Commentary: Bill makes embedding YouTube videos illegal

Some US senators are floating a bill that would modify the civil and criminal sections of current copyright law. It would also make embedding YouTube videos illegal.

According to TechDirt, the full text of Senate bill 978 has been released, and it is a bill that would revise the criminal penalty provision for criminal infringement of a copyright, and for other purposes. And it might be used to take legal action against people for embedding YouTube videos.


You can thank Senators Amy Klobuchar, John Cornyn and Christopher Coons for this totalitarian bill.


The current copyright law in civil cases covers a list of rights: reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works or perform the work. The rules that define criminal infringement only cover reproducing and distributing, but not performing.

Therefore, supporters claim that all this does is fix copyright law and bring the criminal side into balance with the civil side by adding “performance rights” to the list of things people aren’t allowed to do.


Raise your hand if you ever thought that it would be a criminal act to perform a work without permission.

Sure you might be able to make the argument that performing is a form of infringement, but we can use minor fines to take care of that.


When we criminalize the act of performance it raises all sorts of ethical and political issues.  


Readers of this website might want to check out the full text of this bill because “performance” is not clearly defined in it, and many of you use YouTube.


It doesn’t detail whether streaming is considered performance or how embedding factors into this. So we can only assume it’s going after both because it’s nearly the same thing.


The worst part of the bill is how it defines what makes up a potential felony crime in these circumstances: “the offense consists of 10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copyrighted works.”


Basically, if you embed a YouTube video that they claim infringes on copyrights, and more than 10 people see it because of your link, you might be looking at five years in the jail house.


Whenever there is a copyright violated that is reported YouTube takes the videos down. This law goes much further and it turns people who embed a copyrighted video into criminals. Big media loves it because it sets up a system that will criminalize linking to copyrighted material, like their news sources.


Government loves it because would make people afraid to put up all kinds of informational videos and it would also help shut down alternative media and citizen journalism. This would leave only the privileged media to cover the government’s activities.


We all know how well the establishment media presents news and information. So this is not good news.


Clearly there is a political war going on to attempt to stop people from presenting information and sharing things with each other. You can’t be friendly and share your Netflix account in Tennessee anymore. And now you might not be able to use YouTube to do anything other than waste your time with nutshot videos for fear of the copyright brigade coming after you.


Yet when I talk about this kind of stuff in my social circle, I’m the one who has beliefs that are “out there.”Welcome to the wussifcation of our nation.