The U.S. Department of Commerce hopes to end unauthorized streaming of video and audio content by revising the Stop Online Piracy Act, classifying the act as a felony.
“This discrepancy is an increasingly significant impediment,” the department reported. “The lack of potential felony penalties for criminal acts of streaming disincentivizes prosecution and undermines deterrence.”
The Internet Policy Task Force noted that streaming content without permission is considered a public performance violation, and is therefore currently classified as a misdemeanor.
U.S. Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinators proposed a bill that would make the act a felony in 2011, and the idea was again suggested in 2012 within the controversial SOPA bill.
Last month, the United States Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante also asked Congress to make illegal content streaming a felony. Though outrage about Internet restrictions has lessened since SOPA, the idea of appears to be gaining support again.
Corynne McSherry, the Intellectual Property Director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, found the recommendation by the Department of Commerce’s Task Force disappointing.
“Creative people are succeeding in the digital economy despite — not because of — copyright restrictions,” McSherry said. “New copyright penalties won’t lead to more compensation for anyone but lawyers.”
Abigail Phillips of the Electronic Frontier Foundation also questioned the judiciousness of devoting time and money to such an issue.