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Senate Bill Could Make It Illegal To Upload Lip-Synced Videos 239

Posted by samzenpus
from the numa-numa-no-more dept.
An anonymous reader writes "According to Copyright lawyer Ben Sidbury, Senate bill 978 could make it a criminal act for someone to lip sync to a song and post the said video on Youtube, even if credits are given. 'The way the statute is written... It would now criminalize anybody that performs a copyrighted work, which is essentially nowadays any song under the sun. In theory at least, the record companies or the Department of Justice could go after a 9-year old or a 12 year old or a 30 year old for publicly performing a song.' said Sidbury."
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Senate Bill Could Make It Illegal To Upload Lip-Synced Videos

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  • sigh... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wired57 (1901846) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @03:26PM (#36454098)
    Whatever happened to fair use? I mean really come on now, how does this help protect anything?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by flibuste (523578)
      It helps your government avoiding YOU spreading culture around, thus keeping people dumb and low so they can control them more easily. And keep their election campaign funds topped off with bribes from the RIAA and other "Copyright holders"?
      I mean, a 12 year old girl singing the latest Lady Gaga song on her piano is very harmful to major companies, and could make you smile. Last thing your government want is you to be happy without them ordering you to be.
      Or am I too much in conspiracy theories lately?
      • Playing the song and singing on a piano? No. Lip syncing to a copyrighted recording? Yes.
        • Lip syncing to a copyrighted recording is very harmful to major companies? Are you on drugs? I mean, like, right now?
    • by langelgjm (860756) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @04:08PM (#36454658) Journal

      This is already illegal under copyright law. From what I gather from the article, the "news" is that the bill seeks to criminalize unlicensed public performance of a copyrighted work. The summary is totally misleading. Also, giving "credit" in a YouTube video is irrelevant to whether it's licensed or not. Actually I'm surprised more of these aren't scooped up by YouTube's content filtering system right now.

      As for fair use, it'd be a tough case to make, but I guess in theory you could argue that... tough because you typically use the whole song, but that's mitigated by the fact that it's non-commercial use, and hardly a replacement - people don't listen to YouTube lip-syncs instead of the original...

      I think criminalization of unauthorized public performance is probably a bad idea in general, even if not applied to lip-syncing kids... but don't let the summary fool you, this isn't suddenly making things that are currently legal illegal.

      • 0. Be n == 0 (MOD 365.25) days old.
        1. Go to restaurant to celebrate.
        2. Begin to sing: "Happy Birthday To You... Happy --"
        3. Get sued for public performance of Warner Bros. copyrighted song: "Happy Birthday"
        4. Realize why all restaurants sing a different crappy song for birthday parties...

        Seriously -- If an artist wants to be so flipping famous that everyone is singing their songs, or quoting their books, then their work now belongs to everyone.

        To such artists: Mission Accomplished, you have added a

    • Whatever happened to fair use? I mean really come on now, how does this help protect anything?

      Maybe the senators got tired of searching for the music video they were looking for, then getting some american idol reject singing into a webcam that they're sitting too close to. Because I've been annoyed by that before. I wouldn't want to -legislate- that away, and whenever record companies win, we lose, but we don't appear to be losing that much with this.

      Hmm... along those same lines, the frat house across the street playing shitty music so loud that I can hear it at 2 am from across the street

    • Re:sigh... (Score:5, Informative)

      by blair1q (305137) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @04:13PM (#36454702) Journal

      Lip-syncing is fair use?

      Lip-syncing is using the exact recording someone else made, over a picture of you making no sound and maybe dancing funny with your pets.

      Fair use would be excerpting a line or two of the original recording, or singing a verse or two as part of a larger work, or parodying it with different lyrics or music, although there are exceptions to this for things like using sound clips in movies or sampling in records where there's huge money involved, or where it's clear you're leveraging the work for profit without adding much to it yourself.

      I don't think that playing most or all of someone else's recording as the primary basis for your work is fair use. You can't change something slightly and call it "derivative," either. You can't even steal the hook accidentally and claim it's not someone else's property. Just ask George Harrison. No, he isn't; Beatles never really die.

