Today, the Copyright Office provided the Senate Judiciary Committee with recommended language meant to replace Senator Orrin Hatch's "Induce Act," S. 2560.
The proposed language targets companies who make "public dissemination" technologies, where those companies make money from, or attract users with, copyright infringement. The proposal is a break with the doctrine established by the Supreme Court in its famous "Betamax" ruling, which says that technology companies cannot be held liable for copyright infringement by their customers, so long as the technology in question is capable of substantial noninfringing uses. In its ruling in MGM v. Grokster, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reaffirmed that the Betamax doctrine applies to peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing software. EFF represents one of the prevailing defendants in that case.
"The Copyright Office proposal undermines the Betamax doctrine for a wide array of communications technologies, while doing nothing to slow P2P companies based offshore," said Fred von Lohmann, senior intellectual property attorney at EFF. "So American innovators pay the price, while P2P file-sharing continues unhindered."
The Copyright Office proposal came in response to a request from the Senate Judiciary committee. The committee has also received proposals from a variety of technology industry groups and is expected to continue deliberating in the weeks ahead.
Fred von Lohmann
Senior Intellectual Property Attorney
Electronic Frontier Foundation