Many of us remember a time not long ago when peer-to-peer file sharing sites like Napster threatened to financially ruin the music industry. While the law has clamped down on illegal downloading for copyright violations, the market has changed in response. Although illegal downloads have dwindled over recent years, many Americans are now turning to streaming piracy. Many view this practice as harmless, but the truth of the matter is that it still violates the rights of entertainers and copyright holders.
Streaming piracy is a criminal offense, but it is only charged as a misdemeanor, which is a significantly less serious than the offense of downloading piracy. Fortunately, this discrepancy has caught the eyes of lawmakers. In fact, A Senate committee recently sent a letter to the U.S. Copyright Office seeking guidance on its view of illegal streaming services. Responding to that letter, the U.S. Copyright office indicated that it believed that illegal streaming violates copyright holders' right to public performance. It also voiced concern over how illegal streaming may infringe upon a copyright holder's right to control reproduction and distribution.
It looks like legislation may be posed in the not too distant future in an attempt to address this loophole. If successful, it may give copyright holders more power to police and prosecute those who infringe on their rights. If such legislation were to pass, then the penalties violators would see could be on par with those file sharers face, which are quite significant.
Of course, criminal penalties can act as a deterrent and provide a sense of justice, but they do nothing to protect copyright holders' financial interests. This is where a copyright infringement lawsuit can fill the void. Those who think they've been wronged by illegal file sharing or streaming should consider seeking legal guidance with regard to how best to stop the illegal activity and protect their financial interests.