That is why Congress needs time to read this package before voting on it.
Members of Congress have not read this bill. It’s over 5,000 pages, arrived at 2pm today, and we’re told to expect a vote on it in 2 hours.
It is not governance. It’s a hostage-taking. https://t.co/JpBbEHHkVG
– Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 21, 2020
Along with this much-needed relief, however, it includes copyright measures introduced with little to no debate. As such, they haven’t even been read by many lawmakers, let alone the general public.
The Criminal Streaming Bill, introduced by Republican Senator Thom Tillis, targets people who provide illegal streaming services for profit. If found guilty, these people could face significant fines or jail time. This does not appear to criminalize, for example, Twitch or Twitch streamers “who may include unlicensed works in their streams,” according to Public knowledge Senior Policy Advisor Meredith Rose. However, as no one has been able to study the bill closely, its impact is not yet clear.
The much broader CASE law could clearly have a chilling effect on freedom of expression. It creates a new small claims system that allows individual artists and designers to challenge copyright infringement without launching a federal case. “This is a long overdue solution for individual creators and small copyright owners, for whom copyright has too often been a right without recourse,” according to the Graphic artists guild.
While this is good in theory, the EFF has argued that it could mean huge fines for people sharing copyrighted material on social media. “The CASE law could result in penalties of $ 30,000 for Internet users for sharing a meme or creating a video,” wrote earlier. “It has no place in compulsory legislation.” He noted that if an individual is struck by a CASE claim, they should respond to the Copyright Office “in a very specific way, within a limited time” to avoid a hefty fine.
Meanwhile, companies with large legal departments would be less affected. “Sophisticated defendants – the type of repeat infringers that artists are most concerned about – are unlikely to be common in the world. [new system], ”Public knowledge wrote when the law was first introduced in 2017.
Hmm. Admitting that you’re using a government funding bill that needs to pass to sneak into a law that you can’t normally pass is … a choice, I guess. https://t.co/atkS2Ny8nr
– Mike Masnick (@mmasnick) December 21, 2020
What angers critics most, however, is that the measures were added without much debate to a crucial “must-see” spending bill for many individuals and small businesses. Democratic Senator Chris Murphy admitted: “When a big bill like this comes together, your job as a legislator is to try to fit as many of your legislative and fiscal priorities as possible into it. the text, ”he wrote on Twitter.
However, his fellow Democratic Senator Ron Wyden was more critical. “I have been working for over a year to make common sense changes to this bill to better serve users AND creators,” he tweeted. “Unfortunately, the CASE law was violated without these improvements.”