back to article Make streaming a felony: Obama

The US government is proposing that "infringement by streaming" be made into a felony. That is one of a number of proposals contained in a white paper published (PDF/917KB) by the White House. The proposals also include allowing the Department of Homeland Security (that's right, intellectual property offences are now, …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm a Brit but we're not far off either

    Just let me know when the simple act of breathing is made illegal (*).

    (*) unless you have paid a big wodge of moolah first.

    1. Richard Chirgwin (Written by Reg staff)

      Re: I'm a Brit but we're not far off either

      It depends. Does your breathing sound like mine (TM)?

      1. Joefish

        Re: Does your breathing sound like mine(TM)?

        "No. I AM your Father".

  2. ShaggyDoggy


    Presumably they mean unlawful streaming, not all streaming.

    Oh wait

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Down

      I suspect this is actually about both illegal and legal streaming.

      Unlawful streaming becomes a felony if they redefine it as distribution rather than performance. This presumably means that legal, licensed streaming also becomes 'distribution of copyright material'.

      A shiny kopeck says the distribution license is massively more expensive than the performance license. Cue an enormous shafting of internet radio by the collection agencies.....

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: shafting of internet radio?

        That depends. To me, a mere native speaker of the language (*), the difference between performance and distribution is simply that after a performance you only have memories whereas after distribution you have your own copy that you can replay as often as you like. (Whether either, neither or both of these should be a felony is up to the lawmakers.)

        So internet radio, per se, is performance. Any archiving of the data stream at the recipient's end would be "copying" (as in "home taping is killing music"). Streaming of the kind supported by peer-to-peer networks is distribution.

        (* That's "English", not "Lawyer". Please God, let there not be anyone for whom the latter is their mother tongue.)

  3. Anonymous Coward

    The stupidity olympics

    The Americans are quite happy to criticise various bits of the middle east for locking up political dissenters and throwing away the key, yet they're apparently relaxed (and see little contradiction) with the idea of locking up their own citizens and throwing away the key for streaming an episode of the Simpsons.

    At least now those who voted for Digital Economy Act have some real world class competition for the "corporate lackey of the century" award.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Hey - don't have a go at the poor Americans... they have enough trouble trying to fill their prisons with slave labour already... oh... they don't you say?

      1. Lionel Baden

        well ...

        Maybe they are looking at getting a different working class in.

        Rather than filling their prisons with musclebound blue collar workers they are looking for more skilled workers to help them with tax dodges and accounting ??

        Just sayin

        1. Eddy Ito Silver badge


          Long gone are the majority of forced labor prisons. Most prisons for white collar workers are more akin to summer camps with stiffer curfews and nearly no prison actually produces any useful product of labor regardless of collar colour. Add to that, increasing prison enrollment would put a greater strain on budgets and the people covering those budgets don't have the money anyway. Most of this will undoubtedly be handled with fines, payable to everyone's least favorite Uncle, in the hopes of curtailing the current coffer conundrum.

  4. David Hicks

    So that's the trick then

    As usual - change the law to make many more people criminals either by inventing new offences or shifting them into the criminal rather than civil code. Classic police-state dystopia type of move that. Then you can justify more budget for your investigators and if you can muddy the waters between "criminal" and "terrorist" whilst you're at it then all the better, copyright infringers are now enemies of the state and your corporate sponsors are happy!

    1. .stu

      Central Scrutinizer

      Just go and listen to Joe's Garage by Frank Zappa and you'll know what it's all about - just don't try and stream it as that is wrong!

      1. sabroni Silver badge

        listen to Zappa?

        Can I just be locked up now instead?

      2. g e

        Does it look just like a Telefunken U47?

        It's cleaner than Mary and WAY more fun than Lucille...

        Bet Obama knows what a pig with marital aids stuck all over it looks like.

    2. MinionZero
      Big Brother

      @enemies of the state and your corporate sponsors

      It looks like all the control freaks in society have now openly united in their desire for a Police State. At least now they are clearly highlighting themselves as the true enemy of freedom and all societies around the world.

