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Advocacy

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. 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. 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. 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.