New Government Stimulus Includes Anti-Piracy Streaming Video Component

While much of the attention surrounding Congress’ passage of $900 billion in emergency economic funding focuses on direct payments to Americans and small businesses, Hollywood movie and TV show content holders got some good news as well.

A provision in the Emergency Coronavirus Relief Act of 2020 would punish for-profit illegal streaming of copyrighted movies and TV shows with federal penalties up to 10 years in jail.

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The Protecting Lawful Streaming Act of 2020 is a bi-partisan bill introduced by Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) that seeks to punish large-scale criminal streaming services that “willfully and for commercial advantage or private financial gain, offer to the public illicit services dedicated to illegally streaming copyrighted material.”

“The shift toward streaming content online has resulted in criminal streaming services illegally distributing copyrighted material that costs the U.S. economy nearly $30 billion every year, and discourages the production of creative content that Americans enjoy,” Tillis said in a statement. “I am proud this common-sense legislation that was drafted with the input of creators, user groups, and technology companies will become law so we can target criminal organizations and ensure that no individual streamer has to worry about the fear of prosecution.”

With Hollywood operating a $1.5 billion annual operation in Georgia, U.S. Senators Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA), who are both seeking re-election in a special run-off on Jan. 5, co-authored the bill along with Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), among others.

“For too long, large-scale, criminal enterprises have taken advantage of a loophole in CD and DVD-era copyright laws to engage in unprecedented digital piracy, which costs our economy billions of dollars and threatens the livelihoods of our creative community,” said Coons (D-DE). “I am proud that Congress passed this targeted bill, which empowers the Department of Justice to prosecute large-scale, for-profit streaming piracy services, and I appreciate the collaborative effort by content owners, technology companies, public interest groups, and others to ensure that this legislation cannot be used to target internet users or legitimate streaming platforms.”