Opponents of new anti-piracy legislation are turning to a music sensation to make their point that new anti-piracy legislation would be an overreach: Justin Bieber.
On Thursday, Bieber himself weighed in. In an interview with a Washington DC music station on Thursday, said that Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) should be “locked up” for sponsoring a bill that would make profiting from illegal streaming of copyrighted content a felony.
“Whomever she is she needs to know that I’m saying she needs to be locked up,” he said.
“People need to have the freedom….people need to be able to sing songs. I just think that’s ridiculous,” he added.
But there’s some question as to how much Bieber knows about the legislation. He appeared to have been informed about the bill by the radio show host, and had to be told that one of its chief sponsors is a woman, not a man.
The advocacy group Fight for the Future has been using Bieber’s name and image on a website called FreeBieber.org, claiming that even user-generated videos of fans doing covers of songs, which helped skyrocket Bieber to fame, would risk felony charges. Although Bieber was on the radio blasting the proposed legislation, his lawyers sent a cease and desist letter to Fight for the Future, claiming that they were violating his trademark, publicity and privacy rights in their campaign against the bill.
Advocates of the legislation, pending in the Senate and introduced this week in the House, say that Bieber and Fight for the Future are mischaracterizing what the bill would do.
A spokeswoman for Klobuchar told the StarTribune in Minneapolis, “Justin Bieber must have been misled about the content of this bill. It’s not about people posting their personal work to the web. …The bill only covers the intentional commercial theft of things like books, commercial music, and movies, including foreign piracy.”
The audio of Bieber’s conversation is here.
Update: The whole Bieber campaign has caught the attention of major industry trade associations and guilds, which are pushing hard for passage of the streaming legislation.
The American Federation of Musicians, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, the National Music Publishers Association and the Recording Academy and the Recording Industry Association of America put out this statement:
“An anonymous website is hijacking a legitimate effort to protect the rights of millions of artists. Its blatant inaccuracies are unfair to all those striving to protect the rights of American creators.
“Senator Klobuchar’s pro-artist legislation is carefully crafted to go after people who, with criminal intent, try to earn a profit from the misuse of copyrighted videos. It does not affect people who post their own videos or the services they use to do so. As numerous news outlets and copyright experts have concluded (links below), the claim that any aspiring musician would face jail time for posting videos is simply wrong. We represent thousands of musicians, songwriters, record labels and others in the music community and we are very grateful for the Senator’s thoughtful, reasonable proposal.”