A website created this week in opposition to a Senate bill now faces legal threats from the lawyers of Canadian pop star Justin Bieber, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).
The parody site, Free Bieber, points out that the Commercial Felony Streaming Act could have landed the teen sensation in jail. Bieber became famous thanks in part to videos he posted on YouTube in which he sang popular copyrighted songs.
The bill was introduced in May by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), John Cornyn (R-TX) and Christopher Coons (D-DE). The legislation would make infringing a copyright by “publicly performing” the copyrighted work a felony offense punishable by up to five years in jail.
The site posts edited images of Bieber behind bars and fake images of him being arrested. One image caption says that the “now-routine ‘online singing’ arrest” of Bieber caused a “tweenage riot.”
Ironically, Bieber’s lawyers have issued a cease and desist letter to the site’s owners, claiming the site violates the pop star’s intellectual property rights and publicity rights. Law experts have warned that celebrities’ use of the latter claim has put the First Amendment at risk.
The EFF said the claim was “completely baseless.”
In a letter to Bieber’s lawyers, the digital rights group said the site was protected by the fair use doctrine because the images have been manipulated, a person would not reasonably believe that Bieber endorsed the site and the site in no way impinges on the celebrity’s market for his own image.
“The kind of important political speech that is the core of the Free Bieber campaign deserves the most protection of all, and we are glad that the folks behind it are willing to stand up and defend their right to Free Justin Bieber – whether he likes it or not,” the EFF said.
Photo credit: FreeBieber.org
Eric W. Dolan
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