The Music Industry Wants to Make ‘Unauthorized Streaming’ a Felony

Giving corporations the right to censor the internet is one of the worst ideas ever. But of course the multibillion dollar music industry wants to do just that, again. After two previous forays into internet censorship, SOPA and PIPA, were scuttled because of immense online backlash, the music industry is trying again. They want to make it a felony to engage in unauthorized streaming and to censor websites corporations deem infringe on their property rights.

Experts warn that such filters not only don’t work, they invariably result in unintended censorship, chilling legitimate speech and potentially breaking the internet. A lesson the industry refuses to learn after years of controversy, instead insisting that the unintended consequences of their massive global censorship were acceptable to them.

The Recording Industry Of America (RIAA) and the National Music Publishers’ Association (NMPA) sent their latest recommendations for censorship to the US Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator.

“These include fixing the [Digital Millennium Copyright Act], making it a felony to knowingly engage in unauthorized streaming of copyrighted works, and investigating the positive impact that website blocking of foreign sites has in other jurisdictions and whether U.S. law should be revised accordingly,” the industry argued. They insisted that “website blocking has had a positive impact in other countries.”

Copyright experts explain that these “unintended consequences” are a frequent occurrence. In one instance 84,000 websites were wrongly shuttered in one copyright enforcement effort by Homeland Security, in another incident in Australian more than a quarter million non-infringing websites were targeted and taken offline.

When countries apply such systems at scale with little to no recourse for the unfairly targeted the negative impact can be devastating to free expression. And can be put into the hands of whatever massive corporate lobbying groups dictate.



Image adapted from: “S.O.P.A. destroys internet” by Jose Mesa is licensed under CC BY 2.0