Gamers' Advocacy Group to Fight Anti-Streaming Bill

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Gamers' Advocacy Group to Fight Anti-Streaming Bill

Senate bill S. 978 could make criminals of people posting "Let's Play" videos on YouTube, and the ECA wants you to help fight it.

If you're on the internet and reading a website like this one, then it's a safe bet you've heard of S. 978, a bill currently being pushed through the U.S. Senate. While reproduction and distribution of copyrighted works - for example, sending a movie over a P2P service - are currently felonies in the United States, the online streaming of said works is considered a "public performance," and so is not. S. 978 would change that.

While most people would probably agree that aiding creators in fighting illegal piracy of their work is a good thing, people have argued that the potential problem with Bill S. 978 is in its vagueness - especially given the popularity of video streaming sites like YouTube. Consumers' advocacy group the Entertainment Consumers Association is urging denizens of the internet to write to their local Senator (if in the States, naturally) to protest the bill, and has offered some examples to show why this bill could be a Very Bad Idea:

In plain terms this means that if you stream your game play to show your friends and it's viewed by 1 or more friends ten times or less, you could go to jail for up to five years. Yeah, really.

Everyone is at risk. The vagueness regarding value leaves it to copyright holders to determine the possible costs to them. If they want to prosecute through that loophole, they can. A child playing piano of their favorite performer on YouTube, a video of a child dancing to their favorite songs and video game players showing off walk-throughs, speed trials and live streaming their games are all examples of items that'd be prosecutable under this legislation.

In other words, this might not just affect people who upload movies onto YouTube for others to watch, but people who upload videos of themselves playing a game - or making fun of it. Of course, all of those examples are obviously hyperbolic worst case situations.

"While we believe in the rights of copyright holders," writes the ECA, which famously came to blows with EA over draconian DRM in Spore, "this legislation's broad language would make criminals out of millions of Americans."

If you're in the USA and interested in helping combat the bill - or just helping make the language less broad-minded and vague - then you can join the ECA's letter-writing campaign here. For those of you outside of the country, just keep your fingers crossed if you support it. If you're against it, then I guess you just shouldn't do anything either way

Here you can see the process through which a bill becomes law in the United States, as illustrated by classic education-music program Schoolhouse Rock. Somewhat ironically, if S. 978 passes, this video will probably be taken down. How 'bout them apples, eh?

(GamePolitics)

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That's interesting, considering that Let's Play is considered a deviant work, which means that all you would need to technically acknowledge it properly as such is a fair use notice, unless of course they change the definition of Fair Use again.

I support (ECA) - since I got some game videos. :)

The people with the copyright should have the power.

This will give them the power.

If a company wants to let you stream their product, it is their right to say yay nor nay, not yours.

EDIT: "Video games are ART! Video games should be treated the same as movies and Music!"

Here ya go... not happy??

Also, (for those who want to quote me again... it's not necessary) this has been discussed already. http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.298026-Poll-The-death-of-internet-freedom-AKA-bill-S-978?page=5

'Fair Use' still wins. This is not the end of 'Let's Play', nor is it the end of IMDB showing a trailer. The sky isn't falling.

Although I don't like the idea of stopping Let's Plays or reviews or parodies, I just don't think this would fly, or be as bad as this group is claiming.

'A child playing piano of their favourite performer on YouTube'. Given the amount of people who do cover versions, karaoke, lessons etc of musicians, they'd end up trying to prosecute over half of the users on the site, and that wouldn't fly.

If this was a bill that was just targetting gamers I'd be up in arms, but I don't believe this law could last if it honestly allowed for people to be prosecuted for something that I would estimate 75% of YouTube is doing. For one thing, Google wouldn't let them because it would basically cripple YouTube, and thus a large amount of their revenue, and no one would be stupid enough to try and bring down Google.

We're all behind TotalBiscuit - err, I mean, ECA!

Good going there America.

Land of the free indeed...

This law should never pass, but I got an ugly feeling that it will.
Shame.

the online streaming of said works is considered a "public performance," and so is not. S. 978 would change that.

Uh, Mister Funk? Just because it is not a felony doesn't mean it's not illegal. It is still a Civil Crime and can earn you a nice fine, and that was the way uploading movies through P2P and all other forms of copyright infringement used to be as well.

But, considering all misdemeanors are felonies now, lets go ahead make all the civil crimes felonies too. Pfft, who needs civil law! Break a contract, prison; cheat on our wife, prison; record someone without their consent, you guessed it, butt pounding! But nope, civil law is outdated and doesn't give major corporations near enough stranglehold over us!

How about we try enforcing the laws we already have instead of making up new and increasingly more insane and scary laws instead?

Ain't Fascism great!

Well, it's obviously not going to be used to do the evil things they say it can be used to, but it's always best to err on the safe side when it comes to law. Plus, you fight hyperbole with hyperbole.

Sober Thal:
The people with the copyright should have the power.

