Posted By Paul Kafasis on June 25th, 2004
The quick and easy link: Email/Fax your senators to oppose the INDUCE (now known as the Inducing Infringement of Copyright Act) Act.
The full story: Orrin Hatch has finally introduced his INDUCE Act (renamed the Inducing Infringement of Copyright Act, but I’m still calling it INDUCE for short), and it’s pretty awful. In a nutshell, the INDUCE act aims to stop copyright infringement (that’s fine), by going after (or allowing others to go after, with costly lawsuits) anyone who “intentionally aids, abets, induces or procures” copyright infringement. It’s like using a sledgehammer to open a walnut, and it means the good guys (like us) will be in trouble along with the bad guys.
We are not without an extreme interest in this. For a little background, the Sony v. Universal City Studios case from 1984 that you might see cited in reference to this is part of what allows us to make and sell Audio Hijack legally. That case essentially said that the VCRs which Sony was making, and Universal opposing, (because VCRs were going to kill the movie industry – really. Cut to 2003, when “home video sales now account for nearly 60 percent of Hollywood’s revenue”, and draw your own conclusions) were legal because they has “substantial non-infringing uses”. Essentially, if the main goal of a device is to allow for legal activities, then the device itself should be legal, even if it allows for illegal activites. So, while you can use Audio Hijack (or Audio Hijack Pro, or Nicecast) in ways which may be illegal and infringe on copyrights, it’s main uses are non-infringing, and thus Audio Hijack itself is legal.
However, INDUCE changes all that. Under INDUCE, anything that “aids, abets, induces, or procures” others into actions that constitute piracy would itself be culpable. Does the item in question have substantial non-infringing uses? It won’t matter under INDUCE, so say goodbye to your iPod, your CD burner, hell, even floppy disks. INDUCE is incredibly broad, absolutely ridiculous, and if we don’t do something, it will be the law.