    • I don't see how posting a video where you're lip syncing your face to the song is any different from just posting a copy of the song on YouTube. Seems like the LipSync clause is redundant since the lip syncing implies you're also copying the music.

    • Digital Technology has blurred fair use.

      The problem with digital is that you can duplicate your effort with near identical quality and mass produce it very cheaply.

      Fair Use, is usually sharing information with a few people privately, aka watching a movie together. Or having a lip syncing contest with your friends. But what happens now is that with YouTube your private activity is now shared with thousands or millions of people.

      Now the problem with copyright law isn't the action but the degree of punishmen

  • Thank you Senate (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PickyH3D (680158) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @03:26PM (#36454104)

    For really going after what is a problem in our country.

    Not the job market.
    Not the national debt.
    Not the continued housing crisis.
    Not any of the three wars we are actively participating in (Libya, Iraq (yes, still), and Afghanistan).
    Not healthcare.
    Not the tax system.

    Nope, it's little kids or adults showing their support for artists by lip syncing. We really have to protect those artists from such stealing! Those poor, underpaid artists (and their leeches that lobby for them, AKA the RIAA).

    • by ryants (310088)
      Not any of the three wars we are actively participating in (Libya, Iraq (yes, still), and Afghanistan).

      You forgot Yemen.

      (Read the above in Bush's voice)

      • Not any of the three wars we are actively participating in (Libya, Iraq (yes, still), and Afghanistan).
        You forgot Yemen.
        (Read the above in Bush's voice)

        Ya fergot Bosnia, Y'all always ferget Bosnia.
        (Read the above in Clinton's voice)

    • by drpimp (900837)
      Mod Parent Up * 1000000
    • by istartedi (132515) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @04:09PM (#36454668) Journal

      You think the senators actually do this? No way. The lobbyists write the bills for them. You can't leave jobs like that up to politicians. It's too important. You draft the bill, you send it to your lackey... errr... senator's office, with a cover letter extolling the virtues of it. Then your l...senator's staff "reviews this recommended legislation" which means they putz around on their FaceBook pages for a while with the PDF open in the background so they can punch it up in case anybody walks by. Then it gets voted on. That's how it works.

      • by PickyH3D (680158)

        I don't believe that most Senators are smart enough to use Facebook. The rest, I do.

        And there's something seriously unnerving about that.

        • by Dahamma (304068)

          Facebook? I think it's been pretty clearly proven last week that they aren't even smart enough to use Twitter...

      • Considering that there have been senators who've said in interviews that they ('they' meaning all senators / congressmen) don't read 90% of the stuff they vote on, that's pretty accurate.
    • by blair1q (305137)

      It does no good to tar the entire government with that accusation.

      Single out the cosponsors of this bill when you do that.

      And point out the ones who voted against it.

      • by spongman (182339)

        (from http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s112-978 [govtrack.us])

        sponsor:
        Sen. Amy Klobuchar [D-MN]

        co-sponsors:
        Chris Coons [D-DE]
        John Cornyn [R-TX]

        Supporters:
        Newspaper Association of America
        National Association of Broadcasters
        Motion Picture Association of America
        American Intellectual Property Law Association
        AT&T
        Business Software Alliance
        Association of American Publishers
        Recording Industry Association of America
        NBC Universal
        American Federation of Musicians
        Directors Guild of America
        National Music Publishers' A

    • For really going after what is a problem in our country.

      At least when they're focusing on youtube videos, they're not making anything -important- worse.

      "To fix the housing crisis, we have passed the 'We love Homeowners' bill: it makes it easier for banks to foreclose on your house and stipulates that if you can't pay off your house, the bank can sell your organs to pay for it. It also will reduce our taxes by saving the courts money: banks now have legal immunity and are not required to prove you owe them money before they foreclose on your house. This bi

    • To be fair - this is probably the most they are capable of handling.

    • More like thank you corporations, your government is bought and paid for by these corporate criminals.

