Do you record your video gameplay and upload it to the internet? Do you create or watch video game walkthroughs, reviews, "Let's Play" videos, speedruns or machinima on YouTube? Do you broadcast your gameplay or tune in to other gamers' livestreams? If so, then you need to be aware of a bill now making its way through the American legal system that would make streaming gaming videos a felony punishable by a hefty fine or even jail time.
The aim of this law, Senate bill S.978, is ostensibly to punish those who illegally upload music, movies and television shows. However, it also inadvertently targets gamers who share gameplay video online, since it does not distinguish between different types and uses of copyrighted content. As the bill is now written, someone who uploaded a video walkthrough or a karaoke performance of a copyrighted song would essentially be subject to the same penalties as someone who streamed a pirated movie online.
As he says, this bill is not intended to penalize gamers, only to protect content creators, but through careless wording it goes farther than it probably should. "The people who have written this bill simply don't understand the internet and what we're doing on it. I agree that in the case of TV, film and music, streaming and uploading stuff to YouTube is a bad thing and it hurts those industries. In the case of video games, we 'let's-players' and viewers are a big part of fueling the growth of our industry. ...[We essentially provide] free and powerful advertising."
If you agree with this and think that punishing gamers for sharing video online is a bad idea, I encourage you to speak out. Contact your senators and representatives directly or just take a few seconds to sign this petition opposing bill S.978:
I also encourage you to post a comment on this important issue below or come and talk about it with fellow gamers on our Facebook page.
For more information, visit these links:
- Govtrack.us - full text of bill S.978
- Demandprogress.org - Petition opposing the bill
- Techdirt.com article
- Thunderboltgames.com editorial
- Shoryuken.com Editorial
- Giant Bomb takes a more moderate approach
- More S.978 news (via Google)
Under S.978, I'm a criminal and could spend 5 years in jail for teaching people how to do an adrenaline dodge and headshot.
Special thanks to Nathan E. for bringing this issue to my attention.