“Tolling the Stream” (Be Jailed for Streaming?) by UltraDavid

By on June 29, 2011 at 6:27 pm

David “UltraDavid” Graham (for Shoryuken.com) explains why, if bill S.978 passes, you could be jailed for streaming video games, or even uploading them to youtube;

The United States Senate is in the process of considering bill S.978, a bill “To amend the criminal penalty provision for criminal infringement of a copyright,” or as you might know it, the Anti-Streaming Bill.  There’s been some discussion about what it really means and how it would affect stuff we care about, so I’d like to clear everything up.  To be blunt, if passed it would pretty significantly reconfigure American copyright law in ways that could honestly really hurt internet culture in general and our video game communities specifically.

So what does it do?  Its stated purpose is to attack the online streaming of copyrighted works, specifically films and live television.  It tries to do this by criminalizing some electronically transmitted (read: internet) public performances of copyrighted works.

Background: the law is split into criminal law and civil law.  In (very) short, criminal is for things designated as crimes (like murder and theft), can involve jail time, and is handled by the government, whereas civil law covers everything else, doesn’t involve the risk of jail, and can only be sued over by whatever entity actually got screwed.  Copyright law has both criminal and civil law sides, but with a few significant exceptions copyright mostly sticks to civil law in practice.  That means that only the copyright owner can sue you for infringement, and the worst thing that can usually happen is that you either get a cease and desist letter and stop what you’re doing or you  pay the copyright owner some dough.  While that can be really costly (up to $150k per infringement, although that’s very uncommon), you can’t get sent to jail.

More background: there are four major exclusive rights granted to copyright holders, including the exclusive rights to reproduce a copyrighted work, to distribute it, to modify it, and to perform or display it.  Streaming a copyrighted video game audiovisual work can involve all four of those rights, but most obviously it’s a performance of that work transmitted to members of the online  public. Infringements of the performance right have only ever been handled by civil law, that is, subject only to getting shut down or to paying the copyright owner some money; there’s never ever been a criminal penalty for an unlicensed  performance of a copyrighted work.  This bill breaks with all previous copyright history and tradition by criminalizing some unauthorized performances.  Here’s the text: http://t.co/eAgrD96.

According to the bill as it’s currently written, if you engage in “public performances by electronic means” 10 or more times over a 180 day period, and if either the total economic value of those performances exceeds $2500 or the cost of getting the copyright holder’s permission to perform exceeds $5000, then you can potentially get fined and put in jail for 5 years.  Jail.  FIVE YEARS.

Just to hit you over the head with this, that means that if you stream a game like Street Fighter 4 or Starcraft 2 (or a movie or a song etc) only 10 or more times in a full half year, and if you make a bit of money doing it, you either need to have a license from Capcom or Blizzard etc or you risk going to jail.

Amusingly slash horrifyingly enough, it gets worse.  The wording of this bill is so vague that “performance” could count for a crap-ton of what we who understand the internet would consider very different things.  The offense is defined super broadly: “public performance by electronic means.”  That includes live streaming of copyrighted audiovisual works, of course, but it almost certainly also includes recorded YouTube videos of copyrighted audiovisual works, whether they be match vids, game footage/live shot hybrids, movies, TV shows, music, and so on.  Going off other legal precedent, it might even cover embedding an infringing YouTube vid and videos of kids lip syncing to music.

In essence, a bill intended to limit the unauthorized live streaming of films and TV could result in potential jail time for a lot of people doing very different things.  While the bill’s sponsors might not have known how wide-ranging its effect could be at first, they’ve been confronted with that since the text was released and they show no signs of pulling it back.

What about the monetary limits?  Well, they actually aren’t that high.  If you don’t think our major streamers, casters, and uploaders make $2500 over a full half a year, you’re crazy.  Keep in mind, the wording of the bill is “the total economic value of such public performances to the infringer or to the copyright owner.”  Total, meaning revenue from live streaming, plus revenue for replays, plus compensation by a tournament for coming to stream in the first place, and so on.  And economic value, as in not net profit but just the amount of revenue coming in.

Because almost every use of an audiovisual work online can be considered a public performance, this might drastically change how people behave online.  No longer is the penalty for uploading infringing videos just getting shut down or having to pay the copyright owner.  If the vids become popular, you might go to jail.

Now, obviously some companies, including video game publishers like Capcom and Blizzard, tend to take a hands-off approach to the constant unauthorized streams and replays our scenes pump out.  So why worry?  Surely they wouldn’t send us to jail.

But that’s only in a world where the performance right is merely a civil law provision, where the only ones who can bust infringers are copyright owners.  Jamming the performance right into criminal law means that the government gets involved and gets to decide whether to bring charges on its own.  Whereas for now video game publishers can (and usually do) let infringing live streams and replays slide, in the future the government might be able to bring criminal charges regardless of whether the copyright holder says to.  In practice the government tends not to go after infringers unless notified by copyright holders, but if it wants to it can go after infringers anyway.

I don’t want to be too alarmist here.  It strikes me as very unlikely that the government would take the time and money to put someone in jail for streaming a Marvel vs Capcom 3 tournament.  But since this would be a totally new thing, I can’t say for sure; I don’t think anyone can.  I also don’t think it’s a great idea to ever play Russian roulette, regardless of whether the gun has a hundred chambers or ten thousand.

I think the consequences for our relationship with video game copyright holders are obvious.  It would no longer be good enough that Capcom takes a hands off approach to us publicly performing their copyrighted works, because the government could still bust us if it wants.  I can’t imagine that many people would risk jail time by engaging in publicly viewable, easily findable unauthorized performances like tournament streams or popular YouTube vids.  The result might be that the only people streaming or putting up replays are those who have licenses from copyright holders explicitly allowing them to do so.

And I think that would be a disaster for our culture.  It means the gut gets slit right out of our media side, because while having a few big names and groups is great, without voluntary participation by whoever wants to be involved I feel like we’ll lose a huge portion of the vibrant, fast-moving dynamism that I love about our scenes.  Maybe we’ll be able to get permission easily, but in my personal experience it’s been anything but easy for video game copyright owners to grant licenses.

When I was writing this, one of my friends said, “Dude, but like, you’re a lawyer who practices this exact kind of law.  Aren’t you like totally stoked that pretty much every streamer and uploader ever is gonna need to pay you to get all licenses and stuff for them from Capcom and Blizzard and Microsoft and all that?”  No, that would suck.  Would I trade the viability of my community for some dollars?  EAD.

I think a good chunk of what this is about is just the old guard not understanding what’s happening nowadays.  Technology like free, instant, and relatively simple mass streaming or uploading by anyone to infinite viewers all over the world is just… really new.  And I think the entertainment industry has no idea how to approach that, so instead of taking advantage of it themselves, they’d rather make sure everyone else has a hard time coming in instead.

Companies like Capcom are starting to understand how streaming or casting tournaments and match footage can be really positive for them, but they don’t know how to do it themselves, so they let us do it instead.  But traditional film and television companies, who are the real drivers behind this bill, have even less of a clue.  It seems natural to us that if we can watch a show on live TV we should be able to watch it live on our computers too, but that’s barely even on the radar for TV companies.  The vacuum left between how we want to watch shows and how the content publishers want to give them to us has been taken up by streamers, and that makes the streamers money and the copyright owners mad.

Even worse, the people in government are so clueless as to how to approach all this that they’re letting themselves get run over by an old industry attempting to destroy or seriously harm the development of newer technologically literate communities.  They have no thought for how copyright owners can benefit from streamers rebroadcasting live TV, usually complete with ads and all, to people who don’t have TV and otherwise wouldn’t be able to see the content or the ads.  They don’t consider how video game community streamers, casters, and uploaders are making games more popular and valuable, or how they’re filling vacuums of competition and entertainment that the older entertainment companies are simply incapable of filling themselves.  They just have this knee-jerk, 2nd millennium theory of copyright and ownership that reacts very negatively to any loss of control.

This is not law yet.  Quick recap if you don’t know how a bill is passed here: one house of Congress (either the House of Representatives or the Senate) has to pass a bill, then the other house has to pass it, then the President has to sign it.  Each house has committees, or sub-groups that specialize in certain areas, that have to agree on bills before the rest of the house decides whether to actually pass it.  All that’s happened so far with this bill is that it’s been agreed to by its committee.

But the good money is on it being passed.   It enjoys bipartisan support; it was cosponsored by two Democrats and a Republican.  Its goals were identified and proposed by the Obama administration.  And if anyone in government is on the fence, it has the weight of very significant traditional entertainment industry lobbying behind it.

