Post a YouTube Video, get 5 years in jail: US Govt

As ridiculous and far-fetched as it sounds, that’s exactly what United States Senate Bill S-978 allows.

Claiming to “amend the criminal penalty provision for criminal infringement of a copyright, and for other purposes“, the text of this bill ought to scare every single American (and probably anyone who uses an American company for their web host) to death.

Not to mention all of the actual video sharing services, like YouTube, that allow people to embed videos hosted on their service into blogs and the like.

People post videos of copyrighted material to YouTube and other video sharing services all the time.  It’s a big problem, and Youtube has processes in place to help legitimate copyright holders have their content removed, but that’s an endless process, and can never prevent copyright infringement, only react to it.

The US Government response to this problem appears to be to terrorize the glove with 5-year prison terms and $2,500.

That seems more than a little heavy-handed, doesn’t it?

It is also the way governments around the globe, not just in America, are dealing with their citizens: by threatening the people.

The actual text of this bill reads as follows:


(a) Amendments to Section 2319 of Title 18- Section 2319 of title 18, United States Code, is amended–

(1) in subsection (b)–

(A) by redesignating paragraphs (2) and (3) as paragraphs (3) and (4), respectively; and

(B) by inserting after paragraph (1) the following:

‘(2) shall be imprisoned not more than 5 years, fined in the amount set forth in this title, or both, if–

‘(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;’; and

What this bullshit legaleze means is that if you, for example, embed a YouTube video of copyrighted content into a post on your blog and 10 people watch it, you’re guilty and can go to jail for 5 years.

Thousands and thousands of people, me included, embed videos into blogs every single day.  Why should we be held liable for the actions of the person who actually violated copyright by posting the video in the first place?

Well, for starters the number of actual copyright violators isn’t that large.  It’s hardly a group worth prosecuting.  If it was, the government would be doing it (and no doubt stealing their life savings under proceeds of crime legislation while they’re at it).

No, by casting a net this wide, the government is able to threaten, to terrorize, to demonize a very large group of people.  It’s what governments the world over do best.

Typical government thuggery in action.

Who was it who said that if you make everything illegal, everyone will be criminals?  I forget… but that’s the road we’ve been on for far too long.

The sensible approach would be to hold the people responsible for violating the copyright of others.  That would mean the person who actually POSTED the copyrighted video, not the person who watches it, or posts a link to it on their website.

Holding people responsible for their actions is not, sadly, the American Way any more.  Personal Responsibility is out of vogue, and has been for a long time.

Clearly it is easier to attack some poor blog owner for linking to a copyrighted video than to go after the person who posted it in the first place.

This is absurd.

It’s kind of like Canada’s approach to “gun control”, where we track the people who are NOT the problem (law-abiding firearm owners), but refuse to track sex offenders and violent criminals.  Ridiculous.

Let’s go after the people who aren’t the problem.


I”m from the Government and I’m here to help.

Yeah, right…

5 years in prison for posting a YouTube video?

So much for the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave


2 thoughts on “Post a YouTube Video, get 5 years in jail: US Govt

  1. Thank you for explaining the meaning of ‘(A) the offense consists of 10 or more public performances by electronic means..”

    I thought I knew what a “public performance” was until I read this excerpt. In this context, I didn’t have a flipping clue what it meant.

    One would think that the drafters of legislation could call a spade a spade rather than a garden implement. Why obfuscate the issue when the sentence could have been put as simply as you did: “(if) 10 people watch it (video), you’re guilty (of sin) and can go to jail for 5 years.”

    End of story.

    In answer to your question: “Who was it who said that if you make everything illegal, everyone will be criminals?”

    You may be thinking of Ayn Rand who said:

    “There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.”

    Another one of Ayn Rand’s keen observations was: “…People can be put in jail and lose civil rights and liberties through bureaucratic procedures. The only thing that is keeping you out of jail is government goodwill.”

    It sounds like the “grace period” is over. Those who innocently post and those who dare watch what is posted will be clustered together in one of those FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) concentration camp dungeons!

    1. Thank you Jane! Yes, it was indeed Ayn Rand’s famous quote I was thinking of, but wrote paraphrased so boorishly. Ayn’s version has such a beautiful ring to it.

      So very appropriate to the current spate of “thou shalt not” legislation, isn’t it?

      Thou shalt not:

      dance in front of Thomas Jefferson
      watch a youtube video,

      and the most important one of all…

      thou shalt not think for yourself…

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