Coronavirus relief bill makes illegal streaming a felony

After months of stalemate, Congress finally passed a bill to purportedly aid Americans struggling to survive the coronavirus lockdown-inflicted economic crisis — but that’s not all.

The more than 5,000 page bill that passed on Monday would make it a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison to stream digital entertainment illegally, Breitbart reported.

Unrelated provisions

The $900 billion coronavirus stimulus was packaged together with a last-minute spending deal to keep the government funded through 2021, resulting in a massive $2.3 trillion bill.

The nearly 6,000 page bill, which offers $600 stimulus checks rather than the $1,200 from the CARES Act, has been slammed by critics as a meager lifeline for Americans struggling to stay afloat, and a give-away to special interests.

As Breitbart noted, one of those interests seems to be Hollywood, which received an early Christmas present in the form of a provision to make illegal, for-profit streaming a felony punishable by up to 10 years in jail. The provision, called the Protect Lawful Streaming Act, is the brainchild of Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC).

The bill targets for-profit, “large-scale criminal streaming services” and will not affect users who may pirate content, according to Tillis. “Individuals who might use pirate streaming services will not be affected,” a press release said.

“The law will not sweep in normal practices by online service providers, good faith business disputes, noncommercial activities, or in any way impact individuals who access pirated streams or unwittingly stream unauthorized copies of copyrighted works,” he added.

COVID bill takes fire

A number of senators who supported the bill touted its “narrow” and “targeted” approach, saying it would save the economy $30 billion a year without interfering with users.

The Motion Picture Association of America hailed the bill, which also includes a tax deduction for film and TV production companies, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

Republicans and Democrats reached a compromise on coronavirus relief after months of negotiations, with both parties agreeing to drop intractable disagreements on liability protections for businesses and state and local government funding. In addition to $600 stimulus checks, the bill includes a $300 boost to unemployment per week and aid for small businesses.

The sprawling $2.3 trillion bill has also been criticized for its length, the hurried manner of its passage and the inclusion of seemingly unrelated material.

That includes funding to create two entirely new Smithsonian museums to celebrate Latino and women’s history, billions of dollars in foreign aid, and more.

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