z devotees for using his song(s) as a ringtone on a personal iPhone® (and what’s next after that - coming after me if I don’t mention an Apple® product without the requisite trademark/copyright symbols?) or a social network user who, just for fun, uploads a quick clip of Justin Bieber singing "Baby"?
Still think it isn’t possible? Just ask the defendant in Sony BMG v. Tenenbaum how he’s going to pay off the $67,500 fine (it was originally $675,000, but was reduced on appeal) that he’s facing in his case for illegal music downloads, while also considering he’s only facing civil sanctions. So how about a little commonsense here? Let’s separate for-fun from for-profit, and think this stuff through before we create more headaches and injustice. I mean, sure, I can always use the business, but shouldn’t criminal laws be designed to protect against real criminals?
If you have been accused of a crime and you need a lawyer to represent you please contact Brad Bailey at 781-589-2828