      @"The Obama administration's white paper seems, however, to be in line with the stringent enforcement regimes it wants other countries to adopt under the so-far-secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement process."

      (1) This so-far-secretive documentation (all of it) needs to be leaked in full and spread around the Internet to everyone on the planet. The fact its secretive shows they seek to work behind our backs. We need to know what our government representatives seek to do behind our backs because as our representatives, they work *for us*, not against us in secret.

      (2) By reading the above sentence, you have been deemed to be in violation of copyright Thought Crime. STAY WHERE YOU ARE CITIZEN, the Thought Police have your name & address and you will picked up in due course, upon which time court room 101 will decide the best way to punish you. Part of your punishment will be to give the rich people in charge of society more of your money, thereby keeping the people in power rich and keeping you down and poor, which of course allows the rich to stay in control of society.

      By the way, as this news shows, the rich also get to define what is seen as a criminal offence and guess what, yes them and their powerful friends are the ones who benefit from their ever increasing list of rules you have to follow. Also should you be found to be opposing the rules they seek to force onto you, then you will be locked up, as you are then clearly a threat (to their ability to control everyone, because others may also then see the true nature of money, power and control and also seek to argue against the two faced bastards in power).

  5. foo_bar_baz

    And the cards are laid on the table

    Now we know whose lobbyists are welcome at Obama's court.

    Watch a grainy, stuttering TV show via a dodgy streaming site and you're a felon? Or setting up a streaming site is a felony?

    It's all terrorism and war in the US of A. Cui bono?

  6. G2

    NASA TV is illegal?

    since NASA TV uses streaming, does that mean that NASA TV will become illegal??

    or C-SPAN, since they also show streams online?

    or countless others?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      Did we skip the tedious actual reading of the article?

      It's about streaming OTHER copyright owners' works - not just streaming.

      I'm pretty sure that NASA own the copyright on the stuff streamed from their cameras. Similary for C-SPAN - though streaming paint drying would be more interesting.

      Admittedly, it's a headline in the Daily Fail-school of hyperbole and inaccuracy but you should take the time to read the article.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        C-Span ...

        ... is about the only thing that passes for news in the US.

      2. PerfectBlue

        Yes, we did read it. Did you read our responses?

        I think that we all get the bit about it being other people’s content. What’s at issue here is the shift from civil to criminal law.

        If you break civil law they don’t throw you in a privately run prison filled with sex offenders and gang foot soldiers, or keep your fingerprints and DNA on file for the next gazillion years.

        When your kid gets hauled up before a judge for downloading a couple of music tracks, I’ll remind you of how bad life can be for people who are in the system. Say, if you want to get a scholarship to pay for college. Got a criminal conviction, too bad. Want to be a cop, work for a big company, work for a federal or state body? Want to be a school teacher. Sorry, you downloaded a Michael Jackson CD when you were a teen, so no way.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not every illegal use is a missed sale

    From another angle, what if the powers in the US get what they want ;- no more illegal copies.

    I will laugh my socks off when they realise what they save in infringement now has to be spent on publicity as they killed word of mouth and try before you buy.

    Perhaps the world will flip on its head where at the moment everyone else speaks english because they all get english speaking tv. We could all learn Spanish / Chinese / [insert language of choice here] then the US could be more redundant in TV making.

    I no longer have any tv package, more out of convenience than principals so i am no longer telling my friends about some show i saw on sky tv fresh from the US.

    ....And anonymous bittorrent services are very affordable now.

    1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

      your socks are safe

      Of course they won't realise... they'll be listening to the marketing droids telling them impressive statistics about the increased effectiveness of marketing.

  8. Al fazed

    Murder is illegal

    Along with numerous other offences like hacking and sabotage of computer equipment.

    Which seems to be OK for Yanks and Israelis to commit, as long as it's done somewhere like, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Columbia, Nicaragua, shall I continue ? Oh yeah, you may or may not need to be wearing a military uniform at the time.

