The Obama administration is hoping to revive a part of the very controversial SOPA legislation, which will see unauthorized streaming of copyrighted content being made into a felony offense.
A new copyright greenpaper written by the U.S. Department of Commerce recommends that unauthorized streaming, including the act of uploading copyrighted content onto YouTube, be made into a felony offense to match current laws relating to the reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works.
Currently copyright law stipulate that "willfully infringing reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works can be punished as a felony", but willful unauthorized streaming, which is classified as a "public performance", is counted only as a misdemeanor.
Under the broadest interpretation of these proposed changes, people uploading covers of popular songs could see themselves facing months if not years of prison time.
Like SOPA in general, these changes are likely to face strong public opposition. During the height of the anti-SOPA movement, pop star Justin Bieber even came out directly against making unauthorized streaming a felony, saying that the senator who originally proposed these changes should be "locked up - put away in cuffs". Bieber was referring to Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), who helped to draft the SOPA version of this proposal.