Tl;dr: This is not a good look.  I don’t know how to yell loud enough to the government that this is a huge mistake, but man, I really feel like we have to try. [Editor’s Note: Head over to Demand Progress to make your voice heard in just one click, you lazy bum]

David “UltraDavid” Graham wants you to understand how many rewrites this article needed before he could get through it without murder-cussing the clueless older generations who run the government and entertainment industries.  Seriously, it was… a lot.  In real life he’s an attorney with specialties in intellectual property, contracts, and internet law.  His entertainment and video game practice is based in Los Angeles but counts clients across the country.  He can be contacted on his site at www.DPGatLaw.com, by email at David@DPGatLaw.com, or by PM at UltraDavid on Shoryuken.com.

[aditional images from ProtocolSnow, Nevuh Photo, and KaraFace]
  • Ap0llo

    You think im gonna read all that about trolling?

    • TerraZero

      …Shut up.

    • TooItchy

      The article has nothing to do with trolling idiot. It has to do with the very community we are all a part of, completely falling apart, and becoming an illegal, underground group. You think the FGC has seen the dark ages? If this bill passes, we are going to be lucky if there is any kind of a scene in 3 years.

    • savaii64

      No offense, but that sounds like the same mentality possessed by the people who will pass this bill. Ultra David, thanks for raising the alarm on this. Lets all support our scene.

    • V-ismatic

      Do us all a favor: Don’t ever run for public office. Or better still, die in a fire before you ever get the chance.

      • GM Dak

        what the f?

        • V-ismatic

          Dude, in case it wasn’t clear, I was replying to Ap0llo, who wrote:

          “You think im gonna read all that about trolling?”

          • Ragnorok64

            I don’t really think that that makes it ok to wish fiery death on someone.

  • freija

    no words.

  • GirugaMarc

    I wonder if Capcom would really do that. I mean make people that stream and receive donations have to get a “license” from them.

    • TooItchy

      It’s not up to Capcom. If the bill passes, regardless of what Capcom says (they would support our streams), the gov’t would have the authority to shut it down.

      • BillyBones

        …kind of. The bill is about “unauthorized” streaming. All it takes from capcom is a blanket license and we’re all magically authorized.

        Also, it’s a pretty big stretch to imagine the government wasting their time on going after jaxel for steaming 8 on the break to 1k people instead of going after streaming pay per view events to 200k. Law Enforcement likes to get headlines where they are the good guys

        I think UD’s point is better made as “how dare they lump us together with criminals by not thinking through these sorts of things” rather than “sp00ky’s totally going to jail, dudes.”

        • ahdonye

          You need to open a business and see how the idiot government wastes time and money. A friend of mine owns a 2 man handyman service and OSHA came and shut down a work site and fined them hundreds of $$$ when one of the two guys was on a four foot ladder without a hard hat.

      • Goatbot

        If it passes then they could just move the majors outside of the US. Evo could be streamed in Canada for example. Thats the very worst scenario.

        1st off I suggest a facebook group where people not just from Shoryuken but from other sites and streams too can get together. FGC, RTS, FPS players, basically theres literally thousands of streamers, players and viewers out there who can get together in force and discuss a real alternative to this bill and begin to petition against the current one they are trying to push through.

        I wouldnt suggest petitioning against it without first arming yourselves with a viable alternative solution and a way to help these people understand clearly just how significant these streams are in terms of free advertising for the games industry.

        I think a good solution could be petitioning for “media with interactive user controlled content outside of a selection menu or extra features (this can cover against loopholes with BluRay/DVDs) can still be streamed.” so the bill would only apply to films and tv and material where all the material requires no interaction. My view is that while the artwork and animations have been created by the companies such as Capcom, they require user interaction which could class them as user controlled tools rather than running time media such as TV programmes, Music and Films which will run on their own without the necessity for interaction.

        Clearly this bill major flaw lies with its severe lack of definition between mediums. Interactive media is very different to Run Time media. I understand their views to an extent, I mean going to a stream and watching a movie isnt something I can support because once youve seen the film the chances are you will say “seen it, dont need to buy it” which in turn can effect the budgets of productions and force massive job losses. Seeing a game on the other hand then the viewer is likely to say “seen it, I want to do that!! Im buying this game.” then its free advertising promoting the value and in turn the sales of the games industry which helps improve the economy.

        So to sum it up, start a group, lets get everybody involved and force them to distinguish clearly the difference between the different media and make them focus it more directly rather than blind firing in the general direction of what they want changed.

        • HaHussle

          What he said ^

        • UltimateKisame27

          well said!

  • Zephyr

    Government is supposed to represent the people, but I have never met a group so out-of-touch with its people. I’m tired of government spending resources to regulate/fight/legislate entertainment.

    • Nitro263

      100% agreed.

    • Abbel

      +1 like, i hate what our congress and president are doing. Aka nothing. I can’t believe a bunch of worthless balding idiots are running our country. They’re suppose to be working FOR us not AGAINST us.

  • Handbanana9592

    Well…that just sucks. Hopefully this law fails to be passed, but thats all you can really do.

  • Andyman067

    David needs better friends. 🙁

  • J.S.P

    I just have to say I love the article picture…

  • Ubersaurus

    It would be prudent to take these concerns (and possibly even chunks of text from this piece) and contact your local representative/senator demanding that they either drop the whole thing or produce the proper caveats.

    • TerraZero


    • justejacknola

      True that…That’s how our generation is losing out to big business: we are all so purposely detached from politics and even our own communities sometimes.

  • WickedElement

    If that gets passed, the industry will be pushed back further than any benefit they may gain from it. Also, I’d like to add that the release of Street FIghter 3 3rd strike Online Edition will have the option to upload your matches to youtube and if this law gets passed, even those vids(which technically will have the permission of capcom) can potentially still get taken down by the government. 🙁

    • BillyBones

      The proposed law would only be triggered if your upload to youtube is “unauthorized.” As the feature is built in as part of 3sOE, so long as you paid for the game, nobody could, with a straight face, make the argument that your upload was unauthorized.

  • Kobayashi

    WTF do we do?

    • LaserRain

      Come to Canada?

      • Reewind


        • WWDeity

          I like Canada :c

  • haunts

    We’re really lucky that the game companies get what we do but like David mentions its difficult to say what will happen if this passes.

    The bigger picture — for me anyway — is this could potentially seriously cripple how media is delivered across the web which is really really depressing when you think about it. We’re on a serious roll, not only with live streaming, but YouTube and the numerous other ways that you can watch videos or listen to music. Makes me sick to my stomatch that we might be blasted 10 years into the past with this kind of shit instead of figuring out ways to make this beneficial for everyone involved.

    Either way, great article David. Thanks for spending time to put this together.

  • Mr. X

    Not good :[

  • El Sabroso

    1st Spooky for EVO and now, they want Spooky for jail?

  • Xiang

    Out of curiosity, does anyone know of a good way to petition against this? *looks at UD*

  • Midersaw

    This article inspired me to actually create an account and start posting here, after months of lurking. I just want to give a big Thank You to David for all he does for the community and specifically for the info on this bill.

    To everybody else wondering what to do about it, here is a link to find your representative in the House of Reps https://writerep.house.gov/writerep/welcome.shtml

    Write them, and mention the bill by name S.978, expressing the reasons why you disagree with its passage. Maybe even cut and paste sections of David’s letter. Be sure to mention that you are a registered voter and will be following the results of this bill closely. I fully disagree with the attitude that there is nothing we can do about it and whatever will happen is out of our hands. Maybe writing to your rep won’t make a difference, but not writing to them definitely won’t.

    • BLACKSTAR84i

      Thank you, Mindersaw, for the link to our congressman

      I, for one, am writing a letter (via the link) to them in response to this. As a gamer and a tax-paying, law-abiding voter, I am more than willing to tell these politiicians about how stupid and destructive this bill is. I’m just one person, but that’s INFINITELY better than NOBODY saying anything about it!

      I encourange my fellow SRK’ers to do the same. Even if you’re not even in the US! Talk to these corrupt politicians, and we might be able to keep them from passing this insanely stupid bill. We are all enjoying this resurgence in the fighting game scene, and we shouldn’t let anyone get in the way of our livelihood. You like EVO streams? Spooky,ipw? Cross counter episodes? Starcraft? GET ON IT, this means you!

      I hope I get to see a petition about this on the SRK front page real soon! What better way to show how many citizens oppose this bill? Do you have ANY IDEA how many people visit SRK on any given day?! I can see a petition collecting tens of thousands of signatures; we can then pass it on to greater outlets like IGN and Gamespot where the number could increase even more — by that time, these lawmakers will know exactly how we feel

    • Koatl

      Midersaw’s post should be added to the article.

    • samuraicup

      I’ve wrote my representative as well, using this link. I second getting this post in a more visible spot. Too bad I can’t give him rep.

    • justejacknola

      Thanks for the post. This is indeed the best bet…Write in, also get your friends that aren’t quite as hardcore as you to write in. I wonder if similar things are being discussed in other game streaming communities (Starcraft, Halflife, Halo, etc.)?

  • Shoryu Reppa

    This article needs a new title. People are gonna pass over it thinking its about stream monsters.

