July 6, 2004 | By Donna Wentworth

Meet the Opposition

Four quick pointers on the Inducing Infringements of Copyright Act (a.k.a. Induce Act), which by extending copyright liability to those who "induce" infringement would give copyright holders an incredibly powerful tool to hamper the development of technologies like the iPod:

USA Today: "Internet search giants Google and Yahoo, chipmaker Intel, Internet service provider Verizon, auctioneer eBay, website operator Cnet Networks, and phone company MCI are among 42 companies and groups who signed a letter that will be delivered Tuesday to bill author Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, requesting hearings on the issue.

Two copyright bills were passed by a voice vote in late June without hearings, which is why the tech industry is concerned."

The letter itself (emphasis, mine): "By combining (1) a new and separate cause of action for "intentional inducement," (2) a lower civil, rather than higher criminal, standard of liability, and (3) a circumstantially "reasonable" test, [the Induce Act] would seem to ensure that massive and intrusive discovery proceedings, and a jury trial, would await any innovator or investor who introduces to the market a product that some copyright owner, someplace, believes will 'induce' infringement."

Ernest Miller "translating" statements by Senator Hatch's office on the possibility of holding hearings on the bill: "Hearin's? Hearin's? We don't need no stinkin' hearin's. And if we tells you the schedule, how we goin' to sneak the bill through?"

The EFF Action Center, where you can send a letter opposing the bill: "Right now, under the Supreme Court's ruling in Sony v. Universal (the Betamax VCR case), devices like the iPod and CD burners are 100% legal -- not because they aren't sometimes used for infringement, but because they also have legitimate uses. The Court in Sony called these 'substantial non-infringing uses.' This has been the rule in the technology sector for the last 20 years. Billions of dollars and thousands of jobs have depended on it. Industries have blossomed under it. But the Induce Act would end that era of innovation. Don't let this happen on your watch -- tell your Senators to fight the Induce Act!"

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