The Internet has been abuzz with comments about Senator Orrin Hatch’s INDUCE Act, which would criminalize any activity that “induces” copyright infringement as if it were actually copyright infringement. I doubt I could say anything about it which has not been said elsewhere, but it’s a law that would eviscerate the 1984 Supreme Court decision in the Betamax case, which established the criteria that devices are legal if there is a substantial, non-infringing use for the technology in question. During this time, electronics manufacturers as well as movie and music producers have reaped the rich rewards of providing media to an entire new audience of listeners. While they may have squawked in the beginning, revenues from DVD sales exceed the money from box office receipts. Far from bankrupting media companies, this finding actually created an entire market with rich opportunities.
But if Hatch, Leahy, Frist, Daschle and the like have their way, that’s about to end. Do you enjoy your iPod? I rather like mine. I digitize my CDs, my own music, audio books, and even some boodler audio. I am loading it currently with lots of five dollar CD’s from the bargain rack (currently my favorite is naxos.com’s Best of Puccini). What can I say? I’m a cheapskate. As the EFF points out, the INDUCE act would enable copyright holders to bring lawsuits against electronics manufacturers like Apple. After all, my iPod can hold 10,000 songs, an amount which vastly exceeds the capacity needed by the average consumer. Clearly, since they’ve sold hundreds of thousands of these, they are trying to encourage people to illegally acquire music.
None of this is new, but I was reading the Yahoo! news story linked above, and extracted this gem:
Hatch urged supporters and opponents of the bill to help him develop a compromise that protects legitimate manufacturers while allowing copyright owners to protect their rights.
“If you help us, we just might get it right, but if you don’t we’re going to do it [anyway],” Hatch said.
Allow me to translate: “Bend over folks. We know this isn’t a good law, but it’s coming anyway. Our corporate masters think they need it, and we are just the slack jawed bunch of ignoramuses to give it to them.”