    On topic: Please save us, Ultradavid

  • AnonymousQ

    “A nation of sheep breeds a Gov’t of Wolves.”

    The government has been actively pumping out freedom restricting bills and legislation for the past decade. It was only a matter of time before ‘big brother’ made his way here. People don’t care/ don’t pay attention until they’re in the frying pan themselves.

    • ironboy89

      This. It’s the sad truth.

  • El_Maiz

    We all thank you, David, for informing us of this potential cultural disaster.

    I am really nervous right now.

  • Simsar

    Having written my senators and reps already I’ve done what I can about this.

    Off topic: If they won’t let us stream fighting games, then god dammit we’ll just have to play them in congress until they also get infected by the hype! Give me streams or die 1000 deaths!

  • FetZ

    It’s pretty obvious this would be a serious problem. If you have any knowledge of the legal battle between KeSPA and Blizzard over the popular SC1 scene, then you would know that this is an eventuality with or without interference by the government. I wish the article had a petition associated with it, or some information about contacting our local representation to lobby against the bill, or at least for a rewording of it’s contents.

    If the Bill passes, it shouldn’t be too difficult for the larger events to acquire a license, but it will really affect the smaller groups who put their matches out there, and really fissure the FG community as a whole. It would also prevent the talented people who have really made this community shine from continuing to do their work at profit.

    I really do hope there is a middle ground here somewhere, I’ve really enjoyed watching tournaments. The past few months especially have been incredible.

  • ddrt

    Haven’t VG companies expressed that they are not behind this in any way and that they reject this bill? Who’s doing this?

    • jtbem


  • phantasy

    wow, what. Does that mean I have to delete my youtube videos? :[

    • Dustlooper

      Ex post facto would suggest that if you did something, then it became illegal, they can’t remove material/arrest you for something that you did before the law was made.

      • mOr5

        I don’t think that is really the way it works, since everytime someone watches one of your uploaded videos somewhere, the bill considers you “streaming” it (via youtube or the likes) to him at exactly that time he’s watching. …right?

  • Sawa

    This is terrible. Anyone who isn’t concerned about this is stupid. We need a way for the average, lazy internet user to contribute.

    Writing to government officials is beyond most people; but several years ago I remember a similar issue concerning internet radio broadcasts. Someone arranged a web app that let people input their location, write a short message (with a default provided), then submit it to their local state officials via email. I participated in this, and even got replies from my senators (or aids) — the bill never passed.

  • Super Scrub

    David is Jesus and he is our savior, though that’s kind of ironic considering that he’s a Jew.

    • the7k

      Actually, Jesus was also a Jew, so it’s more coincidental than ironic.

      • Super Scrub

        But the Jews don’t believe in Jesus so it’s ironic.

    • Missing Person

      Jesus was a Jew too.

      Anyway, when mp3 piracy was in full swing, wasn’t it ultimately the RIAA and the labels themselves that had the final say in whether they press charges or not?

      Since the gaming industry doesn’t have a board like the RIAA, wouldn’t the developers and the publishers also have the final say?

  • PurpleLemonadeGGPO

    I better grab all the fighting game media on youtube while it’s still there

  • LaserRain

    Well if this passes I’ll be waiting for Canada to pass a similar bill I’m sure. Man , fuck both our governments.

    P.S. another great article from UltraDavid

  • SniperNightOwl

    this was way too tl;dr. But I called this a long time ago, and yeah it probably will also result in the bane of youtube. All what will be left is shitty partner sponsored stuff. So many of my friends are getting banned one by one for the copyright crack down. I honestly don’t understand what the harm is by having media on a video sharing website of a game if the person isn’t making money off of it. If anything it promotes the game, and encourages people to take interest in it.

  • Sosage

    It will be a simpler, more wholesome Internet. Like it was in 1999. When we traded footage via VHS tapes.

    Except we’ll all be in jail.


    Just out of curiosity, and I realize this is in no way a satisfactory solution, but would it be possible for game companies to explicitly grant a streaming license in the EULA for new releases?

  • cities

    lousy Democrats (sealab reference)

  • Lemres

    Doesn’t the government have bigger problems like oh say the trillion dollar debt that America’s in? No but they focus on the lower, less-problematic things such as this.

    • Wil

      Hollywood, the MPAA, and the RIAA are likely involved somehow on the way how this bill is written. Of course the short-sighted politician(s) are also involved and proof is that this bill already has made it this far without any changes. The bill is written very poorly with no regard towards streamers, digital media content creators for sites like YouTube, etc. to the point I really hope our president doesn’t pass it.

      This will be a big blow to digital/internet media at a whole. =/

  • Prokiller88

    We should all write letters to our congress reps, I guess. That and spam their emails too.

    • OceanBlue

      Someone should write a letter for everyone to copy and paste for those who don’t know what to say. They can just find their representative and add their names.

      • OceanBlue

        To add [I wish I could edit my posts], considering this involves more than just the fighting game scene, it could probably be worded to involve a larger audience than just the fighting game community, and we could probably spread the word to other gaming forums as well. I wonder if NeoGAF has a thread on this…

  • Brukpoket

    I’m not sure how quick the Canadian government will be to hop on that band wagon (and hopefully they’re smart enough not to) but assuming the bill doesn’t prosecute those who are watching (which I believe it doesn’t) wouldn’t it be possible and safe to send the stream through a Canadian site or will the act of simply recording it in the u.s. be enough to get called on?

    • AnarchoElk

      As a Canadian I would have said the same thing before this last election. due to the absurdity of the First Past the Post electoral system we use, despite only getting 39% of the vote (which is about 17% of Canadian IIRC) The Conservatives are in a Majority Government situation, and they are slimy disgusting subhumans, much like your Republican politicians. Which means anything that might help the rich and punish the poor has a good chance of happening here, especially if the US does it first.

      Canadians (and the future of American streaming as well I guess considering this bill’s popularity with senile old people(read:politicians)) depends on our Conservative Government not finding out about this, or if it does happen, being repealed in 4 years once people get a taste of Conservative Majority.

  • DietDrKelp

    This tournement season has been the best so far, and now this shit.

  • NickGuy0320


    • El_Maiz

      Because five minutes of your life is so important.

  • Osirun

    I would definitely like to be kept up to date on how this bill progresses through Congress. I will be writing my House and Senate representatives to discourage them from voting to pass this bill.

    • Wil

      I believe it already passed the House and is now at the front door of the Senate.

  • Ajtucker22

    Is there anything we as a community can do? That’s what I want to know. If there is someone, or numerous “someones” who we as a community can email to either make sure this bill gets passed, or amend this bill to be specific to the TV industry that actually WANTS this bill, then I would like to shoot them a few words.

    A few nice, well thought out and respectable words.

  • BeastLeHulk

    Mayne fuck.

  • The Ace of Knaves

    Well fuck, I thought this only applied to movies and television. This is the dumbest shit ever.

  • No_Cigar

    I would be willing to support a petition or something if someone got everything organized.

  • unkozuwari44

    Stage a sort of old-school picket style protest in DC and have a major tournament while your at it and attract as much people and media attention as possible. Get the media in there, show them what is going on and how no one is trying to take profits away from anyone else.

    The more media attention on how ridiculous this is, the better

    • unkozuwari44

      ^^^ How do I edit this?

      Advertise the protest at Evo too and strongly encourage everyone to email their reps

  • factory9

    “Those who would give up liberty for security deserves neither.”

    This quote will always hold true.

    • CannonSpike

      Never heard that quote before but it absolutely rings true.

      As a UK citizen the actions of the US government tend not to affect me too directly, however a bill being passed that drastically affects the internet community that I’m a part of highlights how far reaching these decisions can be.

      Surely videogame companies recognise the power of live streaming/youtube clips etc as a powerful marketing tool, and therefore would also be concerned at the potentially damaging nature these restrictions may have on sales and the lives of their franchises? Or would they rely on the distinction between “authorised/unauthorised” and continue to release their own official footage and hope that’s enough?

      For me a great deal of buzz has been generated for certain games when watching other people’s accomplishments when they proudly uploaded them to youtube.

  • xNotMyFuturex


  • sakabato24

    I would like to ask if I could re-post this on a few other websites (not under my username, of course) so we can spread this out a bit more than over just SRK. I’d think if we can get enough people’s attention to this debacle, we might get some progress done.

  • jaiwhite205

    This is insane. If this bill passes there will be riots in the streets.

  • PeterIvoryKing

    How hard would it be to get them to add a clause specifying the law only affect copyrighted material whose intended “consumption” (or the intended consumption of whatever medium the copyrighted material is being originally presented through, in this case, a game) is viewing?

    Video games are meant to be played, not watched. You don’t play the game through the stream, so it’s not using the copyrighted material in its intended way. Sounds reasonable to me.

    • CannonSpike

      Second that.

