We’ve released a new policy brief, Protecting Authors and Artists by Closing the Streaming Loophole, by Devlin Hartline & Matthew Barblan.
They argue that in order to protect authors and artists from having their works repeatedly stolen on the internet, it is long past time to harmonize the remedies for criminal copyright infringement to reflect the ways that copyrighted works are commonly misappropriated these days.
We’ve included the Introduction below. To read the full policy brief, please click here.
Protecting Authors and Artists by Closing the Streaming Loophole
By Devlin Hartline & Matthew Barblan
Copyright protects the property rights of authors and artists through both civil and criminal remedies for infringement. While the civil remedies are commonplace, the sections of the Copyright Act that specify which forms of infringement qualify as criminal offenses are less familiar. Unfortunately for authors and artists, the remedies for criminal infringement have not been updated to reflect the realities of how copyrighted works are frequently misappropriated these days. Streaming has become more popular than ever, yet the law treats bad actors who traffic in illicit streams much more kindly than those who traffic in illicit downloads. This results in a loophole that emboldens bad actors and makes it harder for authors and artists to protect their property rights.
Authors and artists deserve better. It shouldn’t matter whether the works are illegally streamed to users or offered for download. From the perspective of a creator whose property rights are being ripped off, the result is exactly the same—the works are supplied to the public without the creator’s permission. Congress has a long history of modernizing copyright law to account for ever-changing technologies. Now that the internet has advanced to where streaming is a dominant method of illicitly disseminating copyrighted works, the time has come to close the streaming loophole and to harmonize the remedies for criminal copyright infringement.