    Littering and fly tipping are also against the law, but NASA et al have left loads of junk in space.

    Some of it capable of dropping on our heads.

    Come on people, let's get real.


    1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

      "Come on people, let's get real."

      That said by a guy who is soooo far off topic it's comical.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "...intellectual property offenses are now, apparently, terrorist offenses"

    Well of course they are. IP offenses subvert the rule of the Corporations - they are in charge, after all.

  10. BristolBachelor Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    WTF ?

    "The wiretap provisions are justified by the large number of offenses for which law enforcement is already able to seek wiretaps."

    Oh, ok then. Also we can already lock people up for any number of reasons, so let's just change teh law so we can do it for anything, hey we shouldn't even have to give a reason...

    (Oh and I'm not a freetard; my future income will depend on us selling our work, but I see bigger problems in the world than this)

    1. Mark 65 Silver badge


      Regarding the wiretaps, will this be the point at which the normal internet starts to rapidly become the encrypted/VPN'ed internet?

      I can certainly see a market for a VPN provider such as Relakks providing a linux distro that preconfigures a connection for you on installation. Live CD or, better, a USB installable one allowing for persistence.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    follow the money

    Bankers screw up the economy causing hundreds of billions in damages, instead of jail they get billions, because they support politicians.

    Hollywood also support them so they can create new laws against freetards who do not pay for lobbyist or politicians.

  12. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    The net closes in...

    I assume this only affects those doing it over "da toobs" or will simply ripping a DVD to your media server and allowing others in your house to watch it make you not just a criminal, but as this comes under DHS control, a terrorist too?!

  13. IanPotter
    Black Helicopters


    That'll be YouTube out of business then. Oh, what? Google is a contributor? Well I guess not then...</cynic>

  14. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    Still going for the copyright violation is *theft* BS, eh

    No It's a *civil* matter.

    And how often does the actual *artist* see a cent of the money?

    Icon says it all.

    1. Ru

      Copyright infringement is a criminal matter.

      This is a *good* thing, on the whole... it acts as a discouragement to people who might otherwise freely pass off the work of someone who might be unable to afford to sue the infringer. A minor discouragement to be sure, and one that doesn't really do enough to prevent large, rich media corporations riding roughshod over the rights of others with nothing more than an 'oh, sorry' rather than the thousands they'd happily extract from the same person were the situation reversed...

      Anyway, tl;dr: in many jurisdaictions copyright infringement is a crime. See the Copyright, Designs and Patents act in the UK for example. It is not, however, theft.

      1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

        But of course it is

        Next, in the news, a new law makes it a criminal offense to cut someone off on the road.

        The penalty is death by firing squad.

        But hey, people, it's a *good* thing on the whole, because we can't have a world where people are so impolite to other people, now can we ?

        1. Daniel 4


          But it /is/ illegal to cut someone off on the road, depending on how you do it. The exact charge varies, but in Illinois (one of the "States of the Union," a phrase you rarely here anymore) the lesser version is "improper lane usage" and is reserved for being a serious dick, and "reckless driving" is the greater version, used for when there really is no one charge that sums up all the shit you were doing wrong. :)


          P.S. Oh, and while I think that personal copyright infringement (vs. for money) should be a civil, not a criminal, matter, as far as I'm aware (and I could be wrong, but I was fairly certain) that hasn't been the case in the U.S.A. for quite some time.

  15. The BigYin


    Surely the offence is committed by the person making the copyrighted work available?

    And that it that person and their server are outside of the USA?

    And how does the USA check whether or not, under local laws wherever the server is based, if the person has the rights to stream?

    So once again the USA seems to think that their laws are the world's laws and that we must obey their pathetic little whims.

    I thought the USA was the land of the free - not the land of corporate imperialism.

    And as for a world power? Give it a few more years, the USA is a debt-ridden minnow compared to the might of China.