    • It used to be that if you were broke and homeless, you could drop your hat on a street corner and make some cash playing music. I guess now being a performing artist is going to be illegal, and you'll just have to beg.

  • Good thing this isn't Japan!

    • by Denogh (2024280)
      Curses! You beat me to it. I've got no problem with criminalizing Karaoke. There are other elements in the bill that might be bad, but we've got to look for the silver lining here.
  • by Skarecrow77 (1714214) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @03:27PM (#36454114)

    No matter how famous and how many hits the band on stage had, they played at least 1 or 2 cover songs.

    Shit like that is why you go see bands live in the first place. Is that illegal now too?

    Or has it always been illegal and it's just that nobody gave a damn?

    • I think usually the bands get permission to do cover songs. Or rather, they have their manager do it for them.

      • by QRDeNameland (873957) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @03:44PM (#36454346)

        I think usually the bands get permission to do cover songs. Or rather, they have their manager do it for them.

        In terms of live performance, virtually all venues have blanket licensing that covers songwriting royalties for any song played in the establishment, either by a soundsystem or by a performing band. So a band can pretty much play any song live without needing permission.

        The only time a band needs to be concerned about licensing a cover song is if they release a recording of it.

        • by tiptone (729456)
          ASCAP covers licensing in bars/venues, and yes I believe it's the same rather you're playing a jukebox/radio or live bands.
      • I'm in a band. Technically, if we "sell" our material (CDs, tapes, video, etc) with other people's copy protected work (ie: cover songs) then we must have permission to do so. This occasionally results in the original copyright holders getting a piece of our sales. In reality, our band is not popular enough to have anyone at RIAA (or other bands) care, plus we don't sell our stuff (giveaways). So we don't bother with permission. For popular bands, they need permission and there is usually a financial c
        • by amiga3D (567632)

          You can pretty much count on it that someone will abuse the law. I'm certain that it's not intended for the average person lip-syncing for his friends on youtube but you can bet some people will get charged by some idiot or other.

        • IANAL. If you are recording and distributing copies of someone's copyrighted song (that is, a song that is not in the public domain and for which you do not hold the copyright), you must get a mechanical license for the composition. A mechanical license is arranged with either the song's publisher, or (in the U.S.) the clearing house Harry Fox Agency. If you'll be performing such a song - by playing a recording on the radio or performing live in public, for example - you need a public performance license fr
    • by Bovius (1243040) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @03:41PM (#36454298)

      Ostensibly, bands that play cover songs are supposed to pre-arrange the rights to record or perform said songs with a performance rights organization, and then pay royalties for the performance or pay for a license to record and distribute the song. The PROs make their money off of this, so they can be pretty aggressive about hunting down people who play or perform the music of the copyright holders they represent. The question of who actually pays the fee can get complicated depending on how the music is performed; in a traditional live performance, the location hosting the performance would likely be paying the performance royalty, not the band.

      That being said, I'm betting a lot of local performers and garage bands often don't have enough visibility to show up on the radar.

      That's how it works, though; legally, you have to pay a fee to get your guitar out and perform a song so common any random stranger could hum the tune along with you.

    • by vlm (69642)

      No matter how famous and how many hits the band on stage had, they played at least 1 or 2 cover songs.

      Shit like that is why you go see bands live in the first place. Is that illegal now too?

      Or has it always been illegal and it's just that nobody gave a damn?

      http://www.songclearance.com/ [songclearance.com]

      This is for recorded performances. About 9 cents per mp3, for example. Overpriced, but simple and straightforward. The simple and straightforward are why I'm using it as an example.

      The situation with live performances is waaaaaay more confusing. As my friend the musician drunkenly explained once, the venue (in his case, dive bars) pays ASCAP directly, he does not pay a penny. If he sells a CD of a live performance he gets to pay a second license fee on the recording for ea

  • by Dyinobal (1427207)
    Well how long till a Cop er I mean a department of Homeland security agent pulls me over for singing to a song I've on my Mp3 hooked up to my car stereo on my way to work. Because that's the direction this is going.
  • by vlm (69642)

    The way the statute is written... It would now criminalize anybody that performs a copyrighted work, which is essentially nowadays any song under the sun.

