A new bill being proposed in the US Senate could see people sent to prison for 5 years for the simple act of embedding a YouTube video.
Senators Amy Klobuchar, John Cornyn and Christopher Coons proposed changes to the law that would "harmonize" the civil and criminal sections of the copyright act. Currently, there are no criminal sanctions for unauthorized "performances", which is only covered by the civil side.
Unfortunately, due to vague language being used in bill in regards to the definition of "performance" that doesn't distinguish between hosting, linking and embedding, people who merely post YouTube clips may end up facing criminal sanctions.
The proposed bill then tries to define what is a felony performance, by using the rather arbitrary measurement of "10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period".
So in the most liberal interpretation of these proposed changes, someone embedding a YouTube clip containing unauthorized content, in a forum or on their blog, could face up to 5 years in prison if the video has been viewed more than 10 times in the last 180 days. Even if they did not upload the video in question, or were aware of the legal status of said upload.
And while this liberal interpretation may seem like an extreme position, it actually fits in well with the government's current strategy of seizing domain names of websites that only embed or link to existing content.
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