The Digital Millennium Copyright Act or the DMCA has been hitting the content creators on Twitch since last year. Now, the latest omnibus government funding bill in the United States might affect them even more.

DMCA strikes

In the United States, "must-pass" omnibus bills are a set of spending bills which need to pass in order for the government and its bodies to function and not shut down, according to Variety.

The government usually struggles to pass omnibus bills and it is usually exploited by some senators who want take the opportunity to tuck in controversial bills that can't pass on their own, but will pass if attached to "must-pass" bills.

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This year, the CASE Act, the Trademark Modernization Act and a felony streaming proposal were all included in the omnibus spending bill, which has put creators on a frenzy.

According to Protocol, the felony streaming proposal is a measure that is pushed by Republican Senator Thom Tillis. As reported by Torrentfreak, this is not the first time that the Republican senator wanted to make streaming piracy a felony.

If the bill passes, any copyrighted material that is used unauthorized in a content creator's stream will be immediately considered as a felony offence. This means that content creators may face jail time. This bill can carry on in different social media platforms like Instagram Stories, TikTok video and clips from Twitch.

Currently, the unauthorized use of copyrighted material is categorized as public performance and not considered as an illegal distribution.

Katharine Trendacosta, the Electronic Frontier Foundation's associate director of policy and activism stated that a felony streaming bill would be a chill on expression.

Trendacosta added that they already see that it is difficult enough in civil copyright for people to feel comfortable asserting their rights. A felony charge would affect expression and innovation.

Who is Senator Thom Tillis?

Senator Thom Tillis is the chairman of the Intellectual Property Subcommittee. This bill is inspired by SOPA and PIPA bills from 2012, both of which did not pass.

Senator Tillis' campaign is backed up by the biggest corporations in the entertainment industry, who have been lobbying for years for stronger copyright enforcement on social media platforms.

The Republican senator received donations from Sony Pictures, Motion Picture Association, Universal Music Group, ASCAP, NBCUniversal, Comcast, Television Association, The Internet, Warner Music, Salem Media Group and other.

This is worrisome for content creators who already fought against the application of copyright laws leading to DMCA strikes and bans on Twitch.

If the bill passes, an accidental copyright infringement could be immediately considered as a felony and it could affect the way that we stream videos.

The deadline for the omnibus bill was last wee, December 11, but the voting has been delayed until December 18, so there is still a chance for this bill to be removed.

Content creators and fans have started trending #stopDMCA on December 16, to help raise awareness over the matter and how dangerous the bill can be.

The government and the Congress are negotiating over the coronavirus relief package. This means that voting for the omnibus funding has been delayed several times already. The streaming community is currently living in fear that the felony streaming proposal might go unnoticed and pass.

Related Article: Twitch Launches Soundtrack for Streamers to Enjoy Licensed Background Music Without DMCA Notices

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Written by Sieeka Khan

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