    I'm mystified how this works with a copyrighted song released under a CC-SA license that explicitly permits that soon to be criminal act...

    • by OverlordQ (264228)

      I'm mystified how this works with a copyrighted song released under a CC-SA license that explicitly permits that soon to be criminal act...

      If you read the bill it likely refers to unlicensed performance of an copyrighted work.

  • Tosh.0 will have nothing to put on the air!!!

  • Could someone create a federal bill to be voted into law to criminalize the singing of 'Friday', even by the originator's of this song?

    That would be a law I could get behind.

  • I'm sure it's not what the bill was focused on, but when I read this article, I can't help but think of videos like Sigur Rós Shreds [youtube.com].

  • by mrnick (108356) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @03:48PM (#36454402) Homepage

    ASCAP and BMI already charge businesses (nigh clubs/etc) that earn revenue from live bands covering music and even music being played in a jukebox. Since this is already in place I wonder why ASCAP/BMI wouldn't go after youtube.com rather than try and make the performers responsible.

    Here are their respective links:

    http://www.ascap.com/ [ascap.com]
    http://www.bmi.com/ [bmi.com]

    • Because going after Google is usually a bad idea?
    • You read my mind. This is what ASCAP and BMI are for. Yes YouTube could probably pay a license fee to cover all videos uploaded, but you could also put responsibility on the user to pay the fees. By ASCAP's current enforcement methods, it would involve reaching out to the performer or venue and requesting the necessary fees. If they decline, lawyers get involved. As far as I know, this is a civil issue, not a criminal one. Why are we making more laws when we already have a system in place?
  • It would now criminalize anybody that performs a copyrighted work without permission from the copyright owner

    FTFY. This law is absurd, but it would be even more absurd if it were criminal for copyright owners to perform their own work.

  • It's a shame that we're getting all of the government that we're paying for.
  • Let us observe a moment of silence, please, for the death of the knowledge on how to use a hyphen properly.

  • Doesn't this make like 95% of choir/piano/symphony performances illegal? (the other 5% being classics that are thankfully beyond copyright) Owning sheet music != owning the copyright so they are obviously infringing, right?
  • Thie whole Idea is just wrong... Playing/singing along to recorded music is how every musician I have ever met/seen/played with has gotten their start and found their passion for music. Furthermore, Performing songs that everybody already knows is how most bands learn to play with each other, Cover band is the next progression. Many a high-school garage band I have seen belt out "Classics" Cover bands is the way to go, if said musician actually believes s/he can make a career, or even money at all, playing
  • So what's next? Playing an air guitar?

    Of course, a law that would have put Milli Vanilli in jail can't be all bad.
  • I sang Forever by Drake (feat Kanye, Eminem and Lil Wayne). I also acted it out. I took the backing track and then redid their verses and mixed them and everything. I put it on Youtube for my friends (I did it tongue in cheek, not seriously). Youtube recognized immediately that I had used copyrighted works (they recognized it as Forever which I took as a complement that I did it well enough to trick the machine) but they let me keep it up. They show an ad at the bottom of my video and presumably some of tha

  • From what I've seen (and I could be wrong or have missed something because I looked this up quickly) this seems to be the key part:

    A) the offense consists of 10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copyrighted works; and
    (B)(i) the total retail value of the performances, or the total economic value of such public performances to the infringer or to the copyright owner, would exceed $2,500; or
    (ii) the total fair market value of licenses to offer performances of those works would exceed $5,000;;

    "Electronic means" seems fairly vague. Also, there seems to be both a minimum occurrence threshold, and a requirement for some monetary gain here.
    Still, this has only been introduced to a committee, the majority of bills never make it past that stage. But it made me wonder, if at some point, congress will ever attempt to crack down on your average local cover band. For year

    • by Dahamma (304068)

      I looked up some of Klobuchar's other gems... luckily most haven't made it past committee...

