New File Sharing Bill Proposed

Published: 2004-06-25
In an age when lawmakers should be more concerned with protecting its citizens from disasters like wars, terrorism, and a failing economy; some US Congressmen are turning their attention to the copyright laws and file sharing.

Suing people who knowingly infringe on copyright laws by sharing music over the internet doesn't seem to be enough. US Senator Orrin Hatch plans to introduce the "Induce Act" to the Senate. The law if passed, would not only outlaw file sharing networks like Kazaa, but would also outlaw any electronic device that has the potential to be used for infringement. Hatch - a devout Mormon - strongly opposes any form of pornography and is using the music sharing craze as an excuse to pass a law he views as "protecting little children from pornography".

If Hatch has his way and the Induce Act becomes law, any electronic device capable of recording - even the VCR - would be banned. The law is written so broadly that even the company who provides or sells software or devices could be held liable. Punishment for violating the Induce Act are fines and even lengthy prison terms. US jails are already overflowing and Hatch wants to throw more people in jail for taping their favourite television program while at work.

Recently the US Department of Justice issued another round of suits. Nearly 500 more people were sued for file sharing copyright infringement. The US was the first country to sue its citizens for copyright infringement due to sharing music over the internet. Since the first batch of suits were issued other countries have followed. If Senator Orrin Hatch has his way on the US by getting the Induce Act passed the same danger of other countries following the example could result. The Induce Act is so broad and far reaching that VCRs, tape recorders, CD burners, the internet itself, and computers could be included in the law and be banned.

Hatch's law would plunge the world into an economic disaster that it may never recover from.

Writer: Sherrill Fulghum



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Dear Senators Hatch and Leahy:

The Distributed Computing Industry Association is a non-profit trade organization established in July 2003 for the purpose of commercially developing peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing for legitimate purposes. We currently have eighteen (18) members and are actively expanding our balanced and solutions-focused membership.

We write concerning your introduction of the "INDUCE Act." Though positioned as a necessary step in combating a crime epidemic, this bill appears more to be an attempt, in the closing days of the 108th Congress, to grant the movie studios and record labels one of their most long-cherished goals: the evisceration of the Supreme Court's Betamax doctrine.

As such, and contrary to its claims, it represents an upheaval of well-settled law and a departure from current practice that would promulgate changes of such importance, with implications of such scope, that it should not be rushed through the legislative process without adequate consideration of the relevant views of affected parties.

In crafting yet another ground for a finding of infringement, separate from the requirements of Betamax, perhaps it can be argued that the bill does not disturb that doctrine. However, the Act's effect, and surely its intent, is to bypass that decision of the Supreme Court, and thus fatally undermine the benefits it has guaranteed to the public for a generation. Just as clearly, and just as unfortunately, it will distort the development of future technology in ways that can now be only dimly appreciated.

As you are aware, there is a significant body of opposition to this bill that remarkably has coalesced within a period of days. The speed and breadth of this opposition is a potent indication of the bill's controversial character.

Affected parties clearly differ on many of the claimed facts cited in the bill's introductory statement. Parties disagree on its rationale and on the creative legal analysis it puts forward. Parties differ on the need for a measure that would prove ultimately to be a futile attempt to rein in a practice—unauthorized file sharing—that recent research has shown to be of little if any damage to the entertainment industry. And parties disagree on the implications of these legislative changes with respect to current and future hardware and software that are of unquestioned public benefit.

It is this legitimate difference of viewpoint that public hearings are designed to air. For these reasons, we urge you to adopt a deliberate pace in considering this legislation. We urge you to hold a fair and balanced hearing, or hearings, to explore the full range of issues raised by this bill and by its introductory statement. We stand ready to assist you in this task.
Posted by: dcia on June 27, 2004
While I share the same concern in the freedom to share files and do what consenting adults have the right to do. I have two small children who have already been exposed to porn on the web by typing in search words like "toys" . There needs to be some sort of regulation. Molesters get by current laws and more children are victems becuase of the lack of laws needed to protect them. I feel my home is my home and no one has the right to infringe on my right to privacy. If it is illegal to come up to my kids on the street and expose their privates, why shouldn't it be that way in my house. Balance in the law is the key and it seems most posts here go to far one way or the other and both extremes are dangerous.
Posted by: Anonymous on December 10, 2004
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