June 24, 2004

IICA (née INDUCE) Act Coverage [8:06 am]

  • New York Times: Bill to Curb Online Piracy Is Challenged as Too Broad

    A copyright bill introduced in the Senate this week is facing criticism from groups including representatives of the telecommunications and electronics industries, who contend it could make computer companies, Internet providers and other technology businesses liable for online piracy.

    But supporters of the bill, including its bipartisan sponsors, say it would provide a powerful tool to curb illegal copying of music files and other media, and would protect children from the lure of a technology that is intended to help them break the law.

    [...] But Mitch Bainwol, chief executive of the Recording Industry Association of America, a recording industry lobbying group, said the legislation was meant to be narrowly tailored to address companies that build technology focused on illegal file sharing.

    He said he did not envision the legislation’s enabling lawsuits against “neutral” technologies, like computer makers.

    “This is not about going after the device makers,” Mr. Bainwol said, though he stopped short of guaranteeing that the recording industry would never use the measure to sue them.

  • Washington Post: Expanded Copyright Law Proposed

    But some legal experts argue that the bill is worded so broadly that it threatens numerous electronic devices and software products that enable copying of digital entertainment. And opponents worry that the bill is being hustled through the Senate without sufficient hearings and debate.

    [...] “I find it sort of scary,” said Jessica D. Litman, a law professor at Wayne State University. “It is worded so broadly that it . . . threatens to sweep within it all of the other activities, devices and technologies that have infringing as well as non-infringing uses.” These might include, for example, machines that “burn” compact discs or digital video discs (DVDs).

    [...] Susan P. Crawford, a professor of Internet law at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York, said that any lawyer advising makers of devices, software or even Internet service providers would be compelled to warn them that they could face secondary liability if they know their products might get used for illegal purposes.

    “The VCR would not be a legal product; TiVo would not be a legal product,” said Gary Shapiro, president of the Consumer Electronics Association. “I’m surprised the leadership would jump on this bill without hearing from the other side.”

  • The Boston Globe: US Senate bill targets Net media-swapping

    Movie and recording industry groups praised the bill, while a trade group representing several peer-to-peer networks said it would hurt innovation.

    Separately, one peer-to-peer executive said movie and music companies were pressuring other companies not to do business with them and asked the government to investigate.

    Under a recent US court ruling, peer-to-peer networks cannot be held liable if consumers use them to distribute copyrighted works. While that case is being appealed, the recording industry has sued 3,429 individual peer-to-peer users, many of them underage.

  • CNet News: Senate bill bans P2P networks

    An early version of the IICA seen by CNET News.com was called the Inducement Devolves into Unlawful Child Exploitation Act, or Induce Act. The final version appears to be identical.

    [...] Under existing law, companies are not liable for “vicarious copyright infringement” performed by their users, said Mike Godwin, a lawyer at the advocacy group Public Knowledge. That legal doctrine permits Sony to sell VCRs, TiVo to sell digital TV recorders and Apple Computer to sell iPods, even though some fraction of their customers use them for copyright infringement.

    If the IICA were to become law, “let’s say that you’re selling an MP3 player and it turns out that the MP3 player can be used to move copyrighted material around really easily,” Godwin said. “People start buying your MP3 player. Do you want a world where courts can say, ‘Hey buddy, you’re liable for copyright infringement?’”

  • Wired News: File-Trading Bill Stokes Fury

    Adam Eisgrau, executive director of P2P United, a group representing the file-trading industry, believes the Induce Act is an attempt by the recording industry to mute the unpleasant ramifications of a likely appeals court loss.

    “It’s a stealth maneuver intended to circumvent a line of cases emerging that peer-to-peer software is indeed legal to design, to make available and to use, on a case-by-case basis, depending on what you use it for,” Eisgrau said. He characterized the Induce Act as an example of “big entertainment pulling big strings.”

    [...] Another problem with the bill, said Will Rodger, director of public policy at the Computer and Communications Industry Association, which is pressing to block its passage, is that its authors do not provide a clear definition of what constitutes inducement.

    “As we read it, reporters who wrote about peer-to-peer file-trading networks could well be charged with inducing infringement,” he said. “Their definition of inducement seems to cover almost anything.”

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