  • Dogysamich

    Now here’s my question:
    Say this law gets passed and it’s now illegal for us to upload and stream game footage, does that mean the whole youtube thing Capcom is talking about with 3s Online is now illegal for us to use? 😡

  • NuSix3

    I think you’re all worried about this a little bit too much. I’m no legal expert but the authorities won’t shut anyone down based of an assumption. The only way any authority would know that copyright is being violated is if Capcom or Namco or whoever else complained to them.

    Second, can’t the major distributors release a public license to stream their material? After all, it’s free advertising. Streams are hype and make people want to play the game.

    And finally, third, you guys need to understand that this law is not aimed at the fighting game community. We’re not the problem here and even if it were to pass, it’s unlikely that you would see a crackdown on fighting game streams.

    • logar247

      could some anti video game activist do this? instead of the actual commapny

    • AnarchoElk

      Yes, you AREN’T a legal expert. Ultra David, (the writer of this article.) IS a legal expert, so I think I’ll trust his word over yours. People like you are the reason the government is able to take away so much freedom.

  • nilcam

    DemandProgress.org is a group that really does good work in these dark times. They have a form letter you can use to contact the proper representatives: http://act.demandprogress.org/letter/ten_strikes?akid=700.450896.5hVZPC&rd=1&t=1

    I’ve participated in their activities before and love everything about them. Now is not the time to sit back and ask what to do. Now is the time for action!

  • weefunker

    There is bound to be a few members on here that have accounts of the other gaming forums, start telling people about this bullshit! There are hundreds of thousands of people who would be against this… shit even on the /v/ board of 4chan this would stir a lot of angry wasps… think I might go do that now actually

  • logar247

    wow this article has only been post about 5 hour agos and look at all the support david is getting

  • Majinhurricane

    haha america

  • Nando

    They are gonna charge us and then charge us fora code

    Fuckk… pretty soon we’re gonna have to by a fuckin pass to buy a video game…whack

  • Slayerslice

    Ridicilous, bit by bit govt is going to take away your ”freedom”

  • King Takes Pawn

    Seems like we might be well served in finding ways on how we might differentiate “performances” from each other. Add or remove arbitrary data from a stream to make it a “unique presentation” of a selected media for a specific user, and circumvent the 10 presentations clause.

    I don’t expect that we can stop this one from passing, but it may possible to make the actual results of the legislation so ponderous and expensive to enforce that the administration which initially supports the effort eventually dies in office before this has an impact. Hopefully the “new guard” is a little more technology savvy.

  • Mrsbonbon

    Just wrote my first letter to a congressman that was not in all caps

  • abandonist

    Nothing will happen to tournament streams because of this.

    I’m not for the law in any way, but don’t act like a bunch of girls on fire.

    The government’s not coming for your Street Fighters.

  • baritsu

    To anyone who is writing their representatives: please be intelligent and concise in your letter and make sure you understand what the bill means before you write anything down. Try to make it clear that you are not a complete moron in your writing so they don’t think the rest of the letters about the bill are irrelevant.

  • GunHammers

    i guess this mean oni is still banned


    Bad article title.

  • randomjohn

    If this gets passed, I don’t thinnk Capcom will care if people streams their games. We’re actually giving them free exposure to their fighting games and market the game for them to some extent. Capcom’s not complaining to LevelUp, Spooky, etc for streaming their famous fighting games now. I can’t see them start doing so IF the bill gets passed.
    For the record, these same useless lawmakers / politicians who created this stupid bill are the same useless politicians who aren’t creating jobs for our country.

    • PurpleLemonadeGGPO

      “Now, obviously some companies, including video game publishers like Capcom and Blizzard, tend to take a hands-off approach to the constant unauthorized streams and replays our scenes pump out. So why worry? Surely they wouldn’t send us to jail.
      But that’s only in a world where the performance right is merely a civil law provision, where the only ones who can bust infringers are copyright owners. Jamming the performance right into criminal law means that the government gets involved and gets to decide whether to bring charges on its own. Whereas for now video game publishers can (and usually do) let infringing live streams and replays slide, in the future the government might be able to bring criminal charges regardless of whether the copyright holder says to. In practice the government tends not to go after infringers unless notified by copyright holders, but if it wants to it can go after infringers anyway.”

  • Pasky

    I need the TL:DR version.

    • TheFobb

      tl;dr: gov’t bad. they want to control your mind.

      Just read it dude…

  • Thancruz

    This battle between government and video games is a never ending one. I hope fox news isn’t covering this.Might turn into another Mass Effect incident with reporters spouting nonsense at every turn.

  • gaemmk

    stupid bill is going to pass, and like the republicans and their big business moneyed overlords, the democrats have to pay back their moneyed overlords as well: hollywood.
    hollywood is foolish. shutting down the streamers, the oldies like tv links,simpsons episodes,peekvid, etc, won’t make people consume more new media or watch crappy, expensive movies. in fact, shutting down access to “free” content might actually depress interest in all types of media, and end up hurting their bottom line in the long run. hollywood should just create their own alternative to the streamers. they should offer films in theatres and online. the online version could be cheap and streamed, digitally watermarked, and it could have commercial intermissions. so for people who don’t want the commercials, they can watch the content in the theatre. they can pass a million laws, but they’ll never stop the beast, and ultimately they’ll just end up creating a more robust black market for real criminals.

    stay free hollywood and u.s. govt.

    but ultra david, won’t the devs just give permission to anyone streaming their game to add in like a little tag for spooky or you and ski to say like “this stream is officially licensed by capcom, or netherrealm, or namco, etc….the govt can’t prosecute you if you have permission to perform the work ,can they?

    oh yeah, stay free ufc. they’ve already gone after the streams, but a lot of people got into the ufc because of the illegal streams, and now that they’re gone no one gives a shit about the sport.

  • OvrZealous

    This just makes me sad inside…

  • PurpleLemonadeGGPO

    Ultradavid, your article is going to waste if most of SRK’s audience isn’t going to read it. You should have this posted on Justin.tv/Gametrailers.com or something, since that’s a much bigger audience that will be concerned about this.

  • Rose

    TL; DR:

    There is a bill that was passed in committee that disallows streaming without a license if you make a profit of atleast 2500 dollars in a half a year period. Right now, only the copyright owner (in Street Fighter’s case, Capcom), can run the copyright claim. If this bill passes, it allows the government to chase for the infringers and put them into jail for 5 years.

    I feel that it is a terrible idea that will impact many communities and would impact people as a whole because you’re taking something harmless away from them. It would instill unnecessary fear to a growing community that doesn’t affect the country in anyway negative.

    It just can’t be any good for our beloved growing fighting game community.

    It’s only been passed by a committee. If you don’t understand watch this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mEJL2Uuv-oQ. It’s been introduced to Congress; fun little 4 minute song that you probably watched in elementary.

  • Rose

    Great article by the way, David. I felt it was a bit simplified, but I doubt we care any further than this >.>

  • ManaSamaSRK

    Man, I really hope this doesn’t pass. If this affects anything involving major streaming events for EVO or even the smaller streams, it’s gonna be sad.

  • Dont Jump

    I’m probably the only person who will say this but I believe the law should be passed. The way content is viewed over the internet is a HUGE step that destroys social civilization, personal growth, and thinking. Now, in the fighting community we just go “lol thats what justin wong does. time to go learn that guys!” or “oh, he does that? Time to go do it” and its stupid. Games have less of a life span and no one is thinking anymore or learning on their own. We are spoon fed info by watching youtube videos. I miss the days where people actually had to think and figure out games and things on their own. I love streams and i think they are cool but im sure id be fine without watching EVERY tournament. Just think about how fucking spoiled we are. Any movie whenever we want? no problem. Any song? No problem. Any tournament stream? no problem. Any combo input? No problem. its all so easy and so stupid.

    • Azuro

      I hope this is a troll post…because you’re advocating being unable to watch matches simply for entertainment because you want things to be old-school. That just sounds retarded, no matter how you put it.

    • King Sky

      Only a person with a scary ass name like “Don’t Jump” would say something like this. First off learning from other people does not constitute a person not having the ability to think or learn for himself. Einstein would never have been able to come up with his theory of Relativity if it were not for the physicist that came before him; in fact there would be no “social civilization” , because civilizations are only formed by people working together, and learning from each other. The internet facilitates these things, and while it’s not perfect and it does pose it’s own set of problems, your waaaay of base here fam. I hope that your trolling, if so job well done.

  • Tokairu

    This is all part of Zangief’s plan to become top tier and spread communism across the globe, starting with the home of the most overusd character in existence, Ken Masters.

    Seriously though, this is some extreme bull**** if it gets passed, but what happened the last time a scare like this came up (read : ACTA)? We’ll be fine. Worst case scenario, everybody’ll use seven proxies before watching a stream, and all streams’ll take place in Fight Club.

