Stream that bootlegged movie, go to jail

The nation’s (almost) top cop is  mad as hell, and he’s not gonna take it anymore.

Outraged that Americans caught streaming pirated movies get a slap on the wrist while Americans downloading those same movies face time in the Big House, a high-level Department of Justice official is pushing Congress to do something about the discrepancy.

As a post in TheHill.com points out, streaming copyright-infringing content online is considered a misdemeanor while stashing that stuff on your hard drive  is a felony, carrying heavy maximum prison sentences if convicted.

Apparently, lawmakers are listening.

Repeating previous calls from the administration Thursday, David Bitkower, acting deputy assistant attorney general in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, said online streaming of pirated content should receive the same consequences as illegal downloading.

Online streaming “can be just as serious, and in fact, potentially even more serious” than downloading, “and the penalty should reflect that,” Bitkower said at hearing on copyright infringement held by the House Judiciary subcommittee on intellectual property.

Members of the panel, including Reps. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and ranking member Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), wondered about the double standard. And their back-and-forth with Bitkower sounded like a pretty entertaining episode in its own right:

Nadler: “Downloading a copy of the movie ‘Captain America’ illegally is a felony, but if you were to simply stream the same movie illegally it would only be a misdemeanor.  Does this distinction make sense?”

Bitkower responded by calling for stricter punishments for all you digital scofflaws out there, probably streaming a stolen copy of The Hangover: Part II Show as we speak.

 

While “misdemeanor penalties are real,” they “are simply not sufficient to deter those large-scale infringers,” he said, relaying the Justice Department’s recommendation that Congress update copyright law to make streaming infringement a felony.

Bitkower declined to comment on the Justice Department’s recommended severity of the punishment if Congress were to classify streaming as a felony, but he said the penalty should be commensurate with penalties for downloading infringing content.

“We would simply be increasing the maximum penalty,” and Congress could “keep it narrow,” he said.

Stay tuned for more.

Now go back to your regular – illegal! – programming.

Credit: movie6v.com

 

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  • Kevin J. Lumpsum

    I would buy a DVD, but at least half of my large movie collection (about 800 DVDs) is now useless since the movie making companies somehow remotely disabled the DVDs (or they expired) that I purchased from Amazon and from legit DVD stores in the USA. Most of them I paid $25 to $120 each! That’s about $25000 loss! Thus I will never pay a penny for a movie again!

 
 
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