Media Executive Pushes US Senators to Make Streaming Piracy a Felony

The co-president of Millenium Media, Jonathan Yunger, is calling on U.S. Senators to deem streaming piracy a felony.
Millennium Media is one of the longest-running independent film companies in the country, and they have continued to urge U.S. Lawmakers to make streaming piracy a felony in the United States.
Currently, in the United States, copyright infringers can be sentenced up to five years in prison. But streaming piracy, on the other hand, is classified as a misdemeanor meaning a maximum sentence of one year.
In other words, streaming piracy and downloading piracy are currently classified as two different offenses under U.S. law.
Last month the US Senate Judiciary Committee Held a Hearing that discussed online piracy and the plan to address it.
As of this writing, there are minimal site-blocking attempts on pirate movie websites, and this may be changing in the future.
One of the latest incidents we saw with pirate movie sites and APKs was CotoMovies, which has now been shut down.
Also in 2019, we saw another Push by U.S. Lawmakers to Criminalize Streaming, which was led by major sports organizations.
In summary, large media companies are continuing to push for more severe punishment on the end-users participating in streaming piracy.
But again, this ultimately comes down to a few questions:
1. How does the end-user know if a website or application holds the proper copyright licensing?
2. And why should the end-user be punished for not knowing?

Jonathan Yunger and U.S. Senators Transcript

Below are a few highlights within the transcript between Jonathan Yunger (co-president of Millenium Media) and U.S. Senators.
Question from Senator Chris Coons:
1. Several foreign jurisdictions rely on no-fault injunctive relief to compel online providers to block access to websites hosting infringing content, subject to valid process. Could the United States implement a similar framework while providing adequate due process protections and without impinging on free speech rights? Why or why not?
Jonathan Yunger’s response:
“I am not an attorney, but I feel strongly that the United States, the beacon of freedom and opportunity for the entire world, can find a site blocking solution similar to one that we see being used effectively in over 34 countries, and do so consistent with free speech and due process. Many of these countries are in the European Union. Most are democracies. Several are among our closest allies, including Australia, Canada, and the UK.
It is my understanding that site-blocking laws require copyright holders to take their case to a court of law and prove that the website is a clearly illegal copyright infringing site before any blocking takes place. I honestly do not understand how that kind of remedy, based on that kind of due process could ever harm free speech, unless someone is referring to the “speech” of a pirate site operator in Eastern Europe distributing our works for “free.” But that is not the kind of speech protected by the First Amendment.
And unfortunately, that kind of activity directly and negatively affects my ability and the ability of every other member of the independent film industry to engage in the expressive activities that are protected by the First Amendment. I see no reason why, with hundreds of years of experience in protecting the due process rights of its citizens, the United States cannot protect the rights of creatives through effective remedies like site blocking while ensuring continued due process protections.”
Jonathan Yunger’s closing remark to Senators:
“We must change existing law to create a more powerful deterrent for Americans to engage in streaming piracy, and to allow the DoJ to prosecute these criminals who are engaged in massive levels of infringement with the same felony penalties that apply to illegal downloading and distribution.”
For more information and the full transcript between Yunger and U.S. Senators CLICK HERE.
The scope of these comments is nothing new, as multiple copyright holders have argued similar remarks in recent years.
It’s important to note that there has not been any official legislative changes regarding streaming piracy, but the pressure appears to be mounting.
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