Thursday, June 17, 2004

Senator Orrin Hatch, praised in the final chapter of Larry Lessig's The Future of Ideas, is proposing the INDUCE Act, the latest in a long line of attempts at further draconian intellectual property legisation. I doubt Larry will be praising this initiative. I can't do better than Susan Crawford on this:

"The logic is that P2P applications inevitably lead to exploitation of children. With me so far? So the act is called the "Inducement Devolves into Unlawful Child Exploitation Act." I'm not even sure that's how "devolves" should be used. But the crimes here go far beyond the title.
The Act (to be proposed tomorrow by songwriter Sen. Hatch and others) amends the copyright law to say that anyone who "induces" copyright infringement is himself/itself an infringer.

"Induce" means intentionally aids, abets, counsels, or procures. So you can't even hire a lawyer if you're doing something risky.

This is amazing. Now we're waaaaaay beyond contributory and vicarious theories of liability, which are court-created and pretty darn broad on their own. See Napster 9th Circuit, Aimster 7th Circuit. It's not even clear what the limit to this is -- "aids" could mean that even something that would have been fair use under the Sony Betamax decision is now an illegal inducement.

And no one can talk to you if they think there's the slightest risk of copyright infringement liability.

We're back to the CBPTDA -- another hugely broad way of making sure that no unauthorized machines ever enter into our lives. If there was ever a moment to organize (see prior post) this might be it."

The CBDTPA was the now defunct proposal of then Sen Hollings in 2002, the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act wonderfully parodied by the EFF. Susan got the initials slightly out of synch but who can blame her. But the
"Inducement Devolves into Unlawful Child Exploitation Act", in the words of another well known American "You cannot be serious!"

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