The White House has publically stated it's going to start cracking down on piracy and enforcing IP law, but other than some crackdowns last year, we haven't seen much in the way of a cohesive strategy. Well, until Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator Victoria Espinel delivered this twenty page document of legislative recommendations. If congress goes ahead with some of these suggestions, shit's about to get real.
The paper talks about a few different things, but there are two important takeaways for those not interested in flipping through the whole document. Perhaps most importantly, it suggests classifying unauthorized streaming of copyrighted material as a felony. Seriously. So, for all you kids out there with your Tumblr accounts and your cute little "song of the day" features, you might quickly be on the road to becoming a felon.
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Catching a felony charge obviously creates a wide array of problems, making just about every aspect of day to day life -- you know, stuff like, finding jobs, getting an apartment -- considerably more difficult. And that's not the document's only recommendation; to crack down on streaming piracy, Espinel suggests Congress allows for wiretapping too.
Wiretap authority for these intellectual property crimes, subject to the existing legal protections that apply to wiretaps for other types of crimes, would assist U.S. law enforcement agencies to effectively investigate those offenses, including targeting organized crime and the leaders and organizers of criminal enterprises.
To be fair, the streaming clause is aimed at content providers rather than individuals. The chances of them actually cracking down on Tumblr accounts is pretty small, but the language is just vague enough that it may end up including a wide variety of content, from YouTube to blogs.
And the fact the language isn't explicit is probably the most alarming part, as it's hard to really understand the intentions here, especially considering IP law has been hell-bent on attacking downloading of illegal materials in the past, but the new focus, at least on the surface, appears to be streaming.