US Senator Thom Tillis targeted copyrighted material being streamed on Twitch or shared on other social media platforms by submitting a bill that could hurt content creators. The senator introduced an eleventh-hour omnibus bill that could make anyone streaming copyrighted music liable to serve jail time.
According to the North Carolina representative, law enforcement requires the necessary tools to prevent unlawful copyright usage. Anyone who streams or shares copyrighted music in a commercial setting can be charged with a felony and potentially entail jail time if proven guilty. The bill is very similar to the CASE Act, which was approved in October 2019 and 2012’s SOPA/PIPA bills.
The provision has met with severe criticism and opposition. Ten organizations from the technology industry have spoken out against the bill and have asked Congress not to approve the omnibus provision. The companies wrote a letter claiming that they have major concerns over the bill and its passing would negatively impact internet users and content creators.
Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Director of Policy and Activism Katharine Trendacosta said that the bill is a “chill on expression” and can potentially ruin the lives of regular citizens. By making streaming copyrighted music a felony, it can potentially restrict innovation and expression, she added. According to her, “People who are engaged in things we do online: sharing memes, videos, and downloading images. We already see it’s hard enough in just civil copyright and the DMCA for people to feel comfortable asserting their rights.”
Currently, there is nothing that Twitch streamers need to do. However, they still need to avoid DMCA strikes to avoid being banned from the platform. Sharing copyrighted music despite warnings can lead to bans from the platform. The proposal to pass the bill will be assessed on December 11, and it has to be passed before the government’s 2020 shutdown to be approved this year.
Twitch has not commented on the situation yet. But the streaming platform has been through a DMCA controversy of its own recently. Content creators and viewers criticized the platform’s handling of DMCA complaints in the recent past. Many Twitch streamers have started deleting their past VODs to avoid being copyright-struck and have stopped playing copyrighted music on stream. Even game developers are changing how they include music in their games. Cyberpunk 2077 released today with a stream-friendly option that replaces/mutes all copyrighted music in the game to prevent streamers from being inconvenienced.