Justin Bieber “jailed” in copyright fight
Imagine Justin Bieber behind bars. That’s the pitch behind freebieber.org, a website set up by an anti-copyright group fighting a bill now moving through the U.S. Congress.
The Commercial Felony Streaming Act, also known as S. 978, would make unauthorized web streaming of copyrighted content a crime punishable by up to five years in prison.
That could, in theory, include music fans’ covers of their fave artists – the performances are their own, but the songs are someone else’s intellectual property. Ergo, the bill spells big trouble for 17-year-old Bieber, the website ominously suggests (with suitably grim Photoshopped prison pictures), noting that he got his start when his YouTubed version of songs got the attention of his future mentor Usher.
Horrors! So JB may be headed for the hoosegow in the U.S, right? As it turns out, almost certainly not. U.S. lawyer Terry Hart explains that under the law, you pressing ‘play’ on a Bieber clip doesn’t mean he’s performing per se; as Hart puts it, “someone who uploads a video to YouTube is not performing the video — YouTube is.” And YouTube does tend to secure rights to stream these songs from record labels.
Nonetheless the organization behind the website, Fight For the Future, is making young Beebs the poster boy for its fight; given his ability to lure in traffic, one almost can’t blame them.
The fight isn’t just about this bill for them in any event; according the organization’s website, they’re also outraged by U.S. cellphone bills, slow Internet service, and arguably intellectual property as a general concept.
The site wonders about the future: “Will every kid growing up in every developing country have access to every book ever made, as soon as they get a smartphone? Or will the books cost $12, an impossible expense for a poor kid?”
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