American citizens have been patiently waiting for financial relief to aid them in combating the economic hardships caused by the coronavirus pandemic. After months of discussions, Congress passed the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 this week, and it interestingly includes a provision that will make illegal streaming a felony.

According to a report from Loudwire via The Hollywood Reporter on Monday (Dec. 21), the new bill, which details the stimulus package that will provide assistance to individuals, business and a plethora of industries, also contains a legislation called The Protecting Lawful Streaming Act. The bill was proposed earlier this month by North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis, a Republican who is pushing for penalties to be enforced for streaming unlicensed work.

Sen. Tillis, who presented the bill back on Dec. 10, said that the legislation "would punish large-scale criminal streaming services that willfully and for commercial advantage or private financial gain offer to the public illicit services dedicated to illegally streaming copyrighted material."

On Sen. Tills' official website, he notes that the protective streaming act "would apply only to commercial, for-profit streaming piracy services. The law will not sweep in normal practices by online service providers, good faith business disputes, noncommercial activities, or in any way impact individuals who access pirated streams or unwittingly stream unauthorized copies of copyrighted works. Individuals who might use pirate streaming services will not be affected."

This means that everyday citizens who may stream illegal material would not be impacted by the bill's penalties.

A similar legislature was initially presented by Sen. Amy Klobuchar about a decade ago, but the bill didn't stick.

If The Protecting Lawful Streaming Act is passed, illegal streaming of movies and music could result in fines and prison time of either two years or five years, or a penalty of up to 10 years behind bars.

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