North Carolina Republican Senator, Thom Tillis, is attempting to pass legislation that would make streaming copyrighted material a felony, rather than a misdemeanor. He’s trying to push this within the major government funding bill. This bill is considered a “must-pass” piece of legislation — the government will shut down if it isn’t approved.
If this legislation passes, unauthorized commercial streaming of copyrighted material, which has been a serious issue on platforms like Twitch, would turn into a felony offense that could come with prison time. Twitch streamers have been getting hammered with waves of copyright strikes throughout this year, with some streamers having to go back and delete a number of their clips (with any copyright-protected music in them, of course).
Twitch has apologized for its poor response to the DMCA takedowns last month, but stated the best way to keep away from copyright strikes is to not stream copyrighted material. How obvious.
Tillis’s push for harsher punishment is a common tactic when Congress must pass a spending bill. Lawmakers insert controversial legislation that might not pass on its own, because other lawmakers will hesitate to oppose a spending bill. Tillis received a number of donations from groups affiliated with entertainment companies, including Motion Picture Association, Sony Pictures, NBCUniversal, among others, that have lobbied for this type of copyright enforcement.
The possible law isn’t available to the public yet, but the government will shut down if the spending bill does not pass by December 18th.