Congress (Once Again) Sells Out To Hollywood: Sneaks CASE Act And Felony Streaming Bill Into Government Funding Omnibus

from the but-why? dept

As we warned about earlier this month, it appears that Congress has in fact put two very controversial copyright provisions into the government funding “omnibus” bill that will be voted on later today. As you may have heard, last night Congress worked out a “deal” on both a $900 billion Covid relief/stimulus package and the giant $1.4 trillion omnibus government funding bill, which is being voted on today. There had been concerns raised all month about how — under pressure from Hollywood — Congress might try to sneak two dangerous copyright provisions and one trademark provision into the omnibus.

Since the “deal” was announced last night, people have been scrambling to find out what’s actually in the fucking bill which is being voted on shortly. It’s just come out that, indeed, all three controversial copyright and trademark provisions are in the bill. 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. And Congressional leadership should hear about this.

The full omnibus bill is over 3,000 pages long, so you can search through it for your favorite bit of nonsense. Felony streaming is on page 72. The CASE Act starts on page 77.

There’s a reason that copyright is generally controversial. Small changes can not only have a massive impact, that impact can be on the public’s ability to express themselves. The idea that two such bills should be jammed through in this manner is a total and complete travesty. People should be mad about this and should hold the Congressional leadership of both parties responsible. This is not good governance. This is sucking up to Hollywood at the expense of the public.

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Comments on “Congress (Once Again) Sells Out To Hollywood: Sneaks CASE Act And Felony Streaming Bill Into Government Funding Omnibus”

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82 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

why-the-fuck-did-SCOTUS-kill-the-line-item-veto

Largely because the U.S. Constitution makes no provision for that. A president must either veto or not veto an entire bill.

In this particular case, however, a line item veto would not help because these bits of bad law do not constitute spending line items which could be vetoed, if such a thing were authorized.

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virusdetected (profile) says:

You seem to believe that the CongressCritters are somehow obligated to represent the best interests of the people of the United States. They aren’t. They’ve been bought and paid for by a corrupt system that allows big corporations to pay for their re-election campaigns. Like most every other institution in this country, their allegiance is to the rich and powerful.

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Congrats, player! Welcome to Draconian Tier 4. says:

Re: Re: Oooh, "Thad" so upset that he's attacking ally!

Do you have anything constructive to add, or are you just here to condescendingly state the very very obvious as if it’s some deep insight you’re bestowing upon people who have never thought of it before?

Prime example of Techdirt fanboy without least self-awareness, being everything he’s accusing of! The ankle-biters are starting to snap at each other!

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Bruce C. says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

You mean like Civil Asset Forfeiture is only used on drug kingpins and terrorists? This is an area where I definitely expect scope creep. if they can’t get you for conspiracy and they can’t get you for tax evasion, now they’ll have another tool to harass people with.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Nathan F (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Which won’t happen until someone actually experiences getting their life wrung through the ringers. As opposed to you know, the courts actually taking the law after it has passed Congress and the President and giving their yay or nay on it. Nope, gotta wait till someone is harmed by it to determine if it is unconstitutional or not.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

"This will throw literally everyone on Twitch and YouTube in prison."

Not everyone. But I really wouldn’t want to be a monetized youtube streamer in the US under this legislation. Liebowitz and Hansmeier may be out of the running but if there’s one thing the US is in no shortage of it’s third-rate immoral copyright trolls eager to take glaring advantage of any law encouraging a certain measure of avaricious opportunistic abuse.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Not exactly

The reality of the wording won’t necessarily prevent a chilling effect. And websites will lock down the activities of their users if they fear legal repercussions, so whether a user goes to jail is irrelevant in regards to the effect it can still have.

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Jojo (profile) says:

Not surprised to be honest

Really the government is controlled by two outsider groups:

One is a warmongering, overbloated greed machine that invades others for the sake of the constitution, proclaims that our country is free, but ruins masses of innocents in the process and has entrenched itself into the lives of almost every politician and it acts as a contradiction of the intended principles of the United States of America.

The other is the US military.

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Congrats, player! Welcome to Draconian Tier 4. says:

20 years of your life WASTED railing at copyright!

"but-why?" — Because creators are valued by civil society, and pirates / thieves are NOT.

Simple fact is that even enjoying, let alone "monetizing", copyrighted products without paying is not permitted.

You’re plain WRONG (that copyright is just "a moral question"), Maz, and I’m CORRECT (that it’s a Right to be enforced against violators).

Shoulda took my advice last year, Maz, and closed this "blog" while could leave with shreds of dignity. It’ll be clear that you were chased out by THE LAW, now.

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Congrats, player! Welcome to Draconian Tier 4. says:

Re: 20 years of your life WASTED railing at copyright!

By the way, those who passed CDA Section 230 are sellouts too, and even worse because an unprecedented immunity to corporations, NOT protecting a Right which is in body of Constitution.

Of course, a corporatist doesn’t regard S230 as being bought, because benefits corporations. Just shows how Masnick is biased.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: 20 years of your life WASTED railing at copyright!