Then go out there and fight this bill, which takes this power away from them and gives it to the government.

John Funk:
Gamers' Advocacy Group to Fight Anti-Streaming Bill

In plain terms this means that if you stream your game play to show your friends and it's viewed by 1 or more friends ten times or less, you could go to jail for up to five years. Yeah, really.

Disgusting, truly... I can't believe this. "ten times or less"? Fewer, man, fewer!

Sober Thal:
The people with the copyright should have the power.

This will give them the power.

If a company wants to let you stream their product, it is their right to say yay nor nay, not yours.

EDIT: "Video games are ART! Video games should be treated the same as movies and Music!"

Here ya go.

They already have all of the control...

See this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_copyright_law

and this:

http://copyright.cornell.edu/resources/publicdomain.cfm

and this:

http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/501.html

Oh, and feel free to read anything else you find that strikes your fancy!

I'm still sitting up here in Canada on my comfy CHESTERFIELD, and pointing at the USA and yelling HYPOCRITES!!

Sober Thal:

"Video games are ART! Video games should be treated the same as movies and Music!"

Here ya go.

Video game streams don't provide the complete experience - in fact the core experience: gameplay. Which can only be obtained through piracy, which in turn is already a civil crime.

I mean, next what? Sue these sites for broadcasting film contents even though they're not releasing the complete movie experience? Or how about reviewers being sued because they vividly describe the gameplay and set-pieces of a game in their prose, which you're supposed to experience from the game itself?

Good god imagine how to video's or video game guides on showing you how to do one thing or another, those videos would be illegal and that would technically throw us back into the stone age of guides and we will have to resort to the old ways of buying gaming guides from stores.

This just screams censorship in many ways possible just to turn the internet into a corp only tv advertising channel where hardly much if any innovation could thrive.

vxicepickxv:
That's interesting, considering that Let's Play is considered a deviant work, which means that all you would need to technically acknowledge it properly as such is a fair use notice, unless of course they change the definition of Fair Use again.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DMCA

Fair Use is dead brah!

I'm almost getting tired of chastising people on the internet over this, this bill is not making illegal something that's currently legal, it's just adding additional punishment to already illegal activities.

Like it or not, posting a let's play on Youtube is already in violation of the game's copyright. All this bill would do is add more fines and jail time to the crime.

vxicepickxv:
That's interesting, considering that Let's Play is considered a deviant work, which means that all you would need to technically acknowledge it properly as such is a fair use notice, unless of course they change the definition of Fair Use again.

I'm pretty sure posting a thorough playthrough of a video game falls outside of fair use, even if you're making "witty" commentary overtop of it.

I'm in Europe and I'm worried about this bill because America seems to be very happy with Extroditing attempts lately that I noticed and if they pass I would assume that we might get a few extrodite demands for people outside the US to.

Somehow i would find it extremely hard to believe that most developers or publishers would dare try to shut down streamed video walkthroughs of thier games.

Streamed videos are usually how i determine what games i buy in the end, so a game with no Youtube LP means its less popular than 20 year old underwear, and probably worse too.

Sober Thal:
The people with the copyright should have the power.

This will give them the power.

If a company wants to let you stream their product, it is their right to say yay nor nay, not yours.

EDIT: "Video games are ART! Video games should be treated the same as movies and Music!"

Here ya go... not happy??

No, because you have to play a game to experience it. Just watching it doesn't cut it with games. This is a stupid law designed to protect the copyright holders from nothing. More and more laws each days are about protecting the rich and powerful and taking away the rights of consumers. If you support this, you are naive. It's because of people like you these guys always get what they want.

ImprovizoR:

Sober Thal:
The people with the copyright should have the power.

This will give them the power.

If a company wants to let you stream their product, it is their right to say yay nor nay, not yours.

EDIT: "Video games are ART! Video games should be treated the same as movies and Music!"

Here ya go... not happy??

No, because you have to play a game to experience it. Just watching it doesn't cut it with games. This is a stupid law designed to protect the copyright holders from nothing. More and more laws each days are about protecting the rich and powerful and taking away the rights of consumers. If you support this, you are naive. It's because of people like you these guys always get what they want.

What about story heavy games? What reason would you have to buy and play through a Pheonix Wright game if you've already watched someone play through all of the story? Yea, you weren't personally puzzling out how to solve the case but once you've seen it solved it's not like you can get that experience even if you do get the game.

I don't get it why people are upset, its not like the bill will ever get through. People pissed their pants when that other anti-gaming bill was suggested and it was predictably shot down.

It astounds me how blatantly ignorant this legislation is.

Its basically useless, because it does absolutely nothing to give the copywrite holder anything.

And while we are at it.. Is it not funny how if you were to steal a copy of a game, film, album, book, in physical format it would be considered a misdemeanor, however if you stream or download the exact same thing your life is essentially ruined with a felony charge. (because once youve served your sentence for a felony, it basically destroys your ability to get a job, make a living, support yourself, basically be anything but a drain on society, etc.)

