S.978, a new bill in Congress, makes it a felony to post videos that contain copyright-infringing music, with up to five years in prison for violators. The clever folks at Fight for the Future have noticed that this law would have put Justin Bieber in jail, since he launched his career by posting videos of himself singing R&B tunes, in violation of copyright. The Free Bieber campaign is aiming to raise awareness of the campaign to fight S.978 and keep posting videos of yourself singing music legal, and they've got plenty of info for helping you fight the bill and enlist your friends to do the same. After you sign, you can submit a webcam video "from behind bars" explaining why jail-time for ordinary internet users is a terrible idea (they're calling it the "Biebercam"). You can also submit your own photos of Bieber in jail to their Tumblr.
Just a kid, singing a song
This is a video of child celebrity Justin Bieber singing "With You" by the artist Chris Brown. YouTube videos like this one were what made him famous. Tons of kids do this for fun, and many now-popular artists got started in this same way.
Wait-- it's illegal?
Copyright law is so extreme, just singing somebody else's song in public could be infringement. Because he and his mother posted the videos to advance his music career, it's commercial infringement. And a new bill would make this a felony.
5 years in jail, for singing!
The maximum sentence would be five-years, just for singing a cover! Other online video "crimes" could include: videos of a school play, a professional baseball game, or videos with incidental background music (even just a ringtone). Nuts, right?
Timothy writes, “Diego Gómez is a Colombian conservation biologist. When he was a college student, he shared a single research paper online so that others could read and learn from it, just as he did. Diego was criminally prosecuted for copyright infringement, and faced up to 8 years in prison.”
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