WASHINGTON — What do you get when you ask a 17-year-old pop star about intellectual property rights?
A Washington D.C. radio host decided to find out on Friday when he asked Justin Bieber about Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar’s bill to criminalize unauthorized online streaming of copyrighted content. Bieber said Klobuchar — whom he first thought to be a man — should be “locked up” for proposing such a bill.
“Whoever she is, she needs to know that I’m saying she needs to be locked up, put away in cuffs,” Bieber said. “People need to have the freedoms. … People need to be able to sing songs. I just think that’s ridiculous.”
A group opposing Klobuchar’s legislation — which, by the way, would only target those who seek to profit off of illegal streaming, not those who upload private videos to YouTube — have used Bieber as a cautionary tale of what could happen if the legislation passes. A website called freebieber.org says the Canadian teen, who came to fame after covering popular songs on YouTube, could face “5 brutal years in prison” if the legislation passes.
An intellectual property lawyer addressed the issue on his blog earlier this week in a post titled, “Justin Bieber is not going to jail.”
“The proposed legislation changes no law that would effect someone uploading a video to YouTube,” he wrote in a lengthy analysis of copyright laws. “The individuals behind the ‘Free Bieber’ campaign are either completely ignorant about how copyright law works or being deliberately disingenuous to stir up opposition against a minor, albeit judicious, piece of legislation. Anyone who uploads video to YouTube faces no increased risk of criminal penalties if this bill passes.
“Justin Bieber is not going to jail.”
But he is going to go on the radio and insist that Amy Klobuchar should.
Here’s the interview, with D.C.’s Hot 99.5.
Update: Klobuchar’s office has released this statement, from spokesperson Brigit Helgen: “Justin Bieber must have been misled about the content of this bill. It’s not about people posting their personal work on the web. This is common sense legislation that passed through the Judiciary Committee with no objection from either party. The bill only covers the intentional commercial theft of things like books, commercial music, and movies, including foreign piracy.”
Five recording artist groups also released a statement supporting the legislation.
“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,” the group said.
“Sen. 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.”
Devin Henry can be reached at email@example.com