The US COVID-19 stimulus bill comes with new copyright laws

The latest US COVID-19 relief bill is the perfect vehicle for passing unrelated legislation, because concessions will be made to avoid holding up money for the public. As a result, Congress isn’t simply voting for or against a $600 per person stimulus package, unemployment aid, and other acts related to COVID-19 relief today. It’s voting for a massive government funding plan that includes thousands of pages of unrelated legislation, including some important changes to copyright law. 

The change most relevant to you, someone who uses the internet, comes in an act called CASE, but I’ll start with a different copyright-related part of the package, because it’s being misunderstood by some. There’s a section from Republican Senator Thom Tillis which defines a felony for operating a service dedicated to providing illegal streams, and I’ve seen this described as something that will “make illegal streaming a felony” in general—as in, “you can go to jail for streaming Nintendo games on Twitch.” That’s not really what it says.

What the Tillis illegal streaming law is about