Downloading digital music illegally is one thing. Lip-syncing your favorite tunes in a YouTube video -- a totally different story, right? But the government doesn't see it that way. In fact, a new bill in the U.S. Senate might toughen copyright laws, making it illegal to upload lip-synced videos, like the ones from YouTube sensation Keenan Cahill (the boy with the glasses who reminds me of the other little boy from Jerry Maguire? Yeah, that one). How ridiculous is this?!
And of course, as with any law, it's not so explicitly written that it only applies in certain circumstances. Technically, the way it's written, the government could criminalize anyone who performs a copyrighted work, which is anything you can think of.
As a writer and someone who considers themselves an artist to an extent, I understand wanting to protect something you've created.
But you also have to be realistic and fair, for crying out loud. I'd say a video that is a clear rip-off of someone else's art -- like, say, Rihanna's "S&M" music video that very blatantly stole imagery from David LaChapelle -- is obviously up for debate for copyright infringement. But a lip-syncer? A KID? It's like they think people are so stupid they can't tell the difference between a fan moving their mouth to a song sung by the original artist ... and the original artist. Gimme a break! Lady Gaga even embraces these lip-syncing videos. She used them in her Google commercial.
This controversy reminds me of how certain restaurants are afraid to sing "Happy Birthday" to the tune of "Happy Birthday" because of copyright infringement ... I've always thought that was nuts. I mean, what's next ... karaoke? Drag queens performing Cher and Barbra Streisand in cabaret acts? Making your own smartphone ring tone? HUMMING?!
Plain and simple, lip-syncing videos on YouTube are not a threat to a copyrighted artist's profits or integrity, so why are they being treated as such in a U.S. Senate bill? Maybe Congress should try to get to work on something that's an actual threat -- like climate change or the educational system in this country.
What do you think about this copyright law?
Image via YouTube