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proposed felony streaming law Congress omnibus spending bill

Say goodbye to DJ live streams if this proposed US law passes

More than 18 organizations are urging Congress to reject newly porposed provisions in the omnibus spending bill.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the world of live streaming has exploded. As humans continue to use this vital web function to connect with one another over work, school, and play, nowhere has it been more fruitful than to the music world. Thanks to streaming, artists have been able to get their new music out to their fans via live streaming festivals like Beatport: ReConnect, Digital Mirage, Room Service, Insomniac Virtual Rave-a-Thons, and so many more. Artists have even turned to building up their own Twitch and YouTube channels to host live stream events for their fans directly. However, that is all being threatened now due to a new year-end omnibus bill that could make streaming illegal.

According to Music Business Worldwide, as lawmakers now seek to cram several controversial copyright provisions into a broader spending bill, they’re receiving lots of push back from tech companies and civil liberties organizations like the ACLU. These activists are urging legislators to vote against the measure on the grounds that it could be ripe for abuse.

“We respect Congress’s intent to improve our intellectual property system and protect the rights of creators and entrepreneurs,” the Electronic Frontier Foundation-led group says. “However, certain aspects of this package of bills will have negative impacts on small and medium-sized businesses, creators, libraries, and their patrons, students, teachers, educational institutions, religious institutions, fan communities, internet users, and free expression.”

Within the proposed changes, Republican Senator Thom Tillis (NC) is sponsoring a felony streaming clause, which has not yet been introduced to legislation. If approved, the proposal would grant authority to the US Department of Justice to charge commercial streaming enterprises (like Twitch) with certain kinds of felony copyright infringement.

The House and Senate Judiciary Committees have already agreed to package the felony streaming law with other provisions, including the CASE Act and the Trademark Modernization Act. It’s part of a larger stopgap spending bill that the House recently passed to keep the federal government operating until December 18. If this proposed felony streaming law actually makes it through in the spending bill, streaming platforms like Twitch could only be in deep trouble. DJs would also be liable for playing other artists’ music in their live-streamed sets that they’re not licensed to stream on the platform.