  • jewdo

    Mr. Graham, perhaps you should consider testifying in front of congress? I don’t know the first thing about what that would require, but if you needed money and signatures, I’d be glad to contribute. This sort of thing is frightening, and anybody in our corner deserves our full support. There’s still time to slay this beast, I say we do it.

  • Spineraga

    What else can we do besides writing and calling our congressmen?

  • Nyawu

    I would not worry about the game companies or gov taking down video game streams… however, I worry about people pulling an RIAA to pop up “representing” the companies and demanding money from unsuspecting streamers/replay uploaders just because they clearly don’t have the cash to goto court over it.

  • voodazz

    I hate to say it, but I’m surprised this didn’t happen sooner.

  • GoddessBracelet

    Emailed my congressman and shared the link out to my fellow gamers and youtuber friends. This cannot pass.

  • pullarius1

    Great, well-thought out article.

  • pullarius1

    Can’t figure out how to edit my post so: “Whether this law passes or not, the gaming community still has to face the awkward fact that everything they do in a game is the intellectual property of the game’s makers. This was one of the central issues at the root of the Blizzard v Kespa conflict in Korea.

    And if a company figures out that they can monetize their games even more with little work by leveraging this fact, streaming is in for some dark days ahead.”

  • voltz

    I see the names “KLOBUCHAR”, “CORNYN”, and “COONS” listed on this bill. Does anyone have a way of displaying their full info, contact, etc so we can get after them and deal with this?

  • Syxx573

    the streamers who work off of ad revenue just have to get permission from capcom and namco and whoever else.. stop making this such a big deal. unless it was an excuse to fill time by writing a lengthy article.. i don’t really see a problem.

    • Buujie

      They are not going to give the permission away for free!

  • V-ismatic

    I do have one question from this article: How effectively would fair use law apply in defense against cases which would come about being prosecuted under the provisions of this bill? (My guess is not effectively since fair use has been established all under civil law.)

    Anyone more knowledgeable about the law in this area than me have any idea? Perhaps UltraDavid himself?

  • Wil

    Last thing I want to see is a tax being put on streamers all over the internet. All hell would break loose if that happens.

  • vagabond999


    Great article man, thanks for doing this stuff as well as your hype commentry.

    One question, I wonder if there’s any kind of legal loophole in this proposed bill? For instance, I’m in England. If a stream of a US major were ‘restreamed’ from here in the UK to the US, would that be a way around this bill?

    also I know it’s not stricly fighting game related, but I’d have liked to have had more of your take on the Youtube side of things, as from what I see, that is a real mess waiting to happen (essentially ALL of Youtube is copyright infringing), what will Youtube do?

    Good stuff.

  • MrValdez

    I’ve posted this article on reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/gaming/comments/id0nu/if_bill_s978_passes_you_could_be_jailed_for

    Hopefully, we can get more people aware of this issue.

    • V-ismatic

      It’s on “What’s Hot” right now. Hope it stays up there for the whole week.

  • lg 3V07UT10N

    Yeah If you sign up to Demand progress dot org you get all this info right away to your email check it out if ur interested. i already sent emails threw them to our reps. Good thing to add your own words with there premade para. They have been trying to pass alot of crazy stuff. This is one of the craziest. But its not the craziest. AN THIS IS NOT ABOUT TROLLING… SO please read Keits whole post damn it!!! This would affect some of what we come to Shoryuken for. exceuse my spelling i am hammered

  • Obv1ous

    Thanks David for bringing this to attention,
    Damn, if this bill goes through shit is going down, people getting jailed for Youtube videos and streams in the US.
    I think laws like this are stupid even if it wouldn’t affect gaming, it’s not like finding streams of movies and series is easy and I think the government shouldn’t mess with copyright stuff. Wow at those penalties, 5 YEARS OF JAIL for putting up copyright stuff 10 times?! Dangerous criminals I tell you.
    Please, US citizens do your best to oppose this law because I don’t want this shit to spread in any way.

  • Kageromaru Sho

    Good article. I took the actions suggested and I hope for the best. I had a good time while a participated in the scenes here in L.A. I would hate for them to go away forever. Also, since I plan to develop my own site that has streaming video as one of its services, I fear that this bill can threaten this plan if it is passed into law.

    For some odd reason, I can’t help but speculate that this bill was created simply to create jobs. Imagine, a new office developed simply to generate red tape for both stream producers and video game companies (amongst others). Good for the people who need jobs…extremely annoying, inconvenient, expensive and cumbersome for everyone the office was developed to cater to. Scary!

    • Kageromaru Sho

      BTW, I miss the ‘Edit’ button.

  • Diernes

    along with the copy-write laws for general internet use that have just been passed here, this is the icing on the cake, say goodbye to the golden age of the internet or do something about it.

    these government idiots obviously have no idea about the implications of this. the media companies have only sales ot lose…

  • Exalted-1

    Land of the free my ass

  • vagabond999

    Someone needs to find out if there is a loop hole for this.
    Supposing TeamSp00ky was doing his usual stream and streamed it to countries OUTSIDE the US. And then someone, say me, here in England RE-STREAMED it from ME to the US, could I be liable then?

    Because I wouldn’t be accountable to US law being that I’m in the UK. Or am I wrong?

    If there’s a loop hole like this, with a bit of craftiness the FGC may not need to worry about anything.

  • KiDIKoRuS

    This is a very touchy subject. First you have to understand what this bill specifically targets. Movies, illegal streaming of pay per view events, potentially live events, music and so forth. Pretty much anything that is not yours, hence the word copyright. Pretty much saying, there is going to be a more serve punishment for taking money out of corporations pockets.

    Now when a company sells something to you, that product becomes yours, i.e: stf4. You’ll be able to stream your product and what the product entails. Now that doesnt mean you have rights to the character ryu, abel or the coding to the game since thats “not” what they sold you.

    You guys are mixing up what the law is intended to do. Its like saying if I streamed a video of my Sony TV, Sony is going to sue me since they produced that specific TV.

    Its HIGHLY unlikely this bill would pass anyways since you can counter it being fit for “Cruelty and unusual punishment”. Namely going to jail and serving time for streaming a football game or a clip of it. But if it does, say goodbye to sites like youtube/justin.tv/nico and most free sites that let you broadcast whatever you want to the world for free with very little consequences for copyright infringement.

    • Kageromaru Sho

      Actually, that is not entirely true. As brought up in previous articles, there were debates as to if video games sold to consumers actually become their property. Unfortunately, this is not the case. What consumers are buying is an unlimited-use licence for the game. The game itself, such as its system, characters, voices, music, etc., remain property of their respective holders. This is why actions, such as copying, redistribution and reverse-engineering are all illegal.

      Looking at it this way, if you buy a game retail, its likely that only the box, book and disc are your property, not what’s on the disc itself.

  • Zombie4u

    Thanks for the heads up on this!

  • Carbon

    What I don’t like about this (in addition to the obvious) is that we are basically going back to the stone age where there was no communication and ways of improving off of online information/videos.

  • GuruofGreatness

    It’s really about limiting or destroying the power of people like spooky ,levelup, and others that saw potential not only in fgc but other games also, with lobbying money until the old guard gets to decide how to approach this new development in streaming . The best thing to do is send a e-mail,letter,phone your local representative thats what they get paid for. Post a youtube vid get the word out and do not just do one of these things do it all. Show them that you are not going to let your passion be undermined because some suits can not figure out how to monopolize it yet.Power to the people!!Also please tell them to put our money back on a gold standard so it is actually worth something and the fed cant inflate(cheapen) our money every time it wants.Later on we can talk about the evils of central banking but you know one step at a time.

  • GuruofGreatness

    And I am mad because the language of this bill can be intrepreted to imply more than just PPV, live events and the like.

  • boogityboy

    Agreed the title of this needs to be changed, I almost skipped it completely.

  • ExplodingCabbage

    This is total bullocks. You can read why in detail here:

    but here’s the short version.

    That new offence is:
    To wilfully breach copyright by performing a work being prepared for commercial distribution, by making it available on a computer network available to members of the public, when you knew, or should have known, that the work you were performing was intended for commercial distribution.

    What’s more, § 506 goes on to clarify ‘being prepared for commercial distribution’ in Paragraph 3, and make clear that this only applies to works of which copies have not yet been distributed commercially, and which the copyright owner reasonably expects to begin distributing commercially in the future.

    In other words:

    Even IF streaming a gameplay video is considered by law to be ‘publicly performing’ the game, which is unclear, doing so would only be an offence under the amendments in bill S 978 RS if the game you were streaming videos of was a game that had NOT YET BEEN RELEASED, and which the copyright owners intended to sell commercially, and you didn’t have permission from them to stream videos of their pre-release game.

    Let’s just repeat that so we’re clear what we’re all panicking about:

    This is a law that might, if the term ‘performance’ is interpreted particularly broadly, criminalise the unauthorised posting of videos of PRE-RELEASE games. It would also make it a crime to leak copies of games onto the internet before they are released. That is the entire extent of its impact of gaming.