You do not seem to understand that losing section 230, and strengthening copyright will remove all routes to publication other than acceptance by an editor. You should also not that editors only accept a fraction of a percent of the material submitted to them. These bill are nothing other than a large step to giving publishers total control over what is published.

Want to publish a film, get a studio to accept, want to publish music, get signed by a label, want to publish a book, get it accepted by a publisher, anything else, send a letter to an editor. Can’t get it published by any of those routes, produce and sell your own copies, but note you will have no Internet sites to help you achieve that because it will be too risky unless it is accepted by an editor, so you are down to hawking your wares on street corner.

In reality the old publishers, labels and studios are not that concerned about actual piracy, but rather are using it to attack legal self publishing, which is competing with what they sell.

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Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m surprised at you, Brainy. Here you are, railing about evil corporations and corporatism and “creators are valued” and all that nonsense, and yet you support corporations being given control of property rights as if they’re “actual persons” (or is it “actual individuals”?). How do you square that circle?

And yes, copyright is a moral question. I mean, do you think of the idea of locking up culture behind a walled garden of property rights for at least three-quarters of a century, such that no one who was alive when a work is created will likely survive long enough to make use of that work when it falls into the public domain (e.g., Michael Jackson’s music), as “morally righteous”?

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Nothing cheaper to buy than a politician's integrity

The only question at this point is exactly how much it took to buy those involved, whether it took five digits on a check, four digits, or merely a pinky-promise that if they did this they’d see a little ‘bonus’ next time ‘donation’ time comes around.

Still, nice of them to admit that the bills are complete garbage that can’t stand up their own, that’s probably the most honest they’ve ever been in their lives.

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Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Making dissenters disappear

Already law in the US is used to disappear people who are too active in their dissent of current establishment, especially those who have footage that embarrasses people in power (from the brutality of the beat officers on the bottom to the candid hot-mix expressions of apathy or cruel disinterest at the top).

It doesn’t matter why this content becomes ineligible for public consumption and we’ve already seen DMCA takedowns used to censor legitimate content. This is going to enable the status-quo police (e.g. all of law enforcement) to go even further and not just demonetize or take down content but silence the creators permanently.

And if this enables the system to do it. It will do it.

And it’s worth noting the victims will be stuffed into our prison system which not only has a 33%+ assault rate, but a 20% COVID-19 infection rate.

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Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Making dissenters disappear

Huh? You mean how some trolls and assholes get their comments hidden behind a pink wall that I can just click to show?

To be fair, it technically is a disappearance, but one that can easily be reappeared that even a 3-year-old toddler or a geriatric luddite could figure it out.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Oh, look the editor is rejecting me. I guess I better go down to the street corner and hope someone will buy my crap then. At least while I still can that is. I’m sure the next Omnibus bill will contain measures about thwarting illegal street corner piracy. Property rights? Heh, only if you can afford to buy them from Congress and Hollywood.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: 'Oh, you know the ones...'

And which ‘opinions’ would those be, because I don’t seem to recall many people arguing the merits of lower taxes, smaller governments or such things in the TD comment sections, so if you’re going to say that ‘conservative opinions’ are being hidden by all means list them.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 'Oh, you know the ones...'

"And which ‘opinions’ would those be…"

By the hidden comments I’ve read so far apparently the "opinion" that racism is something black people do against white people; wearing a badge means you can do no wrong; the south shall rise again; "the Kenyan Muslim ruint dis country!" and that You Evil Pirates Shall All Burn.

Also, to a great extent among some self-styled Comrades of the alt-right and "conservatives", "conservative" appears to mean a call for government to seize the means of production whenever social media is concerned, because corporations need to prove their utility to the common good.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Making dissenters disappear

"..any conservative’s opinion….especially on TechDirt."

Well, no, conservative opinions are usually read and responded to.

I guess we’ll have to remind you people, once again, that thinly veiled white supremacy rhetoric and a string of ad homs followed by an outright falsehood are not, inherently, conservative opinions.

Feel free to actually come up with a conservative comment which doesn’t have to rely on manifest lies to make it’s case or tries to marginalize every reader inclined to disagree. I guarantee you there will be no flags.

ECA (profile) says:

Love the system

Its interesting that all the things we have done to control the gov. have gone.
That they are making the system now.
Some have tried to make the system Viewable to what is happening. there are even groups ouyt there that COUNT the pennies, exchanged.
But HOW much to change YOUR opinion on something? And how many are paying you to change it?

300,000,000+ people in this country, and a good 65-80% are of working age. At $1000 each <$300 billion? And they want to give away $900 billion? TO WHO?
Once you take the $300B away we have allot left over.
But its being told that Each person MIGHT get $600, NOT $1000.
I will bet the debate is based on how many people live in 1 home, that a home with 2 Adult persons, would be getting $1200.

210 million Should be getting a fair amount? Even at $1000 each. But whats left is over 600 billion? With around 500+ federal representatives Thats 1 billion each with change. Isnt it?
WHY give it to the CORPS?
They could PAY themselves to be FAIR and equitable. but thats not going to happen. They think they are getting MORE under the table them JUST SCREWING US DIRECTLY.

But I dont think they thought it out that way.

