This is truly, deeply fucked up. I don't really care how bad you think it is to perform a YouTube lip-sync video without obtaining a license first - and yes, a case could be made that this should be unlawful. In fact, it already is. However, right now it's civil copyright infringement - and many argue that even this is too draconian.

This bill proposes to make it a crime under US federal law. Now, there's a big worm in that apple - all federal offenses are felonies. If you don't understand the implications, here's a bit of information: any person convicted of a felony in the US, even if they never pay a cent in fines or spend a second in jail, has a number of rights revoked, suspended or modified. Among them are the right to vote and the right to possess firearms (even if the offense is entirely nonviolent, as this would be). Perhaps more significantly, it is mandatory to disclose felony convictions on applications for housing, employment, credit, utility service and other such essentials. Most of these do not require the applicant to disclose civil judgements and misdemeanor convicions, and even if they ask, it is generally legal to withhold that information. Also, this stigma is lifelong - regardless of the length of the sentence, or whether or not it has been served. In most states, there's no way to lift these restrictions, unless the conviction is overturned on appeal. In some cases, even if it is, that fact still has to be disclosed to employers.

Does this strike anyone else as severe overkill? It's bad enough to ponder putting people in jail for lip-syncing their favorite tunes and posting it on YouTube, but it's indefensible to saddle them with a lifelong stigma that essentially bars them from any kind of reasonable employment and strips them of civil rights. Seriously, we need to stop this stupidity before it goes too far. Write your congressmen and senators, and tell them how dumb of an idea this really is.

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