    How is this going to destroy the gaming community, again?

    • boogityboy

      Okay so even by that definition, this website would already have members in jail for having posted many videos of upcoming games, such as this very thread right here: http://shoryuken.com/2011/06/29/skullgirls-gameplay-from-revelations-and-ect3/ showing off some skullgirls matches from the game which is being developed for commercial distribution and has not yet been released. Or how about every video posted on this site of street fighter X tekken and all the stream footage we’ve seen of that from recent tournaments.

      What you are clarifying still puts this community in some trouble.

      • ExplodingCabbage

        You’re right of course that there are many cases in which people will have access to beta copies of prelease games and stream or upload videos of them. I didn’t really consider this when I wrote my previous post.

        I still don’t think there is MUCH cause for alarm, for several reasons:

        1) Despite what is suggested in the article, I highly doubt that streaming a video of a game would be considered to be a ‘public performance’ of the game. I think most people, including lawyers and judges, would agree that a game isn’t something you can ‘perform’, and that the provision in the law about ‘performances’ is supposed to apply both to live music and theatre and to one-time showings of prerecorded media like films, TV shows and studio-recorded music being streamed without a download option, but NOT to videos of one person’s experience of an interactive medium like a game.

        I agree there is some potential to interpret a video of a game as a performance of the game, which is a little worrying, but I think for a court to choose such a perverse interpretation of the law would be unlikely.

        2) Even if the definition of a performance DOES cover a video of someone playing a game, remember that under the terms of this bill you still need to be breaching copyright in order for a crime to be committed. You can’t be breaching copyright if you have permission from the copyright holder. Permission doesn’t have to be some kind of formal license or written contract; you just need to be able to convince a court that the copyright holder, or an agent thereof, gave you permission.

        That means all it would take to ensure that streaming videos of any given pre-release game would be legal is for one person to ask an employee of the copyright-holding company on behalf of all players for permission to stream videos of their game, be granted that permission, and then quote them on the internet for all other streamers to see. This is a mild nuisance but most games companies communicate at least a bit with their fans and I expect you would always be able to get this kind of blanket permission from them.

        3) I don’t know much about the system for initiating prosecutions in the United States, but presumably somebody would need to have your unauthorised streams brought to their attention and then make a decision to prosecute in order for anyone to get into any kind of trouble over this. I’m pretty sure your prosecutors have discretion and would not choose to prosecute a case of video game streaming where there is clearly no harm done, no loss incurred for the copyright holder and no public interest to be served by prosecution.

        4) In the unlikely event that charges were brought against somebody for unauthorised streaming of video of a prerelease game, it would be big news. The gaming media would be talking about it, and the developers and publishers of the game in question would know about it. It would be terrible publicity for them to let the prosecution go ahead, and earn them the immediate and enduring hatred of many gamers, and equally they would sense the opportunity for a PR victory by coming to the defence of the streamer. So I would expect the games companies in such a case to speak out publicly and loudly in defence of the charged streamer in such a case. I highly doubt that any prosecutor would choose to continue to press charges in a copyright infringement case where the copyright holders were openly opposed to such charges being brought, or that any court would decline to throw out such charges at the first opportunity.

        So in conclusion: you’re right that things aren’t quite as clear-cut when it comes to videos of pre-release games, but there’s almost certainly still nothing to worry about even in that case, and if you’re really paranoid you can just ask the game developers to give you permission to stream videos of the game, and you’ll be fine.

        • Reticently

          Copy-pasted from myself from below just in-case you miss it (I’d like to hear your interpretation).

          As I read it, it seems to me that most major streaming is ALREADY a technical infraction of 506(a)(1)(A) and possibly 506(a)(1)(B), but there isn’t a penalty defined under Section 2319 of Title 18 for the WAY that streams cause infractions, so as stands at the moment they are off the hook.

          What this new bill does under Section 1(a)(1) is define a penalty for the way that streams are already infringing. It does this by adding a specific penalty for “public performance” to Section 2319 of Title 18.

          Then again, I’m not a lawyer.

          • ExplodingCabbage

            You suggest an interesting possibility here that I hadn’t considered, but after rereading the relevant stuff I’m fairly sure it isn’t the case that a penalty has been introduced for offences that previously had none. Indeed I am fairly sure that all possible breaches of S506 already have some associated penalty assigned to them in S2319.

            I have given a more detailed reply below.

    • Kobayashi
  • UPRC

    Whew, glad I’m Canadian.

    Still, this could potentially lead to policing the internet a little too far. I can’t imagine that you guys would ever be at risk of going to jail just for uploading Street Fighter replays or whatever. I think that kind of mindset is perhaps taking things too literally and expecting this new potential law to have more of an effect on gamers than it really would in reality.

  • djbishop

    And so dawns the day where the Ministry of Truth is borne unto the people.

  • DaddyOtaku

    So pretty much, we can stream but can’t make profit out of it. Right?

  • DaddyOtaku

    So we pretty much can still stream but can’t make a profit out of it, right?

  • King Sky

    “While the bill’s sponsors might not have known how wide-ranging its effect could be at first, they’ve been confronted with that since the text was released and they show no signs of pulling it back.”

    C’mon Ultradavid, I know you probably put it like that, because you were trying to avoid murder-cussing (LoL) these assholes, but I cannot imagine they didn’t know what they were doing. To be honest the internet is a thorn in the side to the status quo, and while it makes a lot of money for some of these very same media companies, it also makes a lot change they are unable to cope with.

    The change is to fast, and too consistent for them to keep up with. The shit they want to put up on the nightly news or tomorrows paper, is on Youtube before 3pm; you could go back and watch that show you missed loooong before Tivo or Hulu were ever invented for you to do so legally; and communities like ours that they have ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with, are streaming events that draw in almost 20k viewers on the regular. Dudes and Dudettes, were fucking dangerous to the status quo, straight up, period, end of discussion.

    Therefore,killing the internet is good thing for everybody who was involved in in everything that was around, before the internet came along and started changing shit up. To be honest we were naive to think it would never come to this, our scene was bound to get noticed eventually, and if were not willing to be absorbed into the existing body of media tyranny, then you must be destroyed. However, the good news is that nobody can stop change, so I’m not worried about our scene or the Internet, because we will find away to be heard.

    P.S. Thanks to SRK, and Ultradavid for bringing this to our attention, since the nightly news hasn’t, and or won’t. Irony.

  • dren

    Criminal penalties seem an incredibly severe consequence for copyright violation. Copyright should stay a civil matter.

  • King9999

    Just come to Canada already.

  • Sideshow20

    I just sent ultradavid message to my representative

    “think a good chunk of what this is about is just the old guard not understanding what’s happening nowadays. Technology like free, instant, and relatively simple mass streaming or uploading by anyone to infinite viewers all over the world is just… really new. And I think the entertainment industry has no idea how to approach that, so instead of taking advantage of it themselves, they’d rather make sure everyone else has a hard time coming in instead.

    Companies like Capcom are starting to understand how streaming or casting tournaments and match footage can be really positive for them, but they don’t know how to do it themselves, so they let us do it instead. But traditional film and television companies, who are the real drivers behind this bill, have even less of a clue. It seems natural to us that if we can watch a show on live TV we should be able to watch it live on our computers too, but that’s barely even on the radar for TV companies. The vacuum left between how we want to watch shows and how the content publishers want to give them to us has been taken up by streamers, and that makes the streamers money and the copyright owners mad.”

  • Vidness

    Well, you could always keep one stream open for 180 days, just change what it’s displaying. 🙂

  • Zekey

    Dang that’s messed up. I hope it doesn’t pass

  • MuayGio

    Can anyone confirm what Exploding Cabbage is saying? That would obviate most of this debate, and put a lot of fears to rest.

    Otherwise, I think Goatbot hit the nail on the head. The crucial difference between video games and runtime media is that the value of a video game lies in being able to play it, not being able to watch it.

    That means that the whole basis of the copyright argument doesn’t apply in the same way to games as it does to films and TV. When you watch someone play a game, you’re not making yourself less likely to purchase the game, and therefore depriving the publisher of sales. If anything, it’s an open advertisement for the game.

    I’m sure this doesn’t need to be said, but I hated MvC3 when it first came out, but after seeing some of the sick shit you can do in it, and the community that was rallying around it, I seriously considered buying it.

    • ExplodingCabbage

      I’d suggest you just read the bill and the statutes it refers to, and check my interpretation for yourself. Reading and understanding most law is surprisingly easy for any literate and moderately intelligent person; it’s written with precision and clarity in mind. You occassionally need to follow a reference to see how a particular term is defined, and often there’ll be lists of possible ways to commit an offence and you need to keep track of whether there is an ‘and’ at the end of each line (i.e. you need to tick all these boxes to commit an offence) or an ‘or’ (i.e. tick any one box and you’re a criminal), but other than that it’s written in plain English and easy to understand.

