Justin Bieber is in jail! Selena Gomez can only see him for a half-hour at a time in visits even more supervised than their already paparazzi-addled lives! His despair’s even led him to emulate Gucci Mane‘s ice cream cone tattoo/not-OK display!
Calm yourself. None of this actually happened. It’s part of an elaborate promotional campaign/publicity stunt by the Photoshop crew behind Free Bieber, a project launched by free-speech and fair-use advocacy group Fight For the Future. By all indications (and by “indications,” we really mean things like “headlines” and “Google hits” and “social-media presences“), it’s a pretty effective campaign. But of course it is. Think: Justin Bieber in jail. Already, you’ve stoked the horror of tweens, teens and other Beliebers more than a thousand Halloweens ever could. Plus, these are funny pictures. There are more on the organization’s site.
If you go to the Free Bieber site, you’ll quickly realize what the pictures are for: a campaign opposing a recent Senate bill, S.978, which makes unauthorized streaming of copyrighted material (not just music) a felony with a possible 5-year prison sentence. The bill is supported by the RIAA, MPAA, Screen Actors Guild and other industry organizations, and opposed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and guys like these. The campaigns’ thrust: if this bill passed, Bieber would technically be in violation, having gotten his start with YouTube covers. A full discussion of the legal aspects of the bill is well beyond the scope of this post (even fair use in itself is wildly nebulous), so we’ll just stick to a few observations:
- Apparently there are no barbers in this jail, because Bieber’s had time to regrow his Nardwuar behind the Photoshopping?
- If you take nothing else from this campaign, take this quote: “Gomez herself faces jail time for singing Nicki Minaj’s “Super Bass” on Youtube. When asked if she regretted recording the video, Gomez responded ‘Oh f— no, I killed that s—.’”
Still need consoling? Bieber’s “Mistletoe” video is on his official YouTube and will not get you any felony charges from watching, assuming you just watch the thing and don’t pull any wacky/”creative” stunts to emulate it.