ECA (profile) says:

Re: Will this do anything?

unless you can get Every World wide site to RECORD links to those Downloading. And then PROVE, that they dont have an original copy and are just supplying a Backup.
But consider 230. WHO is responsible? the Site owner, the person who Uploaded the Data, or the Downloader? And IN WHAT country does OUR law over rule THEIRS?

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Will this do anything?

"So basically, this barely changes a thing in the grand scheme of things if it is applied as intended and not used against individuals?"

Well, it does give a new lease of life to the chosen business model of a few thousand US copyright trolls. Hansmeier and Steele will be looking out through their bars at the Eldorado unfolding just outside, powerless to partake in the roaring crowd rushing forth, bellowing "Thar’s gold in dem dere intarnetz!", suitcases and subpoenas in hand.

Anonymous Coward says:

In a sense… they’re not wrong. Government funding has always been dependent on them spooning and sucking off Hollywood. Chris Dodd made it very clear in 2012 that he”d go as far as to jeopardize the careers of various people in government as penance for SOPA’s defeat.

This isn’t to say that this should be the norm. Far from it. The fact that this is how things have always been – the fact that the entertainment industry essentially has the government held to ransom – should be absolutely terrifying.

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That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: You do not mess with The Holy Porn

For future reference there’s a ‘Submit a Story’ link at the bottom of the page if you run across stories that you think TD might be interested in.

As for the bill itself talk about batshittery front to back. From utterly insane requirements on sites(24 hour hotline, two hour max takedown times, requirements for a signed approval letter per image, making downloads illegal) to such things as a ‘who’s in porn’ list that I’m sure people would be tripping over themselves to sign up for, requiring sites to do the impossible by matching people against the aformentioned ‘I’m in porn but keep it on the downlow’ list that bill was very clearly written by someone who’s either terrified of the naked body and/or pandering to those who are.

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

WTF?

I love the must upload a signed consent form for each person in the image that identifies them part. That would kill it overnight all on it’s own.

There’s even a "platform must host a 24-hour telephone hotline" for content removal requests. (I guess Ma Bell is strapped for cash these days….)

There’s even a prohibition on downloads that reads that all images whether in compliance or not cannot be downloaded in a "retrievable data file" format. I guess they want to ban distribution here too. (May as well go big or go home.)

A database for sites to check all uploads against and block anything that matches. (Of persons to never allow depictions of.)

Oh look, at least it doesn’t affect 230. (So we’re good right?)

This bill is ridiculous. Most of the porn industry would just move out of the US’s jurisdiction as a workaround.

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Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

"This bill is ridiculous. Most of the porn industry would just move out of the US’s jurisdiction as a workaround."

Most of the platforms will have to do that, if even a tenth of the gibberish floating around congress actually passes.

I can only imagine, hypothetically, something similar happening (over a far slower time scale) when we first found out the hard way that messenger immunity, private property, burden of proof, and free speech were unavoidable requirements for a civilized society.

Anonymous Coward says:

It’s already against the law to host infringing content for download, the streaming bill will make it harder for startups who might want to compete with twitch.
I think the porn bill is aimed against websites that host video clips , it would be impossible to even make a complete list of all the people who appear in a million videos made years ago.
There’s no imdb for adult films. Maybe the porn websites, ll all move to Canada or Mexico.
The supreme Court has ruled adult films are legal this just
puts extra costs on any porn websites
There’s 1000s of people employed just streaming video games
and sometimes games have music as part of the soundtrack
Twitch has received 1000s of dmca notices on music played in games from the dmca

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Very true about porn sites moving to Canada, Mexico, or whatever.

It is also true about one pirate site in the Netherlands offering popular US channels, that operates much like your cable company would, in that you have to pay more if you want more channels, albeit less than you would to your local cable company.

Since they operate out of the Netherlands, that site is not subject to any laws in the United States, as their company, and their servers are all in the Netherlands.

And they have been operating for over 10 years and are not subject to any American laws

Shoreline says:

If Hollywood keeps going down this rabbit hole, they’re going to run into an unintended consequence — their content is going to increasingly get ignored and the media market is going to get ever more fragmented. Siloing yourself to the point where you’re criminalizing the action of people talking about your product flies in the face of open source approaches that are simply more economically successful.

Of course this will also have a depressive effect in general on our economy as interaction effectively also becomes criminalized.

Anonymous Coward says:

The new felony streaming bill is written similar to DMCA 512

DMCA 512 also requires some kind of financial gain, meaning you have to be making money.

If that requirement were not in there, nearly the entire US population would be subject to criminal prosecution

The most common "crack" people use are to circumvent Product Activation in Windows, Flight Simulator, or Office, so they can continue using their legally purchased copy if they change any hardware in their computer.

Doing this for personal use does not violate the criminal sections of DMCA 512 becuase it is not being done for financial gain (making money).

That is why, for example, when I go to Mexico and I use the VPN on my home computer network, to bypass gepographic restrictions and be able to listen to iHeart while I am down there on road trips, and not be violating the DMCA because I am not doing for any purposes of making money.

Some people here think that I am breaking the DMCA by using my VPN to listen to iHeart, while I am driving in Mexico, but I am not, because I am not doing it for any kind of financial gain.

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