    1. Mark 65 Silver badge


      Not sure about their human rights record but their scant regard for IP and Copyright could be a revelation when they take over.

    2. Someone Else Silver badge

      BigYin, You are SOOOO naive

      (And I do mean that with respect....)

      The entire jurisprudence of the US is based on busting the end user (ref. drug laws, prostitution laws, gambling laws, etc.) because thy don't have the kind of scratch and/or clout that the big suppliers (read: money) have.

      Person w/ PC downloading infringing work: small potatoes = no money.

      Entity/syndicate w/ server supplying infringing work: big macher = lotza money.

      I hope I have elucidated that for you.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Where are the FFS and WTF icons when you need them?

  17. Adrian Challinor

    America? Meet Times Warner

    In the news today ....

    "When it comes to iPad TV streaming, it appears that Time Warner Cable has won the race, despite Comcast Corp.’s first-to-bat announcement that its Xfinity app will soon do the same thing. TWC released TWCable TV this week, which allows live television streaming of about 30 channels to Apple’s insanely popular iPad. There are, however, some significant restrictions: The content can only be watched over Wi-Fi, and only within the home. Additionally, users have to also be subscribers to TWC’s broadband ISP service."

    From cable company to international terrorist.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Not April the 1st is it ? No, not yet ? Ah well....

    I guess all administrations test the water with moronic proposals occasionally to see how far the public can be pushed. Oh and yes, I thought that quite some time ago. Being law abiding is no longer the good thing I thought it was in my childhood. It's clear that law can be good or it can be bad; and arguing that one must obey all laws regardless just encourages folk to become puppets to the government, ignoring their own 'moral compass'. And if you are inclined to rebel and stick up for your rights instead the elite controls you by passing laws you are unlikely to accept, thus making you a criminal for doing what you and many others consider to be your right, and 'fair game'. Roll on the days when we have real democracy, if it ever comes.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This sounds just like the panty-wetting tyrade the US went on about online betting - arresting the owner of one of the websites (not a US resident!) when he landed for alleged crimes committed by US citizens on his website.

    Looks like they're just looking for someone else to blame and to generate more income to bail out their collapsed economy.

    1. Smallbrainfield

      Yes but

      they won't mean streaming via established entertainment companies will they?

      The plan is probably to end up with licensed services that can stream, while anything else will be considered illegal.

      It's another attempt to shoehorn the old model of consuming entertainment onto the interwebs, rather than finding a way of allowing people to find and watch what they like and still get paid.

      People were only happy with the previous model because there was no alternative.

    2. bean520

      You mean... this one here?

      1. Anonymous Coward



  20. Ivor 1

    I wonder if Obama ever lent anyone a book?

    Surely that makes him an accessory to copyright theft?

    1. dave 93

      Singing Happy Birthday

      ...actually requires permission from the performing rights owner, which you must pay for.

      I say bring it on, the more ridiculous the laws, the closer we get to a 'new way' to deal with the unlimited copying capability introduced by digital media.

      It really isn't theft if you don't deprive the owner of anything, and streaming is even more ethereal as there is no copy left on the receiving machine

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Not quite

        It's the public performance that requires royalties - not just the act of perfoming it.

        Sadly, these people think it's ok to do something ONCE and get paid for the rest of their (copyright) lives for a few hours work.

        Imagine it was the same for plumbers - every time you flush, you have to pay a royalty. Or electricians, ......

      2. A J Stiles

        Used to

        That's why, on TV, you only ever used to hear the opening bars; any more and they would have owed royalties.

        However, the song entered the Public Domain in 2003.

        1. DJ Particle

          "Happy Birthday"

          As an instrumental, it's in the public domain, since "Happy Birthday To You" is actually a takeoff on a 19th-Century piece called "Good Morning To All". It's only the lyrics that are copywritten, and that copyright expires in another 19 years in the USA, 5 years in the EU.

          1. Greg Adams 2

            Oh good!

            I can use the tune for my new song "Sod Off You Greedy Pricks"!


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