‘This Is Atrocious’: Congress Crams Language to Criminalize Online Streaming, Meme-Sharing Into 5,500-Page Omnibus Bill

Lawmakers in Congress are under fire from digital rights campaigners for embedding three controversial changes to online copyright and trademark laws into the must-pass $2.3 trillion legislative package—which includes a $1.4 trillion omnibus spending bill and a $900 billion Covid-19 relief bill—that could receive floor votes in the House and Senate as early as Monday evening.

The punitive provisions crammed into the enormous bill (pdf), warned Evan Greer of the digital rights group Fight for the Future, “threaten ordinary Internet users with up to $30,000 in fines for engaging in everyday activity such as downloading an image and re-uploading it… [or] sharing memes.”

While the citizenry had almost no time to process the actual contents of the 5,593 page legislative text, Greer said Monday afternoon that the CASE Act, Felony Streaming Act, and Trademark Modernization Act “are in fact included in the must-pass omnibus spending bill.”

As Mike Masnick explained in a piece at TechDirt on Monday:

The CASE Act will supercharge copyright trolling exactly at a time when we need to fix the law to have less trolling. And the felony streaming bill (which was only just revealed last week with no debate or discussion) includes provisions that are so confusing and vague no one is sure if it makes sites like Twitch into felons.

“The fact that these are getting added to the must-pass government funding bill is just bad government,” Masnick added. “And congressional leadership should hear about this.”

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Author: HP McLovincraft

Seeker of rabbit holes. Pessimist. Libertine. Contrarian. Your huckleberry. Possibly true tales of sanity-blasting horror also known as abject reality. Prepare yourself.

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