      • Reticently

        As I read it, it seems to me that most major streaming is ALREADY a technical infraction of 506(a)(1)(A) and possibly 506(a)(1)(B), but there isn’t a penalty defined under Section 2319 of Title 18 for the WAY that streams cause infractions, so as stands at the moment they are off the hook.

        What this new bill does under Section 1(a)(1) is define a penalty for the way that streams are already infringing. It does this by adding a specific penalty for “public performance” to Section 2319 of Title 18.

        Then again, I’m not a lawyer.

        • ExplodingCabbage

          Hmm. Honestly I just didn’t really bother looking at the changes to S2319 much after I realised they only affected sentencing. I hadn’t considered the possibility you suggest here – that an existing offence for which no penalty is currently defined might have had a penalty introduced, which is in many ways effectively the same thing as creating a new offence.

          After a careful rereading of the relevant part of S2319, though, I don’t think that this is the case. If you’re right, and streaming for profit is already an infraction of 506(a)(1)(A), (which it might or might not be, depending upon whether unauthorised videos of games are considered to be breaches of copyright at all), then a penalty IS already defined in the current S2319(b)(3), which provides a penalty for any breach of S506(a)(1)(A) that isn’t specifically covered by S2319(b)(1) or S2319(b)(2).

          The new subparagraph proposed in S978(a)(1)(b) would of course increase the maximum penalty for the infractions it covers from 1 year’s imprisonment to 5 years. But if streaming gaming videos is already a crime under S506(a)(1)(A), then the 1 year penalty specified in S2319(b)(3) can already be imposed.

          I’m sure that streaming or uploading gaming videos would not be an infraction of S506(a)(1)(B) since interpreting such an action as ‘the reproduction or distribution… of… copies of… [the game]’ would require an incredibly perverse definition of either ‘reproduction’, ‘distribution’ or ‘copies’. But even if it somehow is an infraction, then once again there are penalties already in place, namely in S2319(c)(3).

          As a disclaimer: I am also not a lawyer. I’m pretty confident about this, though.

          • Reticently

            Regarding S2319(b)(3) specifically, somehow I unintentionally skipped over that on my first read through. Good catch.

            I don’t particularly think a perverse interpretation is required for S506(a)(1)(B) to apply assuming the stream itself constitutes infringing material. Copies of the stream are literally created on viewers’ machines as temp files. These can of course be saved as permanent copies with the barest modicum of technical savvy.

            So the question then is: does streaming a video game constitute a public performance? I have no idea. It is my understanding that if you have copyright on the script for a play, for example, and I publicly perform that play for profit without permission I have violated your copyright. Would a video game be similar?

  • araider08

    …Er, how does this effect international uploaders and streamers? I’m sure that many many streaming sights are in fact of foreign reign. That seems like a loophole to me… And quite the crushing one too.

  • Macc

    I don’t think people need to be worried about Capcom, NRS, Namco, Arksys, etc taking down these streams any time soon if this bill passes since the FGC and streaming have acted as free advertisement for their products and brands. There are two things that should make people worry if this bill passes tho:
    First, since this will give copyright owners more power over those who stream their content it can limit the amount of freedom the streamers & commentators have with the content they are streaming. For example, if Capcom doesn’t like how some commentators bash SF4 on streams they could threaten legal action in order to protect the image of their IP. This can lead to the end of the ‘colorful’ commentary that defines FGC streams or people just not streaming a certain game at all out of fear of legal action.
    Second, like UltraDavid stated even if the copyright holder doesn’t care about you streaming their content, the goverment can still take action against you with out the copyright holders consent. This could be used as a loop hole or opening to pursue other legal action against people. For example, if the police suspect you of a crime, but don’t have enough evidence for a warrant, but then see that you post up a regular MvC3 stream they could use this to procure a warrant to search your property.

  • Strider2k2

    Thank you UltraDavid for bringing this to our attention! I have filled out a letter using that Demand Progress link. I urge everyone to do the same if you enjoy watching streams or heck YouTube. Here is the link in case you are too lazy to goto the end of the article: http://act.demandprogress.org/letter/ten_strikes?akid=700.450896.5hVZPC&rd=1&t=1

  • Anil

    The community that was rallying around it, I seriously considered buying it.


  • Fermbiz

    Im so against this and crap like this pisses me off. In reality, watching tournaments or anything streamed is really my television.

    I dropped cable television 2 years ago. Everyone thinks im crazy but Im tired of paying for commercials and cable TV is just too damn expensive for something I watch a couple hours a week.

    I have MY PC hooked up to my main TV in the living room. I got my streams, Adultswim.com. South Park.com, and Youtube.com and Netflix.

    Streaming games brought us gamers together, especially fighting games. What do I need to do to fight this??

  • Fieasco

    Well the option to upload to YouTube directly from 3S:O just got a lot shittier, if this craptastic bill passes.

  • craze

    man… this so blows come to canada its not illiegal yet lol

  • Zelkin Talbain

    I have mixed feelings about this. I don’t want this bill to pass because I love fighting video game tournaments especially since I’m unable to make it to EVO. I love the ability to watch it from my own home. But, on the other hand I’m kind of for it because it stops lazy gamers or people who pretend they love video games from cheating companies out of their money by watching these so called video game movies on YouTube! I mean seriously, if you want to know what goes on in a game you like then pick it up and play it for crying out loud, not let someone else do the work for you. 🙁

  • araider08

    Like MLK once said: I’m going to Canada.

  • Ma Junior.

    I don’t think the Govt is that stupid to jail a bunch of us nerds and gamers for watching games online.
    Either A. This bill will have to be reworded drastically for it to pass (especially if it reads more specifically targeting movies being streamed and/or downloaded that are copyrighted by studios and production agencies ,aswell as copyrighted software being uploaded or downloaded per internet session . or B. If it stays the same its going to not pass.
    1. The Govt will lose more money incarcerating people for watching Youtube, Shoryuken, Combovideos, etc etc. Than it is actually saving companies like Capcom,Blizzard, or whoever money by stopping these actions all together. Plus Sales will start to dwindle to the lose of interest all together for the games since recongintion ,advertisement and hype for the gaming scene will cease permanently .And
    2. Its going to be extremely hard to track people streaming or uploading these videos especially if they’re doing this through the means of public access terminals. Using random email accounts and other sign means. Aswell as the gathering of funds and resources to even go through the lack of tracking the individuals down that are doing this.

    Overall, who ever designed this bill, will actually be hurting the economy further than it already is than actually trying to stablize it as a democracy so it doesn’t sink even further in to a socialist state. Oh wait thats what they’re probably going for all together,since republicans are in control of the Senate right now. But anyways creame rises to the top and personally I don’t see this bill coming to light at all. Even some
    Republicans and Communists love video games and watching videos of Daigo Vs. Jwong on youtube duke it out in 3rd strike or whatever, and for the record I’m not putting Republicans and Communists in the same boat whatsoever . I’m just stating facts.


    Looks like DSP will be homeless if this passes.

  • Immaculate

    I wrote a letter on the demand site and wrote a letter to my local rep. I don’t want this bill passed but I did all I could do for now.

  • MakotoKilla

    Man this is wicked. Not a whole lot of people probably remember but cable TV used to be free when it first came out. Now we all pay out the wazoo for TV. Having such a massive reserve of information aka the internet won’t be free for ever. Maybe this could be the catalyst. I am in big time opposition of this bill.

  • LBC

    I already the little I could do, now we need more SRK brethren to join the cause.

  • liana-c


    I think there should at least be a form that publishers can sign to say, ‘yes you are authorized to use our works’ etc, especially regarding major tournaments like EVO for example (already sponsored by major companies)

    Maybe even a licensing system that could protect online gaming communities from prosecution.


  • Mexican Extasy

    pass http://act.demandprogress.org/sign/ten_strikes/?source=fb everywhere, facebook, twitter, reddit wherever. This not only hurts gamers but everyone else

  • Cool3stNERD

    I need to “+1” this. 🙂

  • TheFobb

    Would sp00ky be allowed to stream jailhouse fights?

  • xS A M U R A Ix

    Stuff like this is atrocious and it’s just one more step in removing our personal freedoms. I can understanding wanting to limit people illegally distributing music and movies but those types of people will always find more ways to get their pirated media distributed, either through torrents, or other undeveloped technology. All this stands to do is hurt our community and put innocent people in huge financial trouble or jail.

    Just disgusting, really.

  • MuayGio

    @TheFobb: LOL at the idea of spooky commentating inmates shanking each other. 🙂 I know I shouldn’t find it so funny.

  • bbq sauce

    “Would I trade the viability of my community for some dollars? EAD.”

    I respect this so much. And on topic, fuck government

  • Genistar

    There are better things the government should be doing to help the country rather than target things like this. All they will be doing is hurting the companies and the consumers.

