Alright, whether you are a Belieber or not, do you think it’s fair to put Justin Bieber behind bars for up to five years because he got his start singing songs by other people on YouTube? No way!
But a new bill that’s getting passed around Congress, S.978, would make it a felony to post videos that contain copyright-infringing music. It’s not just Bieber who has been a party to this trend, but thousands of aspiring musicians and even just kids having fun.
Still, Bieber is certainly the biggest star these days who has his career thanks to YouTube, but if the bill had been passed, he could have faced jailtime for singing songs like Chris Brown’s “With You” on the internet. Hence, the name given to the efforts to stop this bill is “The Free Bieber campaign.”
Copyright law is so out of control that just singing someone else’s song in public could count as infringement. And considering the videos he and his mom posted on YouTube were crucial in advancing his career, it counts as commercial infringement, which under S.978 would be a felony!
This bill is a result of the music and movie companies who see more money in such extreme laws. Sure, there are still problems with pirating, but jailtime for singing a song is absurd. Bieber’s videos all identify they aren’t his original songs, so we liken this to improper citation in a paper. Just think, you forget one comma on your Works Cited and, bam!, five years in the slammer.
Other online “crimes” that could get you some time in jail? Simple things like videos of a school play, a professional baseball game or just a video with incidental background music. Oh, and by the way, “Happy Birthday” is copyrighted, so those videos could get you in trouble, too. Yeah, it’s ludicrous.
The Free Bieber campaign aims to rally support and signatures to pass along to Congress and show them how many people are standing opposed to this. If you want your voice to be heard – in Congress and on YouTube – head to their site freebieber.org and add your signature!