ECA Action Alert: Bill S. 978

July 8, 2011 -

The Entertainment Consumer Association (ECA) has issued a call to arms to its members and the gaming community at large, urging everyone that will listen that Bill S. 978 (the anti-streaming law) is bad for everyone. The law has the potential to affect everyone - from YouTube video posters that make gameplay videos to Netflix users that share their account information. You can check out the alert here and send a letter to your Senators voicing your strong objection to this bill.

The alert can also be found below:

Don't Make Me a Criminal For Playing Video Games

Bill S. 978 has recently been introduced before the United States Senate. The legislation, if passed, would impose stricter copyright laws and penalties when it comes to streaming, playing, or reproducing copyrighted material. While we believe in the rights of copyright holders, this legislation’s broad language would make criminals out of millions of Americans.

People could face prison for up to 5 years if they:
 

  1. Make or offer 10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copyrighted works; and


  2. If the total retail value of the performances, or the total economic value of such public performances to the infringer or to the copyright owner, could exceed $2,500; or


  3. the total fair market value of licenses to offer performances of those works would exceed $5,000



In plain terms this means that if you stream your game play to show your friends and it’s viewed by 1 or more friends ten times or less, you could go to jail for up to five years. Yeah, really.

Everyone is at risk. The vagueness regarding value leaves it to copyright holders to determine the possible costs to them. If they want to prosecute through that loophole, they can. A child playing piano of their favorite performer on YouTube, a video of a child dancing to their favorite songs and video game players showing off walk-throughs, speed trials and live streaming their games are all examples of items that’d be prosecutable under this legislation.

There are already strong laws on the books for copyright holders to protect their intellectual property. We don’t need this draconian measure that’d make criminals out of millions Americans who just want to share their enjoyment of their favorite entertainment.

 

[Full disclosure: GamePolitics is an ECA publication.]


Comments

Re: ECA Action Alert: Bill S. 978

Considering the amounts of money that the RIAA has been able to extract per song in court cases, which borders on squeezing blood from a stone, the whole $2500/$5000 'threshhold' seems pointless.

Re: ECA Action Alert: Bill S. 978

And this article is a great example of all the problems inherent in a bill like this:

Hollywood is about to repeat the mistakes of the music industry

http://www.slate.com/id/2298871/pagenum/all/

"The trouble facing the movie industry right now is the same one the music industry had to confront 10 years ago. This is the summing-up sentence I referred to above:

The easiest and most convenient way to see the movies or TV shows you want is to get them illegally."

Sue, legislate, make getting TV shows and movies legally as difficult as possible... but never embrace new technology. Yes, it's the music industry's woes all over again.

Re: ECA Action Alert: Bill S. 978

"A child playing piano of their favorite performer on YouTube, a video of a child dancing to their favorite songs and video game players showing off walk-throughs, speed trials and live streaming their games are all examples of items that’d be prosecutable under this legislation."

The first example is the only one in this list that would not be affected under this law. This law is actually more about transforming a tort into a crime and that just shouldn't be done.

Re: ECA Action Alert: Bill S. 978

Couldn't streaming game playing fall under fair use? There is a fair use exception for material used for educational purposes, and if you are posting gaming videos as a how-to guide so people learn how to beat the game, couldn't that be considered educational?

Austin from Oregon: One of your Senators, Ron Wyden, seems to be a particualrly good target for a letter. He is already opposing PROTECT IP, and if you alert him to this (he will only accept letters and emails from fellow Oregonians), he might be one of our best bets as an ally.

Re: ECA Action Alert: Bill S. 978

Fair use doesn't matter to big content industries and the DMCA. So why would it matter here?

E. Zachary Knight
Divine Knight Gaming

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