So the moral of the story is, If you steal something from someone or a store, its no where near as bad because either the owner or the store have already purchased it from the publisher. But if you infringe on the copywrite, your directly taking money out of that publishers pocket, so you must be made to pay to the point you wish you were dead.

Sounds an awful lot like the using litigation to protect corporate interests. But yeah, lets make sure we protect those poor poor publishing corporations even beyond what falls within the standing of "usual" punishment.

Not to sound like a dick, but this is an american problem.

This law has no effect on other countries like Britain as we have our own laws and procedures,You have the bill of rights and use the first amendment etc. while we use another way entirely.

Now this would be more serious if the U.S government was telling us that The whole world had to follow this law but its not.

If it did go through, it wouldn't spell the end for "Let's play" videos as people from other parts of the world that U.S laws do not effect can and will still make them.

However I am hoping that this bill doesn't go through as I have seen quite a few good Let's play videos come out of the USA...........that and I'm against any government deciding to control what is and always has been a free rights service.

vxicepickxv:
That's interesting, considering that Let's Play is considered a deviant work, which means that all you would need to technically acknowledge it properly as such is a fair use notice, unless of course they change the definition of Fair Use again.

I don't think that fair use has changed meaning. It's just that now you have to spend millions of dollars in court to prove you're in the right.

etherlance:
Not to sound like a dick, but this is an american problem.

This law has no effect on other countries like Britain as we have our own laws and procedures,You have the bill of rights and use the first amendment etc. while we use another way entirely.

And when the US tries to have you extradited for copyright infringement?

People really aren't waking the hell up.

It doesn't give more rights to copyright holders. It takes the rights of copyright holders and gives them TO THE GOVERNMENT. That is the problem. This bill needs to be burned, along with most of Congress. It should be illegal to make a bill which has obviously been created through either bribery or a lack of knowledge of a subject matter, it would take a lot of these politicians away from their ludicrous ideologies.

I am not american, but attention should be brought to this since youtube is hosted in the states, and several of my videos would be taken down because of it.

Sigh, we have a deep recession, outlandishly tax cuts for the rich people, corporations not paying their fair due in taxes, and a debt ceiling crisis and this is what congress focuses on? Yup George Carlin was dead on.

I love how they write up vague bills and then say "don't worry! It's just to target one specific action!" Well, why don't they write up a bill targeting that SPECIFIC action? Initially they'll use it to go after Joe the Pirate but eventually it WILL be used against anyone they wish.

It hasn't been that long since a guy was sent to prison for clicking on a fucking link on a webpage.

Scars Unseen:

etherlance:
Not to sound like a dick, but this is an american problem.

This law has no effect on other countries like Britain as we have our own laws and procedures,You have the bill of rights and use the first amendment etc. while we use another way entirely.

And when the US tries to have you extradited for copyright infringement?

Reading that made me realize that you can't have sex, drink, smoke or gamble while under the age of 21 in the UK, regardless of UK legislation, because if you did you could be extradited to the United States and charged with the relevant state laws that exist there. And it doesn't matter that the US crime that isn't even a crime in the UK wasn't perpetrated in the US, you're still getting extradited.

Well being in the middle of a Crash Bandicoot LP I say SUPPORT THE HELL OUT OF IT!

PrinceofPersia:
Sigh, we have a deep recession, outlandishly tax cuts for the rich people, corporations not paying their fair due in taxes, and a debt ceiling crisis and this is what congress focuses on? Yup George Carlin was dead on.

Im actually wondering if Mr. Carlin is actually rotating in his grave by now at how right he was, or if he is just laughing his ass off because of it. Look back a few Years, like 2 or 3..look at all the weird crap that happened, then recall what Mr. Carlin said, its quite scary how right that man was.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ViYoCHMaUak

Im worried but this guy has an interesting point.

Wow, a lot of people on this thread don't even have a basic idea of what this bill entails or have completely misinterpreted it. Anyway, I'll throw my two cents in here.

The major issue I have is that the bill is specifically quite vague when it comes to the notion of what constitutes infringement. Technically, if this were made into law, embing a video of a let's play could be equal to that of simply recording one and could be seen as a criminal action due to how vague the bill's definition is. The biggest issue here is that you have old men and women in Congress who don't know a damn thing about both the internet and the culture surrounding it attempting to make a decision without the knowledge required.

However, I severely doubt that there will be massive legal issues for most due to the fact that this vagueness is indeed too broad for the American justice system to handle. Clearly a country with a massive prison overpopulation problem isn't going to be trying to prosecute hundreds of people daily for infringement.

UltraDavid provides a legal account of Bill S. 978: http://shoryuken.com/2011/06/29/trolling-the-stream-by-ultradavid/

FINALLY. Something to stem the tide of pointless let's play videos.

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