Today, EFF joined a broad coalition of public interest and industry groups in sending a strong message to Congress regarding the highly controversial Inducing Infringement of Copyrights Act (S. 2560): Slow down.
The Induce Act proposes a dramatic change to current copyright law. For the first time in history, it would hold technology makers and service providers liable for copyright violations by end users even if they never knew, contemplated, or intended to facilitate user infringement. It would also undermine the 20-year-old Betamax doctrine, a safe harbor for tech companies that paved the way for one of the largest explosions of technological innovation in history.
Every other major change to copyright law in the past century has taken years to develop in order to consider the ramifications for all parties. Such deliberations have including reports, hearings, and other opportunites for the public's voice to be heard alongside those of industry. Even the process of passing the controversial Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998 took over three years to finally become law. Now, Senator Hatch and his colleagues want to pass Induce in the next two weeks.
The coalition opposing this rash move includes a broad range of companies and organizations, including Google, Yahoo!, Public Knowledge, Intel, IEEE-USA, Sun Microsystems, Consumer Electronics Association, Verizon, Radio Shack, Earthlink, the Association of American Universities, Texas Instruments, and the National Venture Capital Association, among others. With such a wide array of voices calling for more careful consideration, there should be no question that passing the bill at this early stage would be a huge mistake.
For more about the coalition letter, see the press release by Public Knowledge.