June 24, 2004 | By Fred von Lohmann

If Not Induce, then What?

While we at EFF have been critical of the overbreadth of the Induce Act, some have asked "what would you suggest that would target P2P while leaving things like the iPod intact?"

Answer: It's not a question of more laws, it's a question of new business models.

  • No amount of law (at least short of blowing up computers) is going to eliminate P2P file-sharing software. After all, legal victories against Napster, Scour, Aimster, and Audiogalaxy just spawned more, better, offshore alternatives. The Induce Act isn't going to scare P2P developers in the West Bank. It will be legitimate American innovators, like Apple, who pay the price for overbroad laws like the Induce Act.
  • History teaches that new business models work better than more laws when trying to reconcile copyright with new technologies. Compare the response to the VCR (let the free market find new business models) with the response to DAT recorders (pass a law that strangled the technology).
  • The music industry could, tomorrow, solve this problem by themselves, without more laws. As explained in our paper, A Better Way Forward, the music business could create one or more collecting societies and start giving blanket licenses to P2P users in exchange for low monthly payments, transforming a threat into an opportunity. Worked when ASCAP did it for broadcast radio.

So, if Congress wanted to do some good here, it should be considering ways to pave the path toward a collective licensing solution.

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