While it's already illegal to upload and download copyrighted content, there's a loophole that lets streaming sites get away with it. The U.S. Senate is moving to close that fast. Handcuffs2

The Commercial Felony Streaming Act – a bill that would make illegal streaming a felony – has passed the Judiciary Committee and now moves into the full Senate. If it's passed, it would carry penalties of up to five years in prison for offenders.

The language of the bill notes that anyone who streams "10 or more public performances by electronic means, during any 180-day period, of 1 or more copyrighted works" would be in violation and subject to prosecution. In addition, they must violate the copyright knowingly.

Several entertainment organizations – including the Screen Actors Guild, the Directors Guild of America, and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists – applauded the move.

"Make no mistake: the illegal streaming of content for commercial or financial gain is a crime, and the Commercial Felony Streaming Act places the appropriate criminal label on the activity," the organizations said in a statement. "This legislation is an important step forward in our efforts to stem the rising tide of Internet theft that threatens our members' very livelihoods."

The bill still must pass the Senate and the House, of course – but should it do so, it's likely to get a warm reception from the Oval Office. It was the Obama administration, in fact, that brought up the issue of illegal streaming to the Senate in March. 

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