The headline of the stimulus bill, passed by Congress on Monday, was the $600 checks that are part of it. However, the bill is thousands of pages long and includes all sorts of things that actually have little or nothing to do with getting people back on their feet in these hard times. One such provision has changed illegal streaming from being a misdemeanor to being a felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail.
This provision in the bill was introduced by Republican senator Thom Tillis, and is known as The Protecting Lawful Streaming Act. It states that “[i]t shall be unlawful for a person to willfully, and for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain, offer or provide to the public a digital transmission service” of copyrighted material for financial gain. The first offense could be punishable with up to five years in prison and the second offense up to 10. Variety has a good write-up of what this means for the film industry.
So, the good news here is that this doesn’t appear to be a situation like when people my age were using Napster and the government was going after random citizens downloading music. On the margins, this legislation might make it harder to find live sports streaming. This already became more difficult when Reddit shut down their sports streaming forums in 2019, but it’s kind of a game of whack-a-mole because as soon as these outlets get shut down, others pop up.