@StarvingGamer: It is true that this bill places "electronic performances" in line with the myriad of other definitions of copyright infringement methods, some of which may or may not already cover Youtube videos. However, I don't see the big practical difference in how the law functions. Streamers of copyrighted content could just as well be sentenced under current laws if it is argued that streaming is a form of distribution (of which there are literally dozens of definitions for in current U.S. copyright law.)
And even if there were a change, then it wouldn't change who administrates the infringement of copyrights. The state can not and will not charge a person for copyright infringement without the copyright holder is involved. Ultimately, the copyright is controlled by the copyright holder, and if, for example, Activision are okay with a video about with Call of Duty footage on Youtube, then that's the end of the story; nobody is going to jail. Likewise, nobody can imprison my friend for driving my car if he has my permission.
My problem with this outcry is that it is misdirected and mostly misinformed. People are seeing this as some kind of crackdown on the internet community, but this is not the case. This bill is mostly the result of lobbyists wanting a more effective way of punishing people who stream movies and sports events online. It won't damage your average video game related video creator.
Instead of focussing on this minor change, people should be fighting the incredibly imbalanced copyright laws in general. U.S. copyright laws are incredibly unspecific, and the Fair Use exception is far too vague to be a reliable protection of creative use of a copyright. Whether something is "fair use" is left to be decided by the whim of a judge, and with such uncertainty, copyright holding corporations are basically free to bully individuals from using their material, even if it is indeed fair.
@StarvingGamer: Actually, that isn't true. As stipulated in §506 "Criminal Offences" of title 17 (Copyright) of the United States Code, It is already illegal to infringe copyright.
S.978 makes amendments to §2319 "Criminal infringement of a copyright" of title 18 (Crimes and criminal procedures) which outlines the limits to punishment of the offences described in §506 of title 17, which before the amendments are up to 5-10 years in prison in the case of harsh infringement of copyright. The amendments don't significantly change how copyright laws work, they just add previously nonexistent forms of copyright infringements to the list.
As the law reads, significant copyright infringement is already punishable by up to 10 years of imprisonment. However, I'm no lawyer, so if you can point to the exact parts of the bill and/or current laws where this change you talk about is, then I'd be glad to take a look at it.
When I first heard about this bill, I was actually quite concerned about the consequences. Everything sounded so extreme: "This is the end of youtube" "this is the end of gaming videos" etc.. But then I actually read the bill and the laws it was amending and realized that everything had been blown way out of proportions, as usual.
In its current form, all S.978 does is amend current copyright laws to add the streaming (or: "performances performance by electronic means") to the list of possible copyright infringements (which previously was just about anything but that) - something I already assumed to be illegal. The same limitations of the copyright infringement laws, such as fair use, still apply, and nothing else has been changed.
Considering how companies like Youtube have handled copyright previously (immediately taking down videos on copyright claims,) I really don't think anybody should be concerned about any consequences to their online lives, because, unless you illegally stream movies in public places (in which case: LEG IT!!,) then this won't affect you.
Nevertheless, I still find the bill quite unnecessary. It's not like streaming movies was considered perfectly legal by judges before.
I completely disagree in the notion that unions would harm the industry. Unions don't make demands for no reason, but, yes, if game developers aren't currently compensated fairly for their work, then they will, without a doubt, demand higher wages - they should be paid what they are worth, shouldn't they?
Either way, I'm sure game developers, and their potential unions, won't be stupid enough to destroy the profitability of their own industry by driving prices up, nor would they be stupid enough to chase their employers to China. No one should expect unions to ask for money if the money isn't there to give, because they won't.
The idea that unions are these greedy, money-grabbing organizations is completely unfounded. Employers and employees have a shared interest in staying competitive. For example: the past few years have seen a great number of unions accept pay-cuts across the board to help their respective industries make it through the recession.
At the end of the day, unions help greatly improve the working conditions of their workers, and that's all that really matters. I can't get myself to be against unionization just because there's a small chance I'd have to pay a small bit more for my games. Game developers are people too, thus deserve to be treated with respect just as the rest of us, and if their employers wont give that respect to them voluntarily, then they should band together and take it.
The main question here is why other hobbies don't have cool slang terms associated to them like this.
For example: as a gamer, I can easily say, "Hey, I'mma gonna game me some games caus' I'm a gamer." But a croquet enthusiast can't say "Hey, I'mma gonna croquet me some croquets caus' I'm a croquetter."
If it is the case that adverse working conditions similar to the ones described here are commonplace in the video game industry and the likes, then there's no doubt in my mind that there is a serious need of unions here. Sadly, though, unionising at this point will prove to be an extremely challenging task. And with the game industry being global and there being a significant amount of people wanting to gain entry to it, I have my doubts about whether a unionising movement would succeed. Varying support from the consumers also doesn't help.
But for the sake of the game developers, it has to be done. Treating employees without respect and dignity like this is never okay, and the fact that the employees are enthusiastic about the industry and games doesn't change that - nor does "it's always been like this".