  • Timothy Bishop

    So what, now Parker Bros. is going to come after all the people who post videos of themselves playing Monopoly? Haha, that’s a laugh. No one’s actually getting the game for free as a result of it, because clearly they can’t PLAY the game via a stream. That is why we buy video games, right? To play them? Last time I checked.

    • justejacknola

      I don’t know brother. If you think back a few months ago, Capcom claimed that the mere streaming of Super Street Fighter 4: AE’s audio-visual portions was a violation of Capcom’s copyright interest. This was during Capcom’s attempt to keep Oni and Evil Ryu secret until the character’s time locks had expired on arcade machines.

      Capcom has already made the claim that their intellectual property in the game goes much deeper than just the software code, but to the audio-visuals themselves. Capcom itself has claimed that unauthorized reproduction of a game’s audio-visual portion violates its copyright interest.

      I think it’s silly to though: I don’t think that anyone is watching the stream as a replacement for playing the game. But the gamemaker itself has given fuel to this fire.

  • chuchoyei

    How would this affect international streams¿

  • boogityboy

    All these game companies who support the streaming of their games needs to do is add a few more lines to their EULA giving license to do so right there. End of concern.


    #1 fucking ignorant

  • Mr.Chang

    This..should never EVER pass. That is all.

  • Kanped

    They may not actually go after people but allow me to be alarmist and speculative for a moment. A large part of the American economy is supported by prison labour; it’s much cheaper and easier than sweat shops. Overly heavy handed law-making and government prosecution, particularly in relation to drugs but also in other areas has increased the adult male prison population in America to extreme proportions. Over 1% of the adlut male population of America is in prison, and they manufacture saleable, exportable goods at otherwise impossibly low prices and the government collects on this. They need to do this to avoid unpopular tax hikes and that need is getting greater all the time. They have unjustly prosecuted countless people, even provably innocent people, and continue to do so. If I am right in thinking that this is in fact a scheme designed to increase the prison workforce; i.e., an exercise in profiteering, this bill will give the government a much larger supply of potential workers. I hope that’s just food for thought.

  • Armdevil

    American government fuckin with freedom again 🙂 hypocrits of the political world unite!

  • Wu Fei

    Please….Capcom itself is integrating youtube into replays so people can upload vids their “performance.”

    its not gonna pass. the chump change made from ads on the average streamer/youtuber are miniscule/negligent. companies wouldnt vouch for axing the most effect means of advertising and marketing. Basically the bill is asking people to advertise lol.

  • Konzaquence

    So if the law passes, then that’s basically the end of LPing on Youtube. Did they ever think that by people playing and uploading videos on Youtube, they are actually ENCOURAGING potential buyers to purchase their product? I bought DBZ Budokai Tenkaichi 3 after seeing a couple of uploaded matches on youtube.

  • ShinkuGadoken

    Hey, I made a Facebook Group for people who want this thing to die.


  • deadfrog

    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    EaD or EAD may be:

    Elite Athlete with a Disability, in athletics
    Employment Authorization Document, in U.S. employment
    Encoded Archival Description, a standard for encoding archival finding aids
    Equivalent air depth, in diving with nitrox
    EAD-socket (German: Ethernet-Anschlussdose), a wall socket for Ethernet connections
    European AIS Database, in European aviation
    Exposure at default (EAD), in finance (Basel II)
    Station code for Earlsfield railway station in London
    Extreme Anxiety Disorder, an intensified version of Anxiety Disorder

    EAD may also be:

    Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development, in computer gaming
    Escola de Arte Dramática de São Paulo, the drama school of University of São Paulo.
    Emergency Airworthiness Directive, a directive issued when an unsafe condition exists that requires immediate action by an aircraft owner or operator.
    Eat A Dick, an insult.

  • BarSoap

    Okay so if I made a “public performance using electronics” of me just dancing, and I’m wearing a GAP T-Shirt, will I get sued for showing a Copyrighted Product such as the shirt?

    I mean come on wtf, we paid money for the product and now the gov’t controls what we can and cannot do with it? It’s not even pirating!

  • Ultrabison

    Ok not gona read all 200+ replies but how does this affect people outside of the use i guess we still ok to stream and post vids as much as we want right??? If so i feel really sorry for you US guys pretty shitty of your government but then it aint the worst thing its done.

  • Ultrabison

    Ok obviously i ment US not use :p

  • Loghorn

    This is incredibly stupid. This country is already in huge trouble with real important issues such as this bad economy with lots of unemployment (Especially in California), & with money issues (the U.S. owes about $67 trillion to China for pete’s sake!), & all they can think about is sabotaging our entertainments.

    This country has certainly gone to hell in a handbasket for sure.

  • PropLeXed

    Even the thought of being jailed for streaming is retarded as shit, this better not pass. Once again a godlike write up from UltraDavid. Love the troll pics.

  • Sunstone1

    Think about it, if this bill passes, what effect will it have on games like Street Fighter 3 3RD Strike online with the youtube upload feature. Heck of a lot of players are going to jail for that oh sh&* look what I pulled of quick upload. Will this effect the feature being implemented in future games?

  • SurfKahuna

    I hope we can all see how important this issue is… It may be time to get some emails going for support.

    David or anyone else> Do we know where we should send our (adult, responsible, well thought out) thoughts and/or comments concerning our newfound plight?

  • SurfKahuna
  • Tomahawk

    So lets see. We shoudl contact our state congressman and the members of the senate. Sign petitions. Anything else that we can do?

  • Sex Instructor

    How can I get that cool face on my Credit Card?

  • Lestatx

    Wow, US sucks. Luckily I dont live there and will still be ale to upload anything I want 🙂

  • Mark8264

    Oh my god, these copyright laws are getting ridiculous. Can you imagine, sitting next to a rapist in jail and him asking you “What are you in for” and your answer is “I was streaming starcraft while listening to some tunes, and now I’m in for 5 years”.

    I mean, you get less for robbing a fucking bank with an armed weapon. What the hell?

  • W3nch

    A revised/snipped copy & paste-able letter version of this should be made available on the front page. It’d give most of the people here a means to send a letter of concern to their elected representative. I’m not as gifted/confident in my vocabulary to drum something up though, D:

  • Ultrabison

    @Mark8264 Aint the minimum sentance for armed robbery 5 years dont be so melodramatic dude :p also they aint going to put anyone who got jailed for this (not that anyone will) in with a rapist lol

  • TheCanadianProject

    ok i am a Machinima Respawn Director is this bill going to affect us because we play these games or will we be safe because Machinima already is allowed us to post are gaming videos for them and there on youtube ?

    • HASJ

      AFAIUnderstand, is Machinima the owner of the games’ copyrights? Don’t think so, then you’d have to ask permission from the actual IP owners.

      • TheCanadianProject

        ahh ok but even though Activison Infinity Ward and all the others let us(Machinima Respwan) and Machinima Relam post this videos

        • TheCanadianProject


  • kokocipher

    There goes the economy

  • HASJ


  • Chilly8

    So, if this law passes, you can use a VPN to hide your activities. There are VPNs out there that will give you total privacy, and keep no logs, so that you cannot be traced.

  • THK

    Can’t companies give consent if they want to?

  • KillerXtreme

    These are the same people that you know.. Want to throttle the internet so you have to pay extra for sites that aren’t prioritized.. Their next bill will stop all online gaming and make the internet boring..

  • ugo_2u

    Damn man, so what if you are outside the USA? can you still stream?

  • d3f1anc3

    Streaming is a paramount and vital part of this community @ this point. If it were to become an illegal practice I for one wouldn’t be a part of it anymore; and many more people would follow. I don’t have the means to travel to tournament so this is pretty much my one primary means of participating and enjoying TL play.

  • Hey, will this also effect the UK as well ! ? !

    • peter

      I would like to know as well if the united kingdom will ever be effected?

  • Süper Barbi

    Önceden ev hanımları birbirlerine yemek tarifleri verir, kişiden kişiye aktarılırdı eskimiş kağıtların arkasında bu tarifler. Son 10 yılda gelişen internet sektörü her alanda olduğu gibi pratik yemek tarifleri in yayılmasında da bize yarar sağlamaktadır. İnternetten yağacağınız küçük bir araştırmayla en nefis yemek tarifleri bulabileceğiniz bir çok web sitesi mevcuttur. Yemek yapmak bir çoğumuza sıkıcı gelir. Aslında çok eğlenceli bir iştir, .

  • Jeremy Kuehnau

    Actually I don’t really have a problem with this. I don’t upload content to YouTube unless it’s my own.

    Personally I hate “Let’s Play Videos” and I can understand why any company that had their IP trampled all over would want to limit what you can and cannot do with their content.

    Let it pass, I don’t care.

  • It was a bot, Im sure. Why else use the quote? http://eugenehybridtaxis.com