While everyone in music is excited about the US government’s stimulus bill with the long-needed extra COVID-19 assistance, there may be a major drawback for artists. Even though the guts of the Save our Stages act is in the new bill, another act the CASE Act, amending copyright laws. According to a report from the Hollywood Report, the law would make illegal streaming for commercial profit could become a felony. Now, this is already illegal, but largely only results in copyright strikes for cover songs or game music played on streams from Twitch, YouTube, Tik Tok, and other social networks. Sen. Thom Tillis released his proposal to increase the penalties for those who would dare stream unlicensed works over two weeks ago. In doing so, the North Carolina Republican flirted with danger. If passed, illegal streaming of works including movies and music tracks could carry a penalty of up to 10 years in jail.
That’s not the only change to copyright law, either.
The spending bill also appears to adopt a long-discussed plan to create a small-claims adjudication system within the U.S. Copyright Office.
Advocates have long sought to give copyright owners some recourse to infringement outside of the expensive federal court system, though the so-called CASE Act has engendered some pushback from those weary of throwing certain disputes to unaccountable bureaucrats working for an agency suspected of favoring industry. Some critics believe the alternative dispute system to be unconstitutional, though by making the system opt-in and non-compulsory, advocates hope that it will survive any legal challenge and ultimately lead to swifter resolution over takedown notices for copyright material posted online. The CASE Act previously passed the House by a 410-6 vote before being blocked in the Senate by Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).