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US Senators' letter to prioritise actions under new anti-piracy laws

The new US Attorney General is urged to actively prosecute illegal streaming services in a letter by the leaders of the intellectual property subcommittee in the American Senate. Through the letter, Senators Patrick Leahy and Thom Tillis want to ensure proper execution of the new Protecting Lawful Streaming Act, pledging for extra guidance for country’s Department Of Justice so they quickly - and rightfully - utilise the powers granted under the new law.

The new PLSA in effect brought commercial-level online infringement in line with commercial-level physical product infringement by increasing the possible penalties the infringers could face. The new laws were crafted by Tillis himself and voted through by Congress late last year as part of a mega-spending bill. In their letter to the new AG - Merrick Garland - the senators stated:

“Unlawful streaming services cost the US economy an estimated $29 billion per year. This illegal activity impacts growth in the creative industries in particular, which combined employ 2.6 million Americans and contribute $229 billion to the economy per year. In short, unlawful streaming is a threat to our creative industries and the economic security and well-being of millions of Americans”.

The PLSA, they then add,

“empowers the Department Of Justice to pursue felony charges against criminal commercial piracy enterprises”.

With that in mind, they wonder,

“will you commit to making prosecutions under the PLSA a priority?”.

And, if so,

“what steps will you take during your first one hundred days to demonstrate your commitment to combating copyright piracy?”

The PLSA was carefully worded so it only targets businesses that run unlicensed streaming services on a commercial basis. This was done to counter concerns that the new laws could result in individuals facing criminal action for streaming unlicensed material. As a result, the PLSA, was not opposed by the tech sector and digital rights groups unlike other copyright matters in the same spending bill. Because of this the senators urge the AG to put in place extra guidance to ensure that only the commercial operators of illegal streaming set-ups are targeted by the DoJ. They ask in their letter;

“What type of guidance do you intend to provide to make clear that prosecutions should only be pursued against commercial piracy services?”,

and continued with:

“Such guidance should make clear that the law does not allow the department to target the ordinary activities of individual streamers, companies pursuing licensing deals in good faith, or internet service providers, and should be reflective of congressional intent as reflected in our official record”.

Leahy and Tillis request that Garland respond to their various queries by no later than 12 Apr.


Source: CMU