      * making it illegal to sell recycled metal without proper written or electronic documentation

      * temporarily suspend the duties on aluminum vacuum mugs, children's plastic wallets, soap pumps, and many other bizarre items

      * designating April as "Distracted Driving Awareness Month" ...and so many more...

      Basically, we know where she stands on the "quantity vs. quality" argument...

  • by senorpoco (1396603) on Wednesday June 15, 2011 @04:21PM (#36454774)
    I am sure people lipsyncing on youtube is costing recording artists literally tens of dollars per year in lost revenue.
  • All the article says is that some new law will make lip syncing illegal. That would make every music video illegal, even the ones made by the record companies, since artists don't perform live while recording them. It doesn't provide a reference to check this claim, although I suspect it's incorrect.
  • Also known as the "Milli Vanilli Billi" Yeah, it's a slow day.
  • Now you won't be able to post American Idol clips - the whole show is lip synced.
  • The senators that proposed this gem: Klobuchar (D-MN), Cornyn (R-TX), Coons (D-DE).

    Coons is famous for being a Republican and then changing to Democrat, so this is truly a bipartisan offering. Isn't great when the two parties can stop fighting and agree on something?

    I just wish they could start agreeing on something, you know, useful, and not blatantly supporting the MAFIAA's antiquated 20th century business models. Frankly, it should be in everyone's best interest that nobody who touches this bill get
  • So, this the text of the bill. Namely the text which would be added

    ‘(A) the offense consists of 10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copyrighted works; and

    ‘(B)(i) the total retail value of the performances, or the total economic value of such public performances to the infringer or to the copyright owner, would exceed $2,500; or

    ‘(ii) the total fair market value of licenses to offer performances of those works would exceed $5,000;

  • This is really just a Chicken Little story by someone who apparently didn't bother to read the statute before freaking out.

    The bill amends 18 USC 2319(b), which refers specifically to violations of 17 USC 506(a)(1)(A), which reads:

    [Any person who willfully infringes a copyright shall be punished as provided under section 2319 of title 18, if the infringement was committed] for purposes of commercial advantage or private financial gain.

    So this doesn't apply to little Susie lip-synching her favorite Bieber so

    • by Jim Buzbee (517)
      That's the intent of the law. But what if Susie's mother embeds that movie on her own web page for all her friends to see? And what if Susie's mom has a few Google Ads on that web page (private financial gain)? And then, for whatever reason that these things happen, Susie's cute video goes viral, Mom's web page gets hundreds of thousands of hits, and those ads get clicked on generating a few thousand dollars? Well guess what? Mom is now a potential felon.
  • There's a good discussion of the issue below. http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20110609/23171814649/people-realizing-new-anti-streaming-criminal-copyright-bill-could-mean-jail-time-lip-synchers.shtml [techdirt.com] As usual, the broad language of a bill like this creates the possibility of many unintended consequences. Here's my comment from that discussion:

    OK, say a mother is recording her kid's fifth birthday party along with the whole gang singing "Happy Birthday to You!". A mishap occurs that makes it particular
  • I see people running for office, getting their name out there, sometimes making platform statements, promises... I never see them talk about how they'll turn the state's resources against us for their corporate masters. But that is what they do. It is what they are paid to do. It's completely transparent that law is for sale to the highest non-human bidder, and tax dollars will be used towards those interests. The human-level debates must be focused on emotional issues that the government really has no

  • Ever since the media consolidation rules were changed one hand has been washing the heck out of the other.
  • I want somebody to write a copylefted song about the virtues of beating up politicians, how about it?
    Could be a hit!

  • As the headline reads, technically, this could also be used to prosecute an artist who is lip syncing the original video, right? Say I upload, without authorization, Milli Vanilli lip-syncing, it is the lip syncer and not the uploader? If not, and only the person who does the unauthorized upload is responsible (and not the lip syncer), then the headline (or the legislation) is truly off key. It assumes the kid lip syncing is the guilty party, when as always it was the unlawful distributor (uploader) and lip
  • Between the EU trying to ban "hacking tools" and the US trying to ban lip-syncing it's hard to figure out just which